Lesson

Develop a detailed cardholder recruitment plan in the planning phase of the project, to provide guidance on processes to set pricing, and to ensure high user involvement and loyalty.

Orlando, Florida's experience with a Field Operational Test (FOT) on using a single smart card for transportation payments at facilities operated by multiple regional agencies.


8/1/2004
Orlando,Florida,United States


Background (Show)

Lesson Learned

The ORANGES experience showed that developing a recruitment plan in the project planning phase would help to better ensure that the smart cards are actively used. This experience also showed that recruitment plans should detail the processes for cardholder recruitment, screening, and training.

The ORANGES project experience provides the following guidance about cardholder recruitment, and the limited implementation plan.
  • Put extra effort in initial cardholder recruitment, screening and education. The limited number of cards being issued made it essential that cardholders be properly screened as part of the recruitment process. The usage patterns of potential recruits were screened by agency customer service representatives and via the project website, to attempt to recruit cardholders who used the actual routes and locations that would be equipped to accept the cards. Flyers were also handed out at the specific toll plaza and parking garages to be equipped. LYNX recruiting was completed on-board buses and at bus stops by a professional recruiting firm.

    Despite these efforts, some of the initially recruited cardholders only used their cards for a brief time, while others used them only sporadically. It is possible that some adjustments to the recruitment approach could have helped in identifying cardholders more likely to use the card. While it is difficult to speculate on specific adjustments to the approach that could have helped, insight into this issue could have been gained through follow-up interviews with cardholders.
    It also seems that agency efforts to recruit additional cardholders later in the trial were limited. Although a total of 2100 cards were available – and the number of cards in active use remained below 160 throughout the demonstration period – many of the available cards were never issued. The initial recruitment drive led to about 750 cards being issued by mid-September 2003. Recruitment efforts were renewed beginning in November 2003, subsequent to the number of active cards dropping below 100. This led to a gradual and steady issuance of additional cards over the remainder of the trial, culminating in an overall cumulative total of 1250 cards issued by late June 2004 (after which no further cards were issued because the FOT had an August 2004 scheduled completion date).
  • Implement the FOT test configuration on as wide a scale as possible to make the smart card as useful and attractive as possible to users. The limited scale of the FOT test configuration and limited staff training made the card less useful and attractive. The limited number of card acceptance locations (two transit routes, five lanes at one toll plaza and three parking garages) seems to have been a disincentive toward extensive and continuous use. Comments from the after discussion groups indicated that factors making card use less attractive included (1) the limited number of revaluing locations (ten); (2) the fact that the card could not be used on all bus routes and toll plazas; and (3) limited agency staff awareness/training about accepting the card.
    In particular, cardholders indicated that although they were users of the equipped routes and locations, they might have used the card more if a broader range of routes and locations had been equipped to accept the card. These cardholders also mentioned staff training issues (e.g., some LYNX bus operators were reportedly not familiar with the fact that the smart card was an accepted fare medium or how it was used with the validator). Comments from the planning and management after discussion group indicated that the agencies recognized that a more comprehensive scale for the FOT test configuration and more extensive training would likely have improved the results. Training plans should take into account the on-going need to train new staff due to personnel changes during the course of the FOT (e.g. bus operators assigned to a route may change after the periodic operator sign-up).
  • Try a range of different types of other incentive programs to encourage active membership. The cardholder incentives established by the agencies apparently influenced usage patterns during the demonstration. OOCEA (tolls) customers received a smart card with $5 preloaded, and were to receive a $20 check at the end of the 12-month trial if they remained an active user throughout the FOT period. However, this incentive was discontinued after issuance of the initial 300 cards by OOCEA, as it was determined that many customers discontinued use of the smart card once the initial $5 had been used. Transit and parking customers received a discount for each ORANGES transaction processed throughout the demonstration (15% for LYNX fares and 50% for parking fees). Parking was the most frequent type of ORANGES transaction, which raises the possibility that there might have been fewer ORANGES parking transactions if the incentive had not been as generous.
    Other types of incentives identified as being of interest (i.e., in the after cardholders discussion group) included: (1) incentives tied to higher revaluing amounts or card balances; (2) incentives tied to frequency of card use; (3) a loyalty program where points could accumulate for discounts with retailers or community activities; and (4) occasional random free payments when using the card.
The ORANGES experience also provides this additional guidance.
  • Provide discounts with card transactions to give customers an incentive to alter their habits and try using the card.
  • Avoid an "initial transactions free" type of incentives approach; at least on its own, since this strategy can lead to discontinued use after the free period has ended.
Developing a regional smart card payment system is related to the ITS Goal of improving customer satisfaction, through making payments for multimodal travel easier by establishing a regional payment method. Incentives schemes are popular with cardholders and can enhance customer satisfaction with the program, or at least entice additional customers to try the card and then experience its other benefits.

The participating cardholders generally expressed a positive opinion about the potential technology, with concerns focusing primarily on the limited scale of deployment. It is expected that the use of incentives did contribute to this result by increasing the willingness of cardholders to get into the habit of using the card despite any initial unfamiliarity with the technology.

The guidance that resulted from the ORANGES experience focused on providing strategies for effectively recruiting system users, making the smart card payment system as attractive and useful, and encouraging users to actively use the system. While this guidance was oriented towards a smart-card payment system, the learning from this experience could be applied to other ITS technologies and systems that require users' voluntary participation.


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Source

Orlando Regional Alliance for Next Generation Electronic Payment Systems (ORANGES) Evaluation Final Report: Electronic Payment Systems Field Operational Test

Author: Moniz, Leisa M. (Volpe) et al.

Published By: U.S. DOT Federal Transit Administration

Source Date: 8/1/2004

EDL Number: 14268

URL: http://ntl.bts.gov/lib//jpodocs/repts_te/14268.htm

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Lesson Contacts

Lesson Contact(s):

Leisa Moniz
U.S. DOT/RITA/John A. Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
(617) 494-3793
moniz@volpe.dot.gov


Agency Contact(s):

Doug Jamison
Central Florida Regional Transportation Authority
(407) 254-6071
djamison@golynx.com

Lesson Analyst:

Jane Lappin
Volpe National Transportation Systems Center
617-494-3692
jane.lappin@volpe.dot.gov


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Benefits From This Source

In Central Florida, focus group participants involved in a smart card study using a single card for multiple payment applications indicated that the card provided convenience and improved their transportation experience.

Lessons From This Source

Develop a detailed cardholder recruitment plan in the planning phase of the project, to provide guidance on processes to set pricing, and to ensure high user involvement and loyalty.

Establish a clear understanding among all partners on the level of technical support to be provided by suppliers and integrators, as equipment provided in-kind or at a reduced cost is often provided with minimal technical support.

Establish a forum for decision-makers and project managers to come together to receive project updates, work through critical project issues, make decisions, and support successful institutional collaboration in a project involving multiple agencies.

Include significant planning and development time in the overall project schedule to accommodate identifying and addressing the various compatibility issues, to integrate existing legacy system equipment across multiple agencies.

Provide for large sample sizes when conducting before/after data collection efforts, to avoid impacting the ability to reveal statistically significant differences during the evaluation's statistical analysis.

Seek assurances from your suppliers and sub-contractors, that their production and manufacturing schedules will meet your project schedule and inventory requirements throughout the lifecycle of the project.

Lesson ID: 2006-00189