Tickets please

Tickets please

The 2014 Transport Ticketing Conference and awards highlighted some of the most innovative developments in ticketing systems from around the world. FOCUS takes a closer look at the mobile phone ticketing system that’s caught the eye of some international bus operators, and is taking the transport world by storm.

Europe’s largest gathering of transport operators and authorities took place earlier this year, at the sixth Transport Ticketing Conference in London. More than 700 people, from 48 countries around the world, were in attendance to take a look at what the future holds for ticketing.

One point that was made clear at the start of the event, during a panel debate about where the future of transport ticketing (smart card, mobile or bank card ticketing) will take the industry, was that there will be no single technology to rule them all.

The panel of speakers agreed that, ultimately, a hybrid model for ticketing will prevail, which suits the needs and preferences of passengers. The model adopted is also dependant on the country and the number of operators.

Ticketing systems around the world have undergone a great deal of change. The most exciting innovation in the industry is the mobile ticketing system, which allows passengers to make fare payments with their smartphones.

The implementation of this technology was acknowledged at the conference during the MasterCard Transport Ticketing Awards Ceremony. Telekom Slovenije was the winner of the most successful ticketing program award. Its Urbana mobile ticketing solution facilitates direct fare payment via mobile phones.

According to Telekom Slovenije, it requires no app and is available to all passengers, whether they have an Urbana stored-value card or not. The Urbana system is used on public transport services in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia.

“The Urbana smartphone application offers all the features of the Urbana City Card in the city transport service: contactless service payment, free-of-charge unlimited bus changes within 90 minutes and multiple person payment,” says Telekom Slovenije.

Telekom Slovenije is not the only company at the forefront of mobile phone ticketing and payment solutions. Masabi, based in the United Kingdom, is the leading developer of mobile ticketing technology for the transport sector and believes there are many benefits of using mobile ticketing.

Increased customer satisfaction is an obvious advantage. According to Masabi, customers love mobile ticketing and the benefits it brings; they like the fact that they no longer have to wait in queues and that they can buy their tickets in under a minute; anytime, anywhere.

“Allowing customers to self-serve tickets moves sales from the ticket office, on-board or at vending machines. It massively reduces the cost of sales and expands sales capacity,” explains Masabi.

Masabi has developed a range of mobile tickets to suit the infrastructure requirements of operators. According to the company, its barcode mTickets can be delivered to customers’ phones as secure 2D barcodes. This allows passengers to scan their ticket and have it validated quickly and securely, either with low-cost smartphone hardware (perfect for handheld or bus) or scanners fitted to existing infrastructure such as fareboxes or gates.

“The passengers simply show their phone’s screen to the scanner, which validates the ticket in less than a quarter of a second (faster than most smartcards) allowing them to continue their journey with the minimum interruption.”

The company also has secure readable mTickets. These are available in a human readable format, delivered in conjunction with a barcode. They are designed to look and function like a normal paper ticket. In this format, staff can check an mTicket on a customer’s phone without scanning equipment.

“The passengers ‘activate’ their mTicket before they travel, which marks it as being used. After being activated, the mTickets pulse with animated colour signatures that change over time to prevent fraud. Inspectors can verify the colours using a reference application on their own handset.”

The company also intends to make mTickets in the Near Fields Communication format (NFC) available when phones with secure contactless technology become widespread in the market. Masabi says NFC is perfect for agencies that have made an investment in contactless infrastructure with existing contactless readers on station gates. For those with an existing smartcard system, the mobile can become a new sales channel moving smartcard top-ups away from vending machines and into customers’ hands.

Although South Africa may not yet be implementing this technology, we are still making strides when it comes to ticketing. The City of Cape Town’s transport authority, Transport for Cape Town (TCT), won the best bank-card ticketing scheme award for the MyCiTi myconnect card.

According to the City, the myconnect card beat two other top contenders in the contactless card payment systems category: BKM and Konya Municipality in Turkey, and Vix Technology’s partnership with the Utah Transport Authority.

“The award is testimony to the fact that TCT is touching the lives of commuters in a positive way, and is a step in the right direction,” says the City’s Mayoral Committee Member: Transport for Cape Town, Councillor Brett Herron.

“It will, ultimately, allow us to realise our goal of one card and one fare system. Our key to an integrated public transport system is an integrated ticket card, where commuters can use one simple means of payment on all modes of transport for seamless travel,” he adds.

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