Mobile tickets, otherwise known as mTickets, are fast becoming a popular onboard technology for transport networks. But what are the benefits of switching to mobile ticketing, and can they be integrated into your network without disrupting services?
What does it mean for payments?
Payment systems can be set up easily through online payment platforms like Stripe, Braintree or Paypal. The cost of payments to transport companies is minimal, and can actually reduce overall costs. Additionally, companies can centralise their revenues and better track how variant factors like national holidays, sporting events and even weather conditions can affect takings.
Providing all revenues go through a secure platform, online payments can reduce the risk of passengers underpaying or providing outdated and obsolete currency.
Onboard WiFi for mobile ticketing
Of course, passengers won’t use WiFi to load their ticket before they board, largely because WiFi becomes available when they board and waiting for everyone to load their tickets would add too much time to the boarding process.
However, the mobile ticketing machine can connect to the Sygnal server, which in turn communicates with a database back at the bus HQ to ensure all passenger information is up-to-date.
That’s why more transport companies today opt for an app, in which new tickets can be activated and cached beforehand. In this way, passengers can download their latest ticket before leaving the house, ready to show to the driver or scan through an m-ticketing machine.
For passengers, downloading tickets in advance enables them to check times and avoid using data. The same app can be used onboard (using Sygnal onboard WiFi, of course) for anything from real-time journey information to the latest ticket deals.
Using mobile ticketing to reduce costs and drive revenues
Of course, adding m-Ticketing can be a daunting prospect to bus and coach companies, but it doesn’t have to be a disruptive addition. Many transport companies have opted to retain the ‘ticket on sight’ system, whereby passengers simply show the driver their ticket. Providing tickets are purchased through an app system, this won’t prevent companies from gathering data on the type of tickets purchased, at what time and by whom.
When a company does integrate mTicketing into their business, the rewards can be significant. Companies use less paper without the need to print tickets onboard. Less fuel is wasted as people don’t have to look for cash, which also benefits the environment.
With the addition of a mobile app, transport networks can more easily keep track of who’s using their services and offer personalised deals. For instance, if a bus company sees that someone commutes every morning and night, they can target that customer directly through the app with a special weekly ticket offer.
Streamlining your coach service
Not only can mTicketing reduce overheads, it can also streamline other aspects of the service. Because mobile ticketing reduces waiting times, services become more punctual, encouraging more people to use the transport. Passengers can be updated on new developments, including delays to services, changes to routes and new offers.
As national transport networks shift to multimodal travel services, mobile ticketing will be an essential element of this cross-transport technology. Integrations with other forms of transport such as ride-sharing and metro services become simpler when all the required access tools are centralised. For a passenger arriving by train in a new city, a transport service that functions on the same platform as their train ticket will be infinitely more attractive than one that does not.
Of course, with the introduction of any new technology, there will be challenges. It’s true that not everyone has a mobile, or access to the technology to regularly download tickets.
Some critics have suggested the introduction of mTicketing shuts out poorer people in society. However, mobile usage is roughly the same across all social groups, and the proliferation of WiFi in public spaces has made the connection required to download tickets more accessible than ever.
For those without a smartphone or whose smartphone breaks or runs out of battery, presenting a ticket can become more challenging. That’s why many companies retain some kind of paper or ‘flash pass’ ticketing system.
So while there may be some initial kinks to be ironed out introducing mobile ticketing, the long-term rewards make it worthwhile.