Getting around a global city like London, New York, or Shanghai has become vastly more complicated in recent years. In addition to public transport options like buses and metro systems, travelers can now choose from a myriad of taxi apps, bike hire schemes, and new “micromobility” options like electric scooters.
Transport app Citymapper wants to simplify the process of navigating all of this with a contactless payment card that runs on a weekly subscription: the Citymapper Pass. The card is only available in London right now with an initial rollout limited to a few thousand subscribers, but Citymapper says it’s part of a long-term goal to simplify city transit.
“Right now, we see a real proliferation of all these private transport players and all these different modes, and more complexity. We want to see if we can abstract it away, and say to the user: we will take care of the hassle for you.” Citymapper CEO and founder Azmat Yusuf told Wired UK.
Citymapper isn’t a big name in the US, but it’s popular across major cities in Europe, giving users an easy way to navigate public transport. It’s also been an innovator, experimenting in London with hybrid transport options like custom bus routes and shared taxis, while building out its own custom software called Simcity, which it uses to model traffic flows.
The Citymapper Pass fits right in with these experiments, but it’s notable that none of the company’s new offerings have ever really taken off. Its custom bus routes were shut down, and its shared taxis have yet to launch outside of London. With that in mind, the Citymapper Pass will have to prove itself before it can live up to Yusuf’s claim to turn public transport into a “utility.”
The pass will be available via two subscriptions options, with prices subject to future tweaking. For £30 a week, subscribers will get unlimited trips on London’s tube and buses in zones one and two, and for £40, they’ll get the same plus unlimited rides on Transport for London’s bike hire scheme and two journeys from Citymapper’s taxi-sharing service Ride.
As Wired UK notes, this works out to be cheaper than TfL’s weekly prices, and Citymapper isn’t locking anyone into a subscription, either. Customers can cancel any time they like. They’ll be issued a bright green contactless card that works with Apple Pay or Google Pay and an app will track their usage as well as offer reward points in the future.
Such a system works in London because of the proliferation of contactless payment terminals, letting anyone tap in and out of public transport. Citymapper says that as this becomes more common across Europe, a Citymapper Pass could eventually work in different countries.
“The vision of this for the long term is if you’re subscribing to this, it works for you everywhere — you could go to any city and we’ll have you covered,” Yusuf told Wired UK. The Citymapper Pass will be available sometime in March or April this year.