16 Feb 2021

The future of Moscow's ticketing system

Transport Ticketing
The future of Moscow's ticketing system

The future of Moscow's ticketing system

The Moscow Department of Transport announced the launch of a virtual “Troika” card and the face payment system roll-out by the end of 2021. The Troika-based ticketing system keeps expanding in other regions. Why did Moscow start the modernization of its ticketing system and what could others learn from its experience? Find out as we review the history of Moscow's ticketing system.

10 years of development

For a long time, the ticketing system of Moscow lagged behind in development in relation to other large metropolitans of the world. In 1997, a unified transport card for contactless payment, Octopus, was launched in Hong Kong, and in Moscow, in the same 1997, automated fare collection systems were just being introduced. It was obvious that the old ticketing system does not meet modern requirements for reliability, security, and does not allow it to unify tariffs, make public transportation more comfortable - in parallel there were several separate systems (metro, private transport operators, suburban committing trains). This encouraged the specialists of the Moscow transport complex to think about the qualitative modernization of the system.   

The modern "ticket" was meant to unite the entire public transport system of the city, to enable support of several transport operators and work in the regions. It was necessary to take into account the best international experience and introduce the latest technological innovations. As a result, the “Troika” card appeared in 2013 which could be used on any public transport mode. According to Maksim Liksutov, Deputy Mayor of Moscow for Transport, the next stage of the city's ticketing system development program should be completed in 2021. 

For passengers and the city

Ticketing solutions are one of the main tools for the development of transport infrastructure in any city. A universal means of payment for travel and an easy-to-understand unified tariff menu helps passengers save time on the road and makes travel more comfortable.

One of the performance criteria of the ticketing system is the speed of payment at the turnstiles. The raw estimation of the average speed of opening the turnstile after swiping a card on transport infrastructure is around 0.4-0.5 seconds. In terms of this indicator, Moscow Metro occupies a leading position: the turnstile opens in 0.3 seconds, and according to the assurances of the Department of Transport, with the introduction of new technologies it will be possible to reduce the time to 0.2 seconds. At the end of last year, Maksim Liksutov announced that by the end of 2021, the FacePay system would be deployed in the metro to pay for travel by face. The introduction of this technology will further simplify and speed up the ticketing system. Moscow Metro will become the world's first transport operator to deploy a face-to-face payment system across the entire infrastructure. Until now, the technology is tested in some areas - lines, stations or bus stops, for example, in Dubai, and in some cities in China.   

According to Mark Einstein, chief analyst for telecommunications and digital services at ITR Corporation, the introduction of FacePay technology should become one of the most significant events in the transport industry and, in addition, will increase the level of comfort and safety of passengers. “This should be the first full-scale experience of introducing a biometric system in transport. The introduction of FacePay technology will qualitatively increase the level of comfort for passengers: they will be able to pass through the turnstile without stopping and pay for travel using the face recognition system. Thanks to contactless payment technology, Moscow Metro also improves infrastructure security, which is especially important in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic”, - Einstein said.

The ticket system of Moscow is getting smarter – using it, passenger can choose the optimal fare, even when planning difficult routes: Bus-Metro-Surface rail transport. The system will calculate the cheapest tariff including free interchanges. Meanwhile, Moscow continues to develop the concept of mobility as a service (MaaS), and the authorities promise that soon the smart ticketing system will be able to calculate the optimal fare for any payment method and for any number of trips, taking into account not only single trips, but also, for example, monthly subscriptions.   

When introducing a unified fare payment system, it is very important not to deprive passengers of their choice. Moscow's transport system allows the use of a record number of payment systems: local bank cards “MIR”, international Visa and Mastercard, all smartphone payment systems, even such as Huawei Pay, MIR Pay, AliPay, China UnionPay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, Apple Pay. Therefore, passengers themselves can choose the most convenient payment method. For various reasons - technological and policy issues - the range of available payment methods in other cities is much narrower. 

