Transport Ticketing Global 2023: Data Collection, AFC, and ABT

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By Sam Gazeley | 2Q 2023 | IN-6905

After a few years in hiatus owing to the COVID-19 pandemic, Transport Ticketing Global 2023 returned for another round, this time pivoting around the key concepts of account-based ticketing, fare collection innovations, and conversations around data collection, management, and analytics.

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Transport Ticketing Back on the Road


The Transport Ticketing Global 2023 conference saw many discussions taking place on key trends in the ticketing market. Since being adversely affected by the pandemic and associated lockdowns of public transit systems, ecosystem players were keen to gather and discuss how the market can best move forward and which solutions are likely to gain the most traction in a post-COVID era. Given the COVID lockdowns which existed for the vast majority of transit networks, travel patterns and behaviors changed across the board. Passengers now have a stronger inclination towards flexibility in their travel, and the traditional one-day and season tickets have reduced in popularity from the pre-pandemic era as fewer people commute daily.

Data was a critical topic at TTG 2023, as it relates to how it is used and how it can be leveraged to become more efficient. There was a noticeable increase in the number of vendors present offering as-a-Service solutions, including data gathering to drive further efficiencies and further understand userbases. Operators now have a range of vendors, such as Vix Technology, Scheidt & Bachmann, and Snapper, from which to procure services and gain the ability to use any of the ticketing and passenger data collected, including driver performance through to revenue and from passenger boarding points through to vehicle occupancy, to beyond.

The second subject of choice was that of open standards. While it is clear that Transit Authorities (TA) will lose some control over their networks when migrating to open loop, open standards agencies are shifting strategies to provide a solution that enables transport authorities and operators to retain as much control of their transit network as feasible while still complying with relevant regulations.

Finally, while the overall trend in the global ticketing ecosystem is migrating steadily towards open-loop and providing travelers with more choice as to how to pay, what is also becoming evident is that open-loop is not a silver bullet. The trajectory for the ticketing market will result in an enriched dynamic which will feature a combination of closed- and open-loop ticketing solutions, though whether this will be based on proprietary protocols or EMV is still largely dependent on many factors such as cost, existing infrastructure, ridership levels, and Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance.

Data Collection and AFC Take Center Stage


Some of the key offerings on display at TTG 2023 revolved around data acquisition and management, automated fare collection and account-based ticketing:

Vix Technology: Fare collection solutions provider Vix Technology, the key driver behind UK-based bus firm Stagecoach adoption of contactless payments, provided a demonstration of its Pulse Automatic Fare Collection (AFC) platform based in the cloud. Pulse was developed to provide TA’s with the opportunity to build on their customer happiness while reducing operating costs through a system built around real-time validation and the ability to support a wide choice of fare products and payment methods, including a compelling mobile payment experience. Pulse combines fare collection, ticketing, and payments across multiple modes of transport into one digitized platform for a seamless experience. It includes omni-channel customer management including sales and tokens, as well as customer self-service for individuals and institutions/third parties.

Flowbird: Demonstrating a plethora of its offerings in the ticketing and fare collection market, Flowbird held the majority of discussion around account-based ticketing solutions. They share the wider ecosystem view that Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) is fast becoming the lynchpin of mobility ticketing in the modern age with a keen eye on the development of Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). Tokenization can be leveraged in order to ensure travelers are offered the best travel rates, while calculations are finalized in the back office. Such a solution can be extended to reach closed-loop cards, cEMV cards, contactless enabled mobile wallets, and QR codes. Aside from demonstrating the solution itself, it was clear how ABT can support Public Transit Operators (PTOs) Pin their efforts to ramp up the efficiency of fare collection, with Flowbird presenting their CloudFare back office infrastructure.

Snapper: In the modern age, while data acquisition is widespread, there is a disconnect between data gathering and analyzing, which exists in the transit network level. Operators can gather data but can find it challenging to convert this to meaningful decisions and drive further efficiencies, with data sources often disjointed, and the main solution of analytics software becoming increasingly costly and complicated to implement. Without such a solution, it becomes a difficult proposition for transit authorities to establish which segments of their transport network are lacking efficiency or where investment is best suited. The Mosaiq system developed by Snapper aims to target this portion of the market by providing analytics dashboards which enable TA’s to extend capabilities, identify inefficiencies across transit routes and maintain vision over their operations. The resulting improvements in  transport experiences for travelers on the network will help generate revenue for PTO’s which have struggled in the post-pandemic travel environment.

How Have PTO's Reacted Since COVID?


The pandemic presented operators with significant downtime in which to perform much needed improvements to their networks. The widely established familiarity of travelers with contactless payments has resulted in open loop systems based on such designs being effortlessly implemented, with high usage rates. The overarching perspective from TTG 2023 is that operators and authorities, especially those in emerging economic areas, are now well equipped to deal with the issues of today owing to the aforementioned ticketing developments they need to implement advanced and future-proof solutions.

Travelers are emerging from the last few years with heightened expectations of their travel and payment experiences and are progressively demanding seamless journeys from their transit operators of choice, which is being answered by modernized MaaS launches from providers such as Masabi to deliver seamless door-to-door travel. However, traveler demands have now transitioned beyond the scope of inter-city travel. MaaS projects have to explore the potential to integrate authorities and operators from multiple cities and cross-border, into larger-scale networks to provide a truly uninterrupted and seamless experience. As a final note, TTG 2023 conclusively proved that the ticketing ecosystem is embarking on a time of change. New offerings, infrastructures, and projects are going to be delivered faster and more efficiently than in pre-pandemic times.



Companies Mentioned