For Cubic Transportation Systems, the term "NextCity" describes a city in which consumers use a single account for transit and parking while making payments through a smart card or mobile app.
The San Diego, Calif.-based travel payment technology provider is bringing this vision to life in Canada through the Calgary Parking Authority's ParkPlus system. Cubic views the relationship with Calgary Parking as a first of its kind between the public and private sector in the parking industry.
"The ability to partner with a municipal agency to advance state-of-the-art transportation payments is a win/win scenario," said David deKozan, Cubic Transportation Systems' vice president of strategic initiatives. "A customer with real-world operational challenges is partnering [with Cubic] in solving problems and driving innovation."
Cubic has experience with stand-alone pay stations and entry-exit control systems for parking applications, and the CPA application adds license plate recognition for payment and parking enforcement, deKozan said.
ParkPlus allows drivers to link their license plates to a payment account as an alternative to paying at the meter. The system streamlines the payment process, while allowing enforcement officers to automatically detect violations by license plate.
"The two platforms, CPA and NextCity, can interact as discrete systems or as integral elements in a common system," deKozan said. Under the NextCity system, the consumer is able to "plan a journey, get real-time information, and make payments for various transportation services through a single account," he added.
NextCity is an ambitious strategy, but if Cubic can get all of the "moving parts" to communicate it would be in a position to sell the concept to many other cities, said payments industry analyst Scott Strumello of New York- and London-based Auriemma Consulting Group.
"In some cities, there are so many different entities operating the transit or parking systems, it would be a significant task to get all of those communicating together," Strumello said.
However, it has been shown that "there is value for mobile or contactless payments in the transit space," Strumello added. "People are already using Uber for taxi rides and other apps for transportation."
Cubic's concept of getting all of the transportation and parking options in a single account "fits nicely" in a mobile world, Strumello added.
Two months ago, Cubic revealed it was developing a video system as part of its NextCity strategy that would recognize the user's smartphone or smart card, thus eliminating card swipes or taps on bus and subway rides.
After some initial software problems in establishing the Ventra contactless card system for the Chicago Transit Authority, the agency approved the mobile Ventra app last month for contactless payments. Commuters in Chicago will be able to use the app in early 2016.
In addition to Chicago, Cubic supplies and, in some cases, operates the electronic payments and revenue management systems for transit operators in Sydney, Edmonton, London, New York and Los Angeles.