Introduction of Metrocard has started last November and keeps all its promises: in about 8 months, usage has already reached 80%. This is beyond the 75% target that was expected to occur after a year. Eight passengers out of ten are now riding with metrocard and it seems that the final level has yet to be reached.
This popularity is remarkable in many aspects. First AdelaideMetro did not undertake any expansive publicity campaign through papers, radio and television channels, and information was made available using uTube videos explaining various Metrocard facets. A few vehicles (trams and buses) were dressed Metrocard to tell users that it was now available and that they were now welcome using it. Remarkable point, nobody was forced to using Metrocard, legacy Multitrip tickets were still available to users a month ago. Minister of transport Chloé FOX informing general public about project status did the rare appearances of Metrocard on radio and television. Noticeable fact, the Minister never needed to come back on her announces: everything always went according to schedule!
Multitrip sales have just been officially phased out last month and passengers stocks will now gradually diminish. They are still representing about 4% of validations and one can rightly imagine that Metrocard will soon reach 85% of validations. When this happens, we will be able to talk about outright success knowing than a number public transport networks using various forms of contactless cards struggle to break the 80% mark. It is also good to remember that casual users were accounting for 26% of validations before introduction of Metrocard. Even more, if I recall well, the lowest level recorded of casual users in the past 25 years was 23%.
Why such enthusiasm?
I have not been doing any sort of detailed study about it and so I will refrain from any sort of conclusion. However, I believe that the following facts might have played a significant role reaching this level of popularity.
- Metrocard answers users demand allowing to access best fare from $5.00 recharge while it was necessary to spend over $30.00 (regular) to reach the same discount,
- Introduction of metrocard has not caused any suffering to passengers, we have achieved a true seamless operation, and this contributes building confidence,
- All media reports have been positive: no information to seed doubts into users minds,
- The pilot group (10000 users) has allowed the authority to verify and fine tune before general release. I would like to underline that pilot users were asked to fill in a questionnaire and that 80% did with additional comments most of time: success was already in the air!
- Users did not have to make any effort adapting to new equipment. The first phase of system introduction was to replace old equipment by new equipment and continue using the same tickets until the introduction of metrocard. The new equipment was showing a target for Metrocard and this might have been a teaser.
- The reliability of the whole system is outstanding: this helps building a growing level of confidence
- The authority has built a very good team spirit between customer services and technicians. This provides means to give users very good and accurate explanations to passengers experiencing difficulties using their metrocard,
- The system is very flexible and allows the authority to make fare structure changes. Allowing to better answer public demand is a key to keeping users and convincing others to use public transport.