The C40-MasterCard partnership: A greener future is only a train ride away


Your daily commute is about to get a whole lot greener and not in the way you might expect. Ryan Hewlett explores how contactless technology can save you time, reduce traffic congestion and help your city invest in renewable energy. 

Last month at the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, eighty-one cities announced an ambitious partnership with MasterCard to reduce emissions – not through hydrogen fuel cells or solar powered hot air balloons but by the way you pay for your journey.

At its heart, the partnership will see the C40 climate leadership group, a global network of 81 cities, convert their mass transit systems to cashless payments.

The system is already up and running in London where you can now use a mobile phone or contactless card to pay for a trip on the Tube.

MasterCard estimates that 15 per cent of the face value of a ticket for the average journey on public transit is spent on payment alone. By switching the ticketing infrastructure to contactless payments cities cannot only speed up service but save money too. With the money saved, cities can invest in renewable energy or reducing traffic congestion.

Hany Fam, president of MasterCard Enterprise Partnerships, said:

“This new initiative is a great example of how public-private-partnerships can make significant improvements to transport systems in cities around the world, from higher productivity, development of new technologies and better air quality and associated health benefits.”

With more than half the world’s population now living in cities, urban transportation is one of the key contributors to CO2 emissions globally. Cities are undeniably one of the key players in the global warming arena, being the leading source of greenhouse gases, of population settlements and of energy consumption, grouping three highly interconnected driving factors of global warming.

What this means is that buying a pass for public transportation with your phone or contactless card will not just save you time and your city money but it will also help tackle climate change. Over the long term, people choosing to take the train or bus rather than drive can have a big impact.

Mark Watts, executive director of C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, says:

“With transportation currently accounting for over a quarter of final energy use, and with C40 cities currently emitting over 300 million tons of CO2 per year from transport alone, decisive action must be taken quickly. We firmly expect our work with MasterCard through the new Mobility Management network to play an important role.”

When mass transit systems go mobile and digital, other benefits become possible, including what MasterCard calls “active demand management” – spreading out commuters more evenly through the day and reducing the number of commuters at peak travel times. C40 chairman and Rio de Janeiro mayor Eduardo Paes, said:

“The Paris COP21 ushers in a new approach to global action on climate change in which cities and non-state actors have a major role to play. The C40-MasterCard partnership provides a compelling example of the innovative and collaborative work that cities and businesses are doing to help China, the U.S. and other nations reach – and exceed – aggressive GHG targets.

 “Transport is crucial for cities to get right, as we have seen in Rio where we are delivering a massive expansion of public transport. C40’s partnership with MasterCard to launch a new network on ‘Mobility Management’ will help cities like Rio scale up their efforts.”