Ticketer: we’re here to help 08/07/2020

John Clarfelt, CEO and Co-founder of Ticketer, has written the latest guest blog for CPT. John provides an overview of the technology and innovation Ticketer has delivered to bus operators over the past few months in response to Covid-19.  

My mother always told me blogs should be short and punchy – I therefore have no idea why I was asked to contribute. For those of you who don’t know me, or Ticketer, we are basically here to deliver the latest technology and innovations to bus operators – to increase passenger numbers and help make operations run smoothly. And never has there been a more important or opportune time to focus on new innovations and bring fresh, new ways of looking at things.

The industry has gone through significant, seismic changes over the past few months. Passenger numbers have dropped significantly, consistently running at 10% of “normal” across the UK during full lockdown, albeit now rising, with passenger numbers back at 30%, and 75% of services running as against “normal”. Government across the UK has supported the bus industry strongly, and impressively quickly, with good service provision and very few failures as a result. But as we return to some limited form of normality (sic) buses are now limited to some 25% of normal capacity, and Government has been actively discouraging bus travel, albeit this advice is expected to be softened shortly.

People’s travelling habits changed overnight and nobody yet knows the future shape of the industry. But every challenge is an opportunity, and we should embrace this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to shift from cars, and the previous ever-increasing pollution and congestion, to public transport, with greater integration to walking and cycling. 

There should be no sacred cows. Some bus operators are already refusing to accept cash, but this is not just a case of growing touch-free ticketing on bus (and we are seeing a rapid, and necessary, rollout of ITSO/EMV contactless and mTicketing ETMs) but the need for a host of additional features to help keep both the passenger and driver safe. In our case, we have deployed the new £45 contactless limit to all our Electronic Ticket Machines (ETMs), and added a new real time passenger occupancy feature for drivers and passengers alike, which recently has been extended for wheelchair users. Destination blinds will soon be displaying free seats, and there is no reason they cannot show the estimated timings of following buses. Capacity is tight and every little helps.

I believe passionately that the industry needs to be bold – if we do not grasp the opportunity for fundamental changes then the opportunity will be lost, and we will be back to the “old ways”, but simply on a reduced scale. And the most fundamental change of all – operators need to work together, not in isolation. With reduced capacity, every free seat is sacrosanct. Passengers' loyalty should be to bus, or public transport, not the operator. Tickets should be multi-operator, and preferably multi-modal, improved technology allows for accurate and equitable distribution of funds, and real time information across multiple fleets. Simplicity, and ease of travel, is all.

Follow us at: @Ticketer_UK

Find out more about Ticketer at: www.ticketer.com

About John: John believed ticketing could be revolutionised, using cloud-technology, to simplify things for the operator, so in 2009 he co-founded Ticketer. John is known in the industry for his old-fashioned values yet leads the charge in terms of ticketing innovation and in April, Ticketer received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Innovation. John and the team at Ticketer found this to be particularly encouraging for the industry to be acknowledged in this way, during these extraordinary times.