Modernizing local public transportation involves shifting from traditional paper-based ticketing to efficient mobile and account-based systems.

16 Feb

Modernizing local public transportation involves shifting from traditional paper-based ticketing to efficient mobile and account-based systems.

Local public transportation, particularly its ticketing systems, is experiencing a compelling demand for modernization, a necessity that is particularly acute for small to mid-sized transit agencies. These agencies often grapple with outdated ticketing processes, where passengers predominantly purchase paper tickets from physical locations like libraries, community centers, and vending machines, mostly paying in cash. This conventional method poses inefficiencies and challenges for transit agencies, as managing cash and vending machines is both costly and intricate. Additionally, this system keeps passenger identities anonymous, hindering agencies from collecting valuable customer data crucial for refining service offerings.

For passengers, this traditional system is inconvenient and occasionally more expensive. They are required to visit specific locations to buy tickets, risking additional costs at vending machines or on buses, which often do not provide change. Moreover, paper tickets come with expiration dates, leading to potential losses if plans change or tickets are misplaced.

The current landscape is witnessing a significant push from both political spheres and the public for the modernization of local public transport. This shift is not only seen as a stride towards environmental protection but also as an encouragement for people to opt for public transport over personal vehicles, especially crucial for those without access to cars. Consequently, there is an increase in public funding directed towards infrastructure upgrades, with a central focus on the modernization of ticketing systems, offering the potential to significantly lower barriers to accessing public transport.

Mobile ticketing emerges as a pivotal solution, though it often requires users to possess a bank account. To ensure fairness and accessibility for those without one, transit agencies can introduce cash payment alternatives. This approach enables customers to top up their app accounts with cash, assisted by employees at transit centers, ensuring that mobile ticketing remains accessible to a wider range of users, including those who do not use or have access to traditional banking services.

Another progressive method to modernize public transport ticketing is through account-based ticketing. In this system, passengers no longer need to purchase physical tickets. Instead, they utilize a tap-to-pay method from an established account. This involves using a mobile device or a card linked to their account to tap an electronic validator, automatically deducting the fare from their account. The specifics of the account and payment media can vary based on the type of account-based ticketing implemented, with closed-loop and open-loop systems being the main categories.

Deciding between mobile ticketing and account-based ticketing for modernizing ticket workflows depends on various factors unique to each transit agency. Financial resources, time available for modernization, and long-term objectives play a crucial role in this decision-making process.

For small to mid-sized transit agencies, mobile ticketing is often the recommended choice due to its rapid start and minimal initial investment. Specialized software solutions, available as cloud-based software-as-a-service, eliminate the need for agencies to maintain their own infrastructure, keeping upfront costs low. These solutions also ensure customer data is handled in compliance with data protection laws. Implementation is typically fast, with app launches possible within four to six weeks after contract signing. Transit agencies can handle the configuration themselves without requiring extensive technical expertise.

However, for those aiming to eventually transition to account-based ticketing, starting with mobile ticketing is a strategic move. Agencies can enhance their solutions modularly, integrating services like on-demand transit to evolve into a comprehensive mobility platform. Many software solutions support both ticketing types, facilitating a smooth transition. Agencies with an established mobile ticketing system and high user adoption are in an advantageous position to advance to account-based ticketing, presenting a progressive and adaptable approach to meet the evolving needs of modern public transportation.


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