Increase ridership through mobile ticketing

November 29, 2019
Chloe Johns

mobile ticketing

How to encourage more people to take public transport has been a question faced by every city and local authority worldwide. The UK government’s quarterly bus statistics report shows that yet again, bus ridership is falling in the UK. At UrbanThings we believe that buses will still play a key role in future mobility, and we’re convinced that smart ticketing can facilitate ridership growth in this sector. 

The way people pay for things has changed dramatically in recent years. FirstGroup recently reported that for the first time in its history, more passengers are paying with contactless or mobile apps rather than cash on their services. Studies have shown that 85% of UK adults now have access to a smartphone and people are also carrying less cash than ever before. Public transport operators are increasingly moving to mobile ticketing to take advantage of the shift in habits, so why is ridership falling if these trends are already being addressed?

Perhaps the answer lies in the younger demographic.  Earlier in the year, we wrote an article on how bus services should be built for young people. The 16-18 year-old age group are the largest demographic of bus users in the UK, but according to the Bus Passenger Survey, they are also the least satisfied. Passengers want bus travel to be more user-friendly; they want to be able to see real-time information and buy tickets through their smartphones. 

The power of passenger data

At UrbanThings we’re well-placed to address this issue; our product Ticketless™ combines mobile ticketing with a cloud-based mobility platform and back office. It provides invaluable passenger data such as live vehicle loading, and route optimisation data such as under/over-served routes. Using this data not only means that money can be saved by improving operations, but routes can be planned based on actual passenger behaviour. Better routes provide a better passenger experience, meaning more people are likely to turn to public transport as a mode of travel. 

At UrbanThings we also use Bluetooth beacons to facilitate passenger data capture. As passengers board the vehicle, their smartphone connects to beacons placed at strategic points inside. When they disembark, the beacon will no longer be able to detect the smartphone and will send a ‘check-off’ notification to the back-office. This way, operators can see live occupancy data for their fleet. 

increase ridership with mobile ticketing

Since June 2019, we’ve had an active role to play in encouraging younger riders back onto the bus. UrbanThings’ customer Pilkington Bus in Lancashire implemented our innovative Hex Tag technology on their school services in June 2019. Since then, they have seen an increase in children using smart-ticketing on their school services. Features such as parent notifications and ticket gifting mean that more parents have the confidence to send their child to school by bus. 

It’s not just about attracting younger riders.  There are many ways in which operators can make their services more desirable to passengers of all ages in order to increase ridership, and smart ticketing can play a big part. Giving passengers the control to purchase tickets from their smartphone, and see live arrival times and route information, can grow their confidence in using different modes of transport. A recent survey by PWC showed that 67% of passengers would prefer to use a smart option if they could choose any type of ticket. The passenger data that is gathered by operators can be used to improve those services, resulting in satisfied passengers and increases in ridership.  

UrbanThings will be at Transport Ticketing Global in January 2020 where you can find out more. Alternatively, you can get in touch with our team to see how we can help you implement a new smart ticketing platform and increase your ridership through mobile ticketing.