We recently met with Bus & Coach Buyer to chat about how our Next Generation ETM is paving the way for a new era for ticketing.
You can read the feature below, or visit Bus & Coach Buyer for the full article.
Something huge is happening for ticketing and data analytics specialist Ticketer. After more than a decade of success with its current device, the next generation of the Ticketer Electronic Ticket Machine (ETM) is about to launch. It is due to make its first appearance in Transport for Greater Manchester‘s Bee Network in September, in the first example of UK franchising outside of London.
Richard Blackburn-Hughes, Chief Commercial Officer at Ticketer, told B&CB: “We’ve brought our current Ticketer ETM into a new era and updated it with all the progress that has happened in technology since our last design. The key update is we’re moving to using an Android-based tablet as the heart of the machine. It’s an evolution as opposed to a revolution; the look and feel of the machine stays the same.”
Their Ticketer Handheld ticket machine is what paved the way forward for the switch to Android. Richard says: “We’ve proven it works on the Ticketer software already and I think one of the things that really prompted us was seeing the success of that Handheld in the market, and the reaction from customers on how easy it is to use and the transaction speed. It made us look at the existing machines and realise there were performance improvements we could unlock by going down this route.”
“…One of the things that really prompted us was seeing the success of that Handheld in the market, and the reaction from customers on how easy it is to use and the transaction speed.”
Richard Blackburn-Hughes on incorporating an Android-based tablet to the Next Generation ETM
Richard continues: “Our Next Generation ETM also brings with it a significant upgrade in terms of performance. The processor is three-times faster than the current machine and has sixteen-times more memory. In terms of the user interface, speed of transactions will be much faster; it’s a much slicker user interface. And we’re using a newer card reader that will support faster contactless speeds.”
Ticketer has designed the driver tablet to be detachable from the rest of the ETM, allowing for use around and off the bus. This will further evolve Ticketer’s existing Vehicle Checklist module, as the tablet can be taken out of the driver’s cab and used for performing and reporting vehicle walk-around checks with the help of the tablet’s inbuilt camera.
Richard assured existing customers: “We’re offering a component upgrade path as opposed to having to replace the full ticket machine. Existing customers can opt to upgrade the screen for the tablet, the card reader and some new power work that comes within the machine. That gets them all the key benefits the new machine has without having to upgrade every single part of the ticket machine.”
The current machine has taken Ticketer through a lot of evolution already, Richard notes, in terms of adding different payment types, and expanding the software functionality. On Ticketer’s Next Generation ETM, Richard said: “We’re seeing this as a springboard for the next phase of the Ticketer roadmap; with new things that the increased processing power will enable in terms of software functionality. A good example is geofences, which we are evolving from simple circles with a defined radius into more customisable shapes which can be tailored accordingly to the specifics of the road network in that location.”
For current customers, the evolved Ticketer system will still feel familiar. The new system runs the same driver software as the current model, which means operators do not have to retrain drivers in its use. It also uses the same Ticketer back-office system that customers are used to, and the footprint of the device on the bus is the same as the current model.
Richard said: “The upgrade and install process is straightforward and seamless. And you can parallel run the new and old systems so you can phase the new machines in, which wouldn’t present any operational issues.”
“Given our market presence and share, we thought very hard about how we can make it an easy and straightforward path to upgrade and to get those performance benefits, while minimising the cost of that and making it easy from an operational perspective as well.”
With the roll out of the system on TfGM’s Bee Network, other customers will start to see the product introduced in the autumn ahead of a broader introduction next year. Richard highlights that using a tablet is part of Ticketer’s strategy to move towards using off-the-shelf hardware, which brings supply chain advantages and means it will be easier to evolve ETM components as new and improved options become available.
There will be a period where Ticketer continues to run both old and new machines. Richard said: “Given the significant performance upgrade that our new machine gives, our hope is we see the majority of our customer base upgrade in the next couple of years. We think the performance benefits they will see day-to-day should make it compelling to move on.”
As is the case with the current machines, the new devices and upgraded models come with a standard warranty and the company will continue to offer a repair service.
If you have Ticketer’s current ETMs in your fleet, expect Ticketer to be in touch about upgrading or feel free to approach them to discuss upgrade options.
Unlocking the future
The focus with the Next Generation ETM is to unlock more capabilities with ticketing technology in the future, thanks to its beefed-up processing ability. Richard said: “We have been adding functionality as part of our continuous enhancements that we provide to operators. We’ve got to the point now where we need to upgrade the underlying hardware to have that capacity for future development that we see as adding additional value to operators.”
“Our Next Generation ETM also brings with it a significant upgrade in terms of performance. The processor is three-times faster than the current machine and has sixteen-times more memory.“
Richard Blackburn-Hughes, Chief Commerical Officer
“We’re still developing our thoughts on where that can take us. Some of the ideas have been around utilising the detachability of the tablet and using it for other applications such as off-bus training or other workflows drivers have that could be digitised.”
A potential use for the system could be to integrate it with a demand responsive transport (DRT) provider’s system, with the Ticketer machine used as the driver console to operate the DRT service and assist the driver.
Richard concluded: “I am super excited about offering our Next Generation ETM to the market. For me it captures the essence of Ticketer – constantly improving, enabling cost effective and timely upgrades and providing a more powerful platform for future innovations.”