One Half Likely To Pay For Transit With Smart Phone

| Filed under: Social Issues

Three quarters will use social media to complain about/praise transit agency

TORONTO July 7th, 2014 - In a random sampling of public opinion taken by the Forum Poll™ among 1006 residents of the GTHA (Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area) 18 years of age and older who take transit at least once a month or more, fully one half are likely to use their smart phone or other device to pay for transit if they could (50%), and as many as one third (32%) say they are "extremely/very likely" to do so. Likelihood is common to the youngest (<44 - 41% "extremely/very likely), males (37%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 41%), among those who work in York Region (42%) and those who use public transit more often than once a day (39%). Those who use smart touch technology already are more likely to pay by mobile phone (39%) as are, especially, those already using their phones to pay for items (62%).

Close to half now use smart touch technology

Close to one half of monthly or more frequent transit users in the GTHA already use smart touch technology such as "tap and go" or "touch and pay" (45%), and this behaviour is most common among the youngest (<35 - 55%), males (50%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 56%), in Peel (64%) and Halton (61%) Regions and among those who work in York (55%).

One quarter use Presto card to pay for transit

Just more than one quarter in total claim to use the Presto card to pay for transit (28%), and this is most common to the youngest (41%), in Peel (57%) and Halton (56%), those who work in Peel (46%) and, especially, among those using smart touch technology (52%).

One seventh use smart phones to pay

One seventh in our sample of transit users employ their smart phones to pay for items (14%), and this is especially characteristic of the youngest (21%), the wealthiest ($80K to $250K - 18%), in York (20%) and Durham (19%) Regions and among those who work in York (25%).

Three quarters will use non-traditional media to communicate with a transit agency

Fully three quarters of our sample are likely to use non-traditional media like email, Twitter and Facebook to communicate with their transit agency (72%), and as many as one half say they are "extremely/very likely" (48%). Being extremely or very likely to engage in this behaviour is common to younger riders (35 to 44 - 56%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 63%), in Peel (57%) and Halton (55%) Regions and among those who work in Peel (64%) and among those who use smart touch technology or the Presto card (59% each).

Twice as likely to communicate negative as positive transit experience

Twice as many users would be more likely to tweet or post a negative comment about transit service (40%) than a positive one (18%), while one quarter would do neither (25%) and about one tenth would do both (12%).

Two thirds have used non-traditional media to comment on service

Two thirds of GTHA transit users have commented to a company on products or services using e-mail, Twitter or Facebook (63%), and this is especially common to older users (55 to 64 - 67%), the wealthiest ($100K to $250K - 83%), in Halton Region (70%), among those who work in York or Durham (65% each), and among those who use smart touch technology (74%) or the Presto card (71%).

One half likely to respond to geo-targeted transit advertising

One half our sample of users are likely to buy goods or services promoted to them on transit, for businesses located on their routes (52%), and more than a quarter say they are "extremely/very likely" to do so (26%). This increases to twice this proportion among those who already shop or buy drinks and snacks while on their transit route (52%).

One quarter shop en route while using transit

Close to one quarter of riders say they shop or buy drinks or snacks on their transit routes (23%), and this is especially the case among the youngest (31%), mid income groups ($40K to $60K - 29%), and among those who work in York (30%) and Peel (33%) Regions.

Two thirds concerned about privacy of targeted advertising

Two thirds of GTHA transit users have concerns about privacy and individually targeted advertising (64%), and this level of concern appears to cut across almost all demographic groups.


There is strong potential for non-traditional forms of payment, communications and advertising on public transit, and this potential is highest among those in York, Peel and Halton who are already using smart touch technology, or the Presto card.

"Smart touch technology is growing more common all the time and it will not be long before people wonder why they can't "tap and go" on the bus, rather than why they can. And the idea of location-specific advertising is obvious - you fish where the fish are, and transit is where people gather to go places. We can see that one quarter will respond to geo-targeted transit advertising, but twice as many of those who are already shopping en route will do so as well," said Forum Research President, Dr. Lorne Bozinoff.

Lorne Bozinoff, Ph.D. is the president and founder of Forum Research. He can be reached at or at (416) 960-9603.