How we can deliver the Transport Secretary’s vision for smart ticketing
Like many in the transport ticketing arena, we welcome the engaged and strong approach Chris Grayling, UK Government Transport Secretary, is taking to smart ticketing. His vision of a joined-up ticketing network encourages the transport community to look beyond immediate and local needs, and embrace the positive impact that a more open and simplistic approach to ticketing would bring to travellers.
An important element of joined-up ticketing is interoperability and adoption. The strategy must be long-term and objectives achievable, while delivering immediate benefits for the travelling public.
It’s the right approach
London is often positioned as a benchmark for convenient passenger ticketing. The Oyster system offers ‘Pay as You Go’ travel using smart cards and phones, and there is a growing demand throughout the UK for similar services (albeit with much tougher budget constraints).
So, how can this vision and demand be realised? Most UK infrastructure today, including Bus, Rail and Metro, supports ITSO based interoperable ticketing with many successful schemes up and running with Pay as You Go travel models.
As Chris Grayling indicates, the transport ticketing community needs to leverage the investment already made in existing smart ticketing infrastructure to deliver seamless travel for the public. Further, it needs to focus on an interoperable approach. ITSO based smart ticket acceptance is already established nationally, and using this as a platform we can deliver simpler forms of ticketing while learning from the example set by London in terms of the passenger ticketing experience. There is a desire to do this, but operators, suppliers and government must all play their part in making this a reality.
Maintaining accessibility and reflecting requirements
In implementing this approach it is important to maintain accessibility to the system for the people who really need it. Nationwide ticketing, whether traveling on national rail or using multiple modes of transport, needs to align to the requirements of all its users and must be inclusive for the wide range of demographics throughout the U.K. who regularly use public transport. This means offering a multi-modal system that is accessible for all.
It is also important to be sure we are reflecting traveller requirements. Most travellers are not concerned with the underlying technology of a smart ticketing system; they require flexible and transparent ticketing which provides convenience and value. We need to deliver more with what we have in place now, but significantly improve the customer experience while doing so. Mobile platforms and value add services are key to this.
HCE mobile ticketing
There are initiatives happening now, such as HCE mobile ticketing on ITSO in the North of England, which brings together multiple operators, local authorities and technology providers to deliver secure mobile ticketing that operates with existing infrastructure. This offers passengers the ability to use an app to choose, purchase and then download a secure smart ticket to their mobile phone. This expands choice for passengers beyond ticket vending machines or queuing at ticket desks to collect, purchase tickets or top-up pay-as-you-go value. They can simply tap their mobile on a gate and step onto their train. This also provides significant value to public transport operators as it reduces the resources needed to physically produce and issue a ticket, whilst freeing station staff to support travellers on station platforms.
Challenging the norm
What is clear is that we need to think differently about ticketing. We need to put the traveller at the heart of our systems and embrace the new technologies that they are using. Most importantly, we need to look beyond local boundaries to deliver flexible and open systems which are accessible to all.