Imagine if you could use one simple swipe pass to pay for everything. No, I’m not talking about a credit card. Think of it more like a bus pass. Now integrate this pass into a whole infrastructure of travel. Behold Hong Kong’s octopus card! In Hong Kong, 90% of all traveling is done by mass transit: 7 million daily riders have access to an “octopus card,” used by 95% of Hong Kong’s population (16-65), which is accepted as currency not only for the various forms of mass transit but also at parking meters, convenience stores, and fast-food restaurants. Hong Kong is widely regarded as having the best blueprint of a successful mass transit system. Could this spread elsewhere?

For such a system to be integrated in other places, such as the U.S., extra security measures would need to be put in place, but a system where people could get from Point A to Point B simply by swiping a card and entering a 4/5-digit number would be incredibly efficient. Consider the fact that Hong Kong is able to move 90% of its travel community using only mass transit. Moscow moves 8.8 million on its subways alone. Tokyo moves 7.4 million. Paris moves 6 million. Now, consider that the U.S.’s ENTIRE mass transit system usage in large cities amounts to only about 13.5 million passengers a day. Do you see what I’m getting at here? Proper construction and integration of a similar mass transit system like Hong Kong’s in some of the world’s foremost global business hubs (Los Angeles, Chicago, Mumbai, Dubai, Singapore, Beijing, São Paulo) could not only provide jobs as well as foster eco-friendly changes, but could greatly increase the ease and efficiency at which business is conducted around the globe. In fact, some of these places have already started, such as Mumbai, Dubai, and Singapore.

Consider many of the difficulties that encumber international businesspeople: unfamiliarity with the transportation system, cultural issues, and language issues are just a few (visit our online course module on culture for advice on cultural dealings with respect to global business). A globalized system of mass transit would not remove these difficulties, but could certainly make them more manageable for the global businessman. If the mass transit format in Chicago was similar to that in Dubai, it would make for a much more productive trip. In a world fraught with economic uncertainty, rising populations and environmental concerns, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to explore something that could temper all three of them?

Read more from Environmental Graffiti about the 5 Best Mass Transit Systems in the World!

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