UrbanThings at the Annual Ticketing Innovation Summit

I was fortunate enough to attend this year’s Annual Ticketing Innovation Summit in Lisbon, held in the luxurious surroundings of the Pestana Palace hotel.

It was a hugely interesting and informative couple of days for me, focused on the transportation sector. There was access to top-flight thought leadership and some of Europe’s largest transportation operators and suppliers such as Belgian Mobility Card, Czech Railways, Telesoftas and Calypso card networks. Not to mention a slightly crazy amphibious sight-seeing trip which was both entertaining and gave our company insurance policy a healthy stress test.

There was almost too much to write about, but as an ambitious start-up looking to extend our mobile ticketing offering, some of my key take-home messages were:

The mobile ticketing wave is coming

100% of the operators on the ATIS panel agreed that the next generation of transport ticketing would be mobile.

The applications of data are hugely undervalued

Paul Rooijmans from Lynxx gave an entertaining and fascinating presentation on data in public transport. Operators collect massive amounts of data on passenger movements and payments. Where they fall short, though, is putting it to good use. With some careful thinking, operators can gain new insights and boost their efficiency through analysis of data. Ask him about coffee machine data!

Every transport market is different

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for ticketing. Pierre-Paul Bertieaux from Belgian Mobility Card provided a tangible example. In Luxembourg, transit authorities trust passengers, thus revenue protection measures are scant. Whereas in Belgium, a comparable system would lose millions in revenue. The Belgians (we’re told) are far more prone to try and get away with a free ride!

Contactless is not the new king

There are substantial drawbacks in using contactless cards for transportation ticketing. They can’t store trip details. They can’t display their balance or recent journeys. The readers are expensive for operators, and the card fees can be prohibitively high. In developing countries like Indonesia, contactless barely gets a look in and transport operators use local banks to achieve far more economical ticketing without paying those exorbitant card fees.

This is just a flavour of some of the many things that I absorbed in what was a fun and interactive couple of days. Many thanks to Luxatia International, the organisers and Mike Burden, the excellent chairman.