What’s next for transport ticketing in 2024?

UTN Online Desk Posted on: 2024-02-07 17:00:00 Viewer: 2,348 Comments: 0 Country: United Kingdom City:

What’s next for transport ticketing in 2024?

2024 marks four years since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the transit world hard. Its legacy can be felt in a more flexible, hybrid approach to working and commuting patterns: commuter volumes simply haven’t returned to pre-pandemic levels. And while some networks have responded well, for example the London Underground which has reached 90% of its previous ridership, others are still struggling. Boston’s MBTA, for example is only at 57% of its pre-covid ridership, despite reinstating 86% of its service.

This contrast between two major cities is essentially due to an overreliance on commuters and an inability to make up for the shortfall caused by the rise of hybrid working. London has recovered well thanks to a well distributed ridership base. By considering the needs of not just commuters, but also tourists, occasional users and even those making a single trip, London has been able to offset the reduction in commuters with other demographics.

2024 will be defined not by how well networks can regain previously lost passengers, but rather how they attract new ones away from private vehicles.

New and inclusive ticketing options

Creating a balanced network that appeals to all demographics and provides a service that is more efficient, dependable, comfortable and trusted than private vehicle usage is easier said than done, but it is not impossible.

Traditional weekly or monthly tickets may have previously met the needs of the daily commuter, but passenger movement patterns are changing. Networks also need to meet the requirements of multiple different demographics. In short, any successful ticketing system now must offer more: it must be more agile, more pragmatic and more flexible. Passengers always look for value and reliability from public transit, so tariff structures must meet this demand.

While a large number of commuters will still want fixed term travel cards, additional options including enhanced Pay-as-you-Go solutions and accessible concessionary fares will allow networks to diversify their offer in 2024, providing tickets that are more appropriate to the usage requirements of more people.

Combining these offers with innovative solutions designed for Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) can create unified multi-modal offers that give the same door-to-door convenience of private vehicles, at an affordable cost and without the issues of traffic jams and parking.

Digitally inclusive; not exclusively digital

Mobile ticketing (mTicketing) is one way for networks to take a more digital approach. This helps mitigate the challenge of issuing physical tickets at station kiosks by allowing passengers to purchase, store and use tickets from smart devices they already own. It also helps advance sustainability goals by reducing the volume of paper or plastic that is used for the tickets themselves.

These digital solutions can be seamlessly incorporated into unified mobility offerings, allowing users to switch between modes of transport throughout a network using just their smartphone.

But, a word of caution: it is crucial that this move towards mobile tickets does not entirely eliminate physical alternatives. Users that are less technologically willing, literate or able must not be restricted from accessing mobility services; operators and authorities must make sure that a range of different fare media are always readily available.

Building resilience into chip supply chains

The shutdown of key supply chain infrastructure during the pandemic caused a global shortage of chips, and while supply has returned to sufficient levels, we must learn from it.

Proximity cards like a Calypso smartcard or an EMV® Chip card are based on the ISO/IEC 14443 standard. Within this standard, cards can be either Type A, initially designed to be lower cost and memory only cards, or Type B cards which first came to market with higher end microprocessors and security. While the differences between the two types of card have now vanished, with both able to support microprocessors and memory, the banking industry primarily favours Type A. This means the overwhelming number of cards and supporting components produced are Type A. Therefore, to leverage economies of scale in the manufacturing process, ticketing operators can look to transition to Type A with Calypso.

In most cases, adapting to accept both card types can be achieved through a software update to existing terminal infrastructure: in other words, the built-in reader. This is where terminal certification is so important, confirming acceptance of both card types so PTOs and PTAs can operate with confidence. By making this migration, networks can build resistance into their supply chains, helping them avoid vendor lock in and remain agile to market pressures.

Physical mobility induces economic mobility

Networks must constantly reevaluate their ticketing offer to ensure they meet the needs and expectations of the communities they serve. Inclusive and interoperable ticketing means that physical access to job opportunities, leisure activities, or visiting friends and family are available to all, without discrimination. In 2024, networks around the world have the opportunity to facilitate previously unprecedented levels of access for all, and it begins with an open ticketing framework.

Creating an inclusive and interoperable offer will help elevate an entire network. It forms the foundation of a modern mass transit system that offers a reliable, dependable and affordable alternative to private vehicle use. And in the words of former mayor of Bogota, Enrique Peñalosa: “An advanced city is not one where the poor own a car, but one where the rich use public transport.”

(This article is authored by Yann Chermat, COO, Calypso Networks Association)

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