Mastercard Smart Cities Survey reveals majority of commuters could be incentivized to modify travel

SYDNEY, 3 April 2017 – Incentives such as flexible work arrangements and reward points to exchange at restaurants or cultural events as well as lower off-peak fares across the whole network could help ease the burden on congested transit networks in Australian cities, according to new research conducted by Mastercard in Australia.

The latest Mastercard Smart Cities Survey reveals that when it comes to the use of public transport at peak times, 74 percent of commuters would consider an offer or an incentive to avoid travelling during this time. Among existing peak time users of public transport, half (55 percent) would consider travelling off-peak if rewarded with points and relevant merchant offers.

The research, which surveyed over 1,000 people across the nation on their transport usage, found the most common reason for using public transport is not to travel to work, but to get to the city centre (54 percent). 50 percent of respondents said they use public transport to avoid parking, 33 percent use public transport to avoid traffic and 32 percent to get to leisure activities/meet friends.

Doug Howe, Vice President of Travel and Transit Development, Mastercard, said, “There’s an increasing pattern of migration to city centres around the world, and Australian cities are certainly not exempt as our lifestyles and the types of work we engage in evolve. As urban areas begin to swell, leveraging technology to plan and build smarter cities will ultimately improve quality of life.”

The United Nations anticipates almost 70 percent of the World’s population will live in cities by 2050, putting pressure on cities to meet the rising demand for housing, water, transport, education and other services.

Mastercard is combining data-driven insights with innovative technology to make cities more inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

“Combining commerce insights with transit insights helps planners and developers better understand the purpose of travel, and the relationship between how people travel, buy, and consume services. In turn, this can guide investment decisions that help shape demand for services that will benefit both cities and citizens,” said Howe.

When asked what customers consider before choosing their mode of transport, the purpose of travel rated the most highly with 45 percent, after other time related considerations such as travel time. Cost of alternative modes of transport was a consideration for only 30 percent of customers.

“Transport and congestion are just one pain point, but with the data accessible in the digital age, including payment data, there is an opportunity for private and public sectors to collaborate to prepare for future growth. Together we can create cities that are more efficient, welcoming and sustainable, which will better enable citizens to live inclusive, rewarding lives,” he said.

Transport efficiencies are not just related to networks; changes to the way Australians pay to use roads and public transport are creating more seamless user experiences.

According to the research, of the 90 percent of Australians that drive a car at least weekly, more than half (51 percent) have an e-toll pass in their car (66 percent in NSW/ACT, 53 percent in Vic/Tas, 68 percent in QLD; SA and WA do not have e-tolls) creating easier pass through to reduce congestion around toll points.

For public transport users, the preferred method of payment is currently the public transit card (71 percent). However, 74 percent said they would use their debit or credit card to make a contactless payment, if it meant they were guaranteed the best fare.

Using a contactless debit or credit card to Pay As You Go (PAYG) for Transport services avoids the need for consumers to queue. This has proven to be very popular in cities like London with around 40 percent of customers choosing to use a contactless debit or credit card, as they are guaranteed the best fare.

Given the choice between using a mobile phone pay-as-you-go app or a public transit card, 37 percent of respondents said they would prefer the mobile phone app. Western Australians are particularly keen to embrace digital payments with transport, where over half (52 percent) have indicated mobile app would be their preferred payment method.

Using your mobile phone to pay for public transport is already starting to increase with approximately 8 percent of contactless payments at Transport for London (TfL) now being made on a mobile or other device. Since December 2015, more than 25 million journeys have been made using mobile devices within the TfL network and the number continues to grow by around 10,000 extra devices per week.

“We’re already seeing ways technology can change a city for the better. And as populations shift we need to continue to look to technology as a means to a better quality of life, better jobs, better services, smarter cities. Cities mix ideas and people in a unique way and are powerful platforms for innovation and economic vitality – they are central to reviving and sustaining global growth, hence the need to get urbanisation right,” Howe said.

Detailed findings:

  • 45% of Australians say that public transport is very accessible and a further 35% say that it is reasonably accessible in peak hours
  • 74% of Australians would use contactless payments when using public transport if guaranteed the best fare
    • 79% Millennials, 65% Baby Boomers
    • 82% in WA
  • 56% of public transport users travel during peak times
    • 67% Millennials
    • 60% males
    • 93% work commuters
    • 45% in WA
  • 65% are comfortable for organisations to use anonymous data to enable cities to become more efficient and sustainable
    • 70% Millennials, 62% Generation X, 63% Baby Boomers
  • 68% of respondents list avoiding parking as the main benefit of public transport


This study was conducted online during December 2016 using a sample of 1,000 Australians aged between 18-64 years old across Australia. Age, gender and area quotas were applied to the sample.

About Mastercard

Mastercard (NYSE: MA),, is a technology company in the global payments industry.  We operate the world’s fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories.  Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.  Follow us on Twitter @MastercardAU, join the discussion on the Beyond the Transaction Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

Media Contact

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