Smart ticketing is not a new concept. Most people are aware of digital tickets such as Oyster and Navigo which emerged in the early 2000’s. However, e-ticketing has now reached a new milestone. Contactless bank cards now offer a comparable service, making transport easier to access than ever. This has, in recent years, become an underpinning service of smart cities where commuters can pay and validate their trips simultaneously.
While bank cards have been successful in increasing user experience, mobile devices, too, have become an easy method of payment thanks to the evolution of smartphones. These offer more than just easy access with the ability to look up real-time information, allowing multimodality and streamlining the transport experience.
Alongside this, many startups and businesses are looking to leave their mark on the e-ticketing system. MotionTag, for example, is developing a Check-in/Be-out design using geolocation algorithms. Similarly, Atsuke have rolled out an SMS-based ticketing system to a number of cities across Switzerland.
Perhaps one of the most eye-catching new systems on the scene is that of the EQT Support/Berlin shoe: trainers which double up as transport tickets. The shoes are a product of a collaboration between Adidas and BVG (Berlin’s transport company). The proud owners of the lucrative shoes can enjoy unlimited annual travel from 700e, courtesy of the transit pass perfectly hidden away in the tongues of the trainers.
With a myriad of methods to choose from, it’s no wonder that e-ticketing is rapidly taking off in smart cities around the world. But how does that affect us, the consumer?
Obviously, it makes our travelling and commuting easier. But it is also much more than that. Smart tickets are impossible to lose, and far more difficult to steal than their paper counterparts. While there is still some question as to the extent of possible fraud, e-ticketing remains the most secure way to travel.
Smart ticketing services are always available, and not limited to where you physically are. How many times have we been running late for a train, only to have to run to ticket kiosk to buy a ticket, and missed our commute? E-tickets cut out this hassle and provide a constant and easy service continuously.
Finally, and most importantly, smart tickets are cheaper. This is because they lack physical resources and are designed to be used in intelligent and integrated systems. And, with a plethora of business and systems reporting cheaper prices, the public are paying more attention. This has meant that companies and cities able to roll out smart-ticketing are kickstarting the market and driving competitive rates that benefit citizens.
But creating and maintaining these systems isn’t easy. They require large infrastructure, big data collection and analysis, and many soft and hardware components. The benefits however far outweigh the risk, and the steady rise in smart tickets is set to continue. The UK Department of Transport for example is set to launch a full smart ticketing service by the end of 2018, with a predicted £80 million boost.
Ultimately, citizens want smart ticketing. Alongside the benefits of these systems, business also needs to focus on how they underpin the goals of smart cities themselves: that is smarter, cheaper, easier travel which improves the lives of citizens.