Mobile ticketing – the evolution from hardware to software

February 25, 2019
Chloe Johns

mobile ticketing

It’s no surprise that we’re huge advocates of mobile ticketing. In fact, we believe that one day, mobile has the potential to completely replace all ticketing hardware and infrastructure. But, in 2019, is this feasible?

Certainly operators are beginning to embrace mobile ticketing. Passengers no longer expect to pay the driver in cash for their travel, and they won’t tolerate long dwell times whilst somebody searches for a lost smart card. Passengers are looking for a frictionless journey, and payment flow is a particularly important part of that. Mobile ticketing is key to reducing this friction, improving customer experience and driving adoption.

Old solutions

Whilst there are some transport operators who still use paper tickets, a majority of European operators run a smart card solution. Smart cards however, have some major drawbacks.

  • Smart cards are old. The first smart card trials took place nearly 40 years ago
  • Smart cards are expensive. It can cost more than £0.5m to fit out an average sized fleet, and then you have the maintenance costs on top of that
  • Smart cards aren’t environmentally friendly.  9 tonnes of waste plastic is generated per year from the Oyster card scheme alone*
  • Smart cards aren’t passenger friendly. Unlike mobile-ticketing, there’s no screen. Passengers can’t plan and pay for their journey in one place
  • Smart cards give limited operational insights. They can’t provide the operator with live occupancy data (unless you ask the passenger to tap out, which increases friction making the passenger experience worse)

New solutions

So, why not further embrace the technology your customers already own? Nearly 7 out of 10 of your passengers are carrying:

  • A biometrically secure device
  • Which is 100 times faster than the enormous ticket machines on vehicles
  • Your passengers pay to upgrade it, not you
  • It is Bluetooth aware, so it knows when your passengers are on a vehicle
  • It has NFC, so passengers can tap in or out
  • A smartphone allows you to put the planning and the payment in one place for a better passenger experience

There is no denying that we are heading towards a completely ticketless future. Our product Ticketless™ lays the foundations to a fully BiBo (be-in, be-out) system, providing a completely frictionless journey. Passengers keep their smartphones in their pockets, and simply walk on to a vehicle, travel, and walk off. For operators, the data generated is key to service optimisation. Once you know where your passengers are travelling, we can generate data such as live vehicle loading, and identify under and over served routes. The reduction in lost mileage alone would be a huge cost saving.

But is it realistic to expect a world where mobile is the only payment option?

To put it simply, not yet.

Operators need to begin planning for a future where a vast majority of their passengers have a mobile device, but the solution needs to be a balanced approach. Ticketless works together with operators to offer a range of check-in options. We can integrate with existing hardware such as NFC/EMV whilst embracing this exciting new world of mobile. Our product is check-in agnostic, and the data we can gather by automatically checking your passengers out is invaluable.

To find out more about m-ticketing and our Ticketless solution, feel free to contact our team.

*We calculated this figure based on published numbers of lost and stolen oyster cards in 2017.