"We now have the means to implement it. Account-based ticketing continues to gain momentum."
The huge progress made in rail transport ticketing and the expectation that 2018 will be the year that the industry will see big changes was on display at one of the world’s largest public transport events, Transport Ticketing Global (TTG18). The two-day annual exhibition attracted hundreds of representatives from across government, rail operators and technology suppliers from around the world.
Now in its tenth year, TTG18 kicked off proceedings with a keynote from the UK’s Department for Transport (DfT), framing the event with an update on the plans that have been in the sights of the industry at previous events but are which now within grasp. Fiona Walshe, head of passenger experience policy at the DfT told a packed auditorium that the government was “absolutely committed” to improving ticketing, an area she said “presented a great opportunity for market engagement”.
“Last year a considerable amount needed to be done in smart ticketing,” said Walshe who added that it is now at a stage whereby it will be rolled-out across the country by the end of the year.
Hosted once again at Old Billingsgate Market – the resplendent venue just minutes away from the regenerated London Bridge station that reflects the futuristic vision set out by TTG18 – the show brought together hundreds of attendees including decision makers and operators from around the world to share experiences, listen to company leaders and check out the latest smart ticketing technology. That technology was very much on show this year, with more than 80 companies showcasing their wares.
Following Walshe was Aaron Ross, managing director of Vix Technology, one of the leaders of a company that aims to be at the centre of the changes Walshe discussed. Ross focused his talk on the concept of something that’s arguably more important today than it has ever been: time. “Time is a valuable resource and customers are likely to be unhappy if we take it for granted. The outcome could be catastrophic,” said Ross, adding that time was something the rail industry has to focus on when making the necessary technological changes.
Another technology company with its eyes set firmly on the smart ticketing market, Masabi were in attendance to give a talk on whether account-based ticketing, rather than subscription, was the future of mobility as a service (MaaS). Josh Nicklin, head of business development at Masabi was clear that it was and argued that installing such a system would be great news for densely-packed areas. “Account-based ticketing puts the city at the heart of MaaS, helping to cut congestion and keeps things moving,” he said.
Mastercard wasn't the only major credit card company talking at the show. Its direct competitor Visa was also there with pretty remarkable figures that showed the public’s appetite to use their bank cards to pay for travel. According to Visa statistics, Nick Mackie, the company’s head of contactless and transit, said that in Europe in the year up to the end of September 2017, more than 8.5 billion transactions had been made on around 3.5 million terminals, which accounted for nearly 45% of all face-to-face transactions in the continent.
TTG18 also hosted, as it does every year, lively panel discussions exploring key industry issues with executives from some of the most recognisable firms in the industry. One such debate, which tackled the issue of how mobility as a service (MaaS) can play a more active role, featured Consult Hyperion, Great Western Railway, Finland’s ministry of transport and communications, Uber and Mastercard. In a debate that involved every member of the group, Great Western Railway’s future ticketing technical advisor, Kevin Ayton, said that knowing the customer was fundamental to smart ticketing’s success.
“We need to get to grips with the customer and what it is they want if we’re to move forward,” affirmed Ayton.
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