One of the main trends in recent years is the development of mobile services and the transition of services to online. Today, a travel card can be topped up online. For Android phones with an NFC module (more than 50% of passengers with such phones among Moscow public transport users), the option to remotely top up the card balance is available - this can be done in the application by simply placing the card on the back of the phone. For Apple devices, this is not yet possible - the NFC protocol is closed by the developers and only works for Apple applications (Wallet) - the Department of Transport says that this issue will be resolved in the near future.      

Starting this year, users of public transport in Moscow will also have access to the virtual “Troika” card. This service is already being tested for Android. The new technology will make it possible to to travel without carrying a physical card with you. It is also one of the main recent technological trends. In addition to the convenience to users, queues at the ticket office have been reduced by 40-70%; virtualization of the ticket system has other advantages. According to the Department of Transport, the number of paper tickets issued has reduced by six times since 2010, which has already saved the budget 2.5 billion Rubles. In addition, the damage to the environment has been reduced, as previously up to 2,000 trees had to be used annually to issue paper tickets. Over time, the virtual “Troika” will also reduce the amount of plastic used, because a physical card will not be needed.

Travel cards are becoming the key to an entire ecosystem that includes more than just transport services. Thus, Moscow has a loyalty program "Gorod*" (* - City). “Troika” card users can accumulate tokens and pay with them not only for travel, but also for city ​​services - more than 1 million users already use it, and bonus tokens are accepted at more than 6 thousand retail outlets. According to the Department of Transport, since the launch of the program, users have been awarded bonuses worth more than 380 million rubles.     

Without a card and outside Moscow

Since the end of 2019, Moscow's ticket system based on the “Troika” card has begun to expand. Other regions have also decided to integrate this system. More than 180 thousand trips have already been made with the “Troika” card outside Moscow - in Tula and the Moscow region. At the moment, more than 25 regions have declared their desire to implement the Moscow system. The benefits for the regions are obvious - for example, in Tula, in two months the number of transactions have increased by 15%, while the tariffs have not changed (they are fixed by the region) - it became more convenient for passengers to use buses, there is no need to pay for the trip in cash, and the driver does not need to be distracted by issuing a ticket and change. It is very important that the regional authorities received a convenient tool for analyzing the route network and quick reactions to improve the services provided to passengers.                   

The creation of universal transport cards on a national scale is also a global trend. Ideally, in the near future, people will be able to travel around the country using a single means of payment.

In addition to geographical expansion, it is planned that the “Troika” card will receive a technological expansion and can be used on any digital device. According to Maksim Liksutov, users of public transport in Moscow will soon no longer have to carry a card with them. In addition to the fact that the card will become virtual, after some time any device with an RFID chip, for example, a work pass, will be able to become a “Troika”.

It is important to note that Moscow has its own technological developments. Globally the ticketing system is implemented through large international vendors: Cubic Transportation, Conduent, Scheidt & Bachmann, Vix Technology. Moscow actively uses international experience and implements projects with foreign partners, but it also has its own developments. That's why “Troika” developers have an ambitious plan to go beyond the borders of Russia, and someday becoming a provider of ticket solutions abroad.


If you want to hear more about Moscow Metro’s Troika card deployment, you can watch the following sessions on demand on the TT Digital Platform: 

The future of Moscow’s ticketing system - Hear Yulia Temnikova, Deputy CEO on Client Services and Passenger work share details of Moscow's ticketing system 

Panel discussion: The Rise of Contactless Payments in Public Transport - Roman Latypov, First Deputy CEO on Strategic Development and Client Work at Moscow Metro joins a panel of experts to discuss the benefits of contactless ticketing. 

Watch these session on-demand on the TT Digital platform. Log in here

Read more articles

700+ attendees  |  400+ transport operators & authorities  |  50 speakers

The world's largest digital event for the smart ticketing & mobility community 

Learn More