Dubai Metro
A general view of a Dubai Metro train. 39% survey respondents said capped fares would encourage them to take public transit more often than a non-fare capped system. Image Credit: WAM

Dubai: A large majority of UAE’s commuters expect contactless payments to be available on public transit, according to Visa’s Future of Urban Mobility Survey.

The report found that 75 per cent of those surveyed strongly expect contactless payment options to be available on public transit, which is among the highest rates when compared with other markets.

“In cities across the globe, people are venturing out again after a more than two-year hiatus,” said Saeeda Jaffar, Senior Vice President, and Group Country Manager for the GCC, Visa.

“Public transit has always been a vital part of how people get to work or school, run errands, and travel to leisure activities. Now the pandemic has pushed many riders to challenge the status quo when it comes to how they pay their fares,” said Jaffar.

Shifting preferences

About 50 per cent of respondents in the Gulf country said they are most likely to pay their transit fare through contactless payments. More than a third of public transit riders in UAE cited contactless payments as the top feature that would entice them to use public transit.

Respondents in the UAE said the top benefits of contactless payments were time saved due to faster transactions (45 per cent), convenience (40 per cent), less worry over carrying enough cash (37 per cent), and reduced contact with surfaces and other people (34 per cent).

Among employed riders in UAE, around a third of them said they take public transit at least three times a week, and 38 per cent ride five times a week or more. Additionally, 54 per cent of those surveyed in UAE plan to use transit more often over the next 12 months.

“Contactless payments can solve many of the problems facing public transit today by making paying for transit easier, faster, and simpler. By creating such a frictionless transit experience, operators increase customer satisfaction, encourage existing users to ride more often, and entice new people to use the system,” said Jaffar.


Payment options such as fare-capping represent an important opportunity for transit operators to serve as many riders as possible, said Visa.

Fare-capping limits how much a rider pays for their total rides in a day, week, or month, eliminating the need to tie up funds on a monthly pass or transit-dedicated card.

Among survey respondents in UAE, 39 per cent said that capped fares would encourage them to take public transit more often than a non-fare capped system. About 38 per cent of riders ranked faster journey times as a top motivator that would encourage them to use transit more often.

“Fare capping can help speed up the boarding process by alleviating confusion over how to pay for newer riders,” said the report.

The survey also showed how public transit is an economic lifeline for millions of people around the world. In UAE, about 31 per cent of respondents said public transit is their primary form of transportation. More than half the people in UAE travel using public transit.