Our Ticketer team is fuelled by awesome individuals, some of whom you may chat to on a regular basis, and some who you may not. As we haven’t been able to get out and about to meet anyone in person for a while, we’re bringing our team to you (well virtually for now).
Over the coming months, we’ll be asking various Ticketer team members some questions about what they do at Ticketer, any changes and trends they’re seeing within the industry as well as getting the lowdown on exciting new features and products.
Our Electronic Ticket Machines (ETMs) are more than just an ETM. They are a crucial component of all our developments and as we type, we are in the process of launching our new Ticketer Handheld device. It’s an exciting time at Ticketer HQ as this Handheld comes with full contactless EMV capabilities and like all Ticketer solutions the data used on the handheld will be fully compliant with all open data requirements.
So, who better than our Group Head of Hardware, Nick Sutherland, to talk us through this, amongst lots of exciting other things.
1. Nick, firstly, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your role within Ticketer?
I joined Ticketer 18 months ago to take over the Head of Hardware role from much-loved founder Richard Guy on his retirement. I’m now Group Head of Hardware with teams in the UK and Finland. I’ve been working in the public transport industry for nearly 5 years, but my whole career has been with Tech businesses in hardware, software and product roles.
2. As Group Head of Hardware, how do you ensure that Ticketer brings the best value and products to our operators?
We constantly survey technology, suppliers and transport regulations to ensure that we make the best use of custom designs and supplier partnerships. We carefully select products that meet current and future needs of our customers with the best quality, reliability and value in mind. This means that we are continuously tracking performance in the field, and testing new components and products for our portfolio.
3. What have you been most proud of during your time at Ticketer?
We do a lot of work ‘under the hood’, refining products in the field and researching changes that won’t be seen for a while, and there is one project still in progress that I’m particularly proud of (this is the very first sneaky peek by the way!)
Our current UK ETM has serial interfaces for connection to on board-devices such as destination displays, but new products like automatic passenger counting cameras often require an Ethernet network connection as well.
We wanted to add this capability to our products in a way that could be retro-fitted to units already in the field to reduce the impact on operators and make the process as seamless as possible. After a lot of head scratching, we have redesigned the ‘cradle’ that the existing touch-screen computer is mounted to so that it now includes an Ethernet port. Replacing the current cradle with this updated unit is a simple operation that can be performed in 15 minutes and gives new functionality for our customers at great value, without having to purchase a whole new ETM.
4. Can you tell us what other exciting innovations you’re working on at the moment?
A big focus for us this year was the introduction of a Handheld Ticket Machine capable of contactless EMV transactions.
We decided to use the introduction of EMV as an opportunity to advance and improve on our existing Handheld solution. In order to bring these benefits to customers more quickly, we have selected an industry-leading portable device and made changes to make it into a Ticketer product that is suitable for our customers.
The new Ticketer Handheld is easier to carry with a brighter, larger display than the current unit. It has a barcode scanner and contactless EMV area at the front of the device where they can be easily accessed, both when carried in the hand or fixed to the dashboard with a flexible mