Over the past few decades, we have witnessed transit technology evolve drastically, making significant changes to the way passengers use public transport. An example of this would be automation in fare collection and mobile ticketing, as well as new ways of payment such as electronic payments, real-time information, and access to information in general that was not possible with older technologies.
Transit agencies face major challenges as there has been an increased demand for new and improved systems that allow riders to not only get to their destinations quicker but also implement newer, smarter technology to fulfill their daily commuting requirements. The evolution of smartphones and other smart devices has played a crucial role in how people approach their daily routines. The speed to which people have become accustomed when searching the web or ordering a ride applies to the way they use public transport as well. Every person with access to a smartphone can now implement this interactive technology to their advantage when planning day-to-day activities which include their commute.
This is where mobile ticketing really shines by changing the way in which people move through various transit networks. It’s already gained a lot of recognition and its benefits are clearly evident through the rising global adoption we see with each passing year. One of the best ways to improve the transit infrastructure of any city is to implement mobile ticketing. Let’s take a closer look at what Mobile ticketing is and what are some of its benefits for the transportation sector.
What is Mobile ticketing?
Mobile ticketing is essentially a process that allows customers to order, pay for, obtain, and validate a ticket using only their smartphone. The use of a digital mobile ticket in public transportation has multiple benefits that provide a smart and environmentally-friendly solution to old ticketing systems. To put it simply, it is a free fare media, meaning that riders only need their mobile phones and an app as a valid travel document when using public transport.
Since most people use public transport daily, mobile ticketing along with an integrated transportation system should be a priority for every city aiming to improve both its transit network infrastructure as well as the quality of life of its citizens.
The implementation of a ticketing system like this has given access to a method of integrating different transit mediums (buses, trains, trams, paratransit), offering more capacity, and better revenue, as well as enhanced personalized journeys for customers, and effective, convenient ways to simplify the transit ridership experience.
It’s not just about cutting time on traveling or saving money but also improving every aspect of a passenger’s journey. It’s a great tool that is transforming the urban mobility scene due to its ease of use and amazing functionality and many useful features which appeal to both passengers and transit agencies. Since almost every person carries some kind of smart device or a mobile phone with them daily, it is almost effortless to switch to mobile ticketing instead of using paper tickets.
Not only does it enhance the ridership experience but it also strengthens it by providing more seamless, convenient, and hygienic ways for passengers to travel. All people need is their smartphone and an app. Mobile ticketing also increases customer satisfaction by enabling fare equity options such as fare capping and best fare.
How does Mobile ticketing work?
Mobile ticketing is incredibly versatile and easy to use. All that riders need to do is simply download and install a mobile ticketing app on their smartphone. They can then create different routes for their trips, access real-time information and timetables, check arrival times of vehicles, and purchase and validate the fares they require to make a journey.
Fare collection happens through an account linked to а passenger which typically includes their personal information as well as a preferred method of payment. All purchased fares are stored in a digital wallet contained within the ticketing app where they are then used for validation across public transit systems.
What are some of the validation options available to passengers?
Validation can happen via scanning or visual inspection. After the rider pays for their ticket using the app, they can show it to the driver or validate it with some kind of hardware. Let’s look at a few examples.
Passengers purchase and activate their tickets before boarding a transit vehicle of their choice. The ticket is then shown to the driver or inspector. These digital tickets can be in the form of a picture or some sort of animation with a time/date stamp.
Mobile application & Barcodes
A mobile ticketing app can generate a unique barcode or a QR code that passengers can then scan on an electronic validator (scanner).
Mobile application & NFC
In an instance where NFC technology is used, the ticket is issued in the form of a discreet token generated by emulation software on the user’s phone. This method is generally not very popular because of the limitations regarding hardware and access to NFC technology of some smartphones.
Benefits of Mobile ticketing in the Transportation Sector
Although it’s been around for more than a decade, Mobile ticketing has completely transformed the transportation industry, with both riders and transit agencies taking advantage of its many benefits. Transit agencies are now able to achieve multimodal mobility that allows passengers to travel seamlessly across all transit networks. It’s about improved ridership experience, reduced operational costs, better functionality, optimized operations, and integration.
Benefits for Transit agencies
So can this type of mobile technology be added to existing transit operations? The short answer is yes. Mobile ticketing can be integrated with any fare collection system, providing more options and functionality for riders. Existing (legacy) validators can also be reused and customers’ smartphones can be used for validation by transit inspectors. Mobile ticketing also provides quick and easy access to a huge amount of ridership data which is critical for planning and reporting.
Reduced costs & optimized operations
By integrating mobile ticketing, a transit agency can significantly reduce the money they spend on expensive equipment such as fareboxes and TVMs (Ticket vending machines), as well as costs to do with maintenance. As we mentioned above, the system can be integrated with legacy equipment or from scratch. Deployment is quick and painless and in most parts can be done remotely. Transit agencies can also introduce and experiment with different fare strategies to suit the needs of their customers.
Additionally, with the reduction of cash, fewer workers are needed to count the collected fares which is typically a very time-consuming process.
Security & backend systems
If mobile ticketing has been integrated with an account-based fare collection system, fares are stored safely within the account of each passenger. If they lose their phone or need to reinstall the app, they can retrieve all of their fares by logging into their account.
The back office system manages and monitors the entire ticketing and payment environment and integrates with any existing AFC backend for fare management and reporting.
Customizable mobile applications
Mobile applications can be fully customizable and branded according to the agency’s requirements and corporate guidelines. The comprehensive functionality of such apps offers many advantages for the transit provider as they can better monitor customer information, optimize operations and provide adequate solutions.
At its core, Mobile ticketing is based on a system model that serves to effectively improve all aspects of the passenger’s journey. Transit agencies collect data from mobile ticketing apps and monitor it closely in order to understand and meet the needs and requirements of riders, improving their all-around customer experience.
The implementation and utilization of a mobile ticketing system allow transit agencies to remain flexible and adapt to future upgrades of system software and services, tailored to meet consumer needs with the latest technology available.
Benefits for Riders
Passengers on the other hand have access to more convenient methods of organizing a trip (some apps even provide trip planning) as well as choosing how to pay. They can personalize journeys, access real-time information, create routes, and purchase and validate their transit tickets using only their smartphones. It’s safer, hygienic, contactless, and environmentally friendly. It offers the kind of flexibility and simplicity that older, outdated ticketing systems couldn’t.
It’s simple and accessible
With mobile ticketing, all that a person needs to plan, pay, and travel is just their smartphone and an app that is connected to their account. Riders can simply scan the QR code of their ticket or pass and they are good to go. No longer do they have to worry about losing their passes and tickets or even if they happen to lose their smartphone, all purchased fares are still existing within their account, therefore they can still access them from another device (if integrated with an account-based fare collection system).
Convenience & reduced boarding time
Riders can now access real-time information about arrivals and departures from their phones, they can plan and select their route via different transit vehicles, purchase tickets and validate without the need for human interaction, there is no need to wait in long queues, carry cash or use ticket machines. In this way, a significant amount of time is deducted from their journey and they can reach their destination quicker, more seamlessly, and conveniently. This further boosts customer satisfaction and makes traveling easier allowing customers to feel better informed and more in control of their travel experience.
Mobile ticketing can be integrated into a multi-modal transit system to provide greater efficiency. A combined ticket for a whole ride, no matter which type of transportation is selected, is a great way to motivate riders to use public transit. It can also move towards the implementation of a single app that does everything from beginning to end. Since passengers will rely on the mobile ticketing app for the planning of their entire journey, a significant amount of stress is taken off them as opposed to scenarios in the past when this type of option was not available.
Mobile ticketing can lay the foundation of a service such as MaaS by integrating various modes of transit and transport-related services into a single, comprehensive, and on-demand mobility. From the moment passengers leave their front door, up until they reach their destination, planning and paying are based on what, and how much they use.
Flexible ways to pay
Making payments through our smartphones has pretty much become an inseparable part of our daily lives. It makes perfect sense why mobile ticketing is one of the best options for riders in terms of upgrading to a platform where everything is in one place and paying for journeys is easier than ever.
Automatic Fare Collection systems reduce the number of staff required for the running of operations within an agency and are considered more efficient from the riders’ perspective as passengers acquire and validate their transit documentation themselves. It uses hardware and software for this purpose and riders can choose and use various validation media to gain access to public transport networks.
Reducing the ecological footprint of a city
Disposable tickets and plastic cards are quite costly and require a substantial amount of raw materials to be produced. Tickets that are disposable are made of an inlay consisting of a chip and antenna covered with double-sided paper and protective film. Plastic smart cards additionally have an inner chip and antenna covered with double-sided petroleum-derived PVC material and a double-sided protective film.
The production of these products requires dyes for printing and machines that produce heat and pressure to bring all the layers together. All of this combined increases carbon emissions and raw material usage.
Implementing a mobile ticketing solution reduces the number of tickets issued, which can positively impact the environment. Decreasing the amount of plastic associated with ticket production also helps transit agencies use their resources much more efficiently.
Mobile ticketing provides valuable data which can be used for planning, optimization, and CO2 analytics. Agencies benefit by reducing their operational costs and improving revenue, as well as putting an emphasis on customer experience and satisfaction by offering the right services and products to them. Enhanced data collection allows for more efficiency, new revenue streams, and better choices being made in regard to the environment. A transit agency can also introduce and experiment with different fare strategies.
Mobile ticketing is a great step towards better and smarter city infrastructure. The reality is that it is not as daunting as it may sound. It’s a process based on simplicity and can be easily integrated into an existing city’s transit system. If implemented correctly, Mobile ticketing can effectively improve the quality of life of citizens, reduce the ecological footprint of a city, create a better environment for both passengers and public transport staff, remove outdated systems, and allow transit agencies to flourish with new solutions and technology that is beneficial to everyone involved. Whatever the future holds, it is no doubt an exciting time, with constant technological developments that allow for many amazing improvements to be made in the transportation sector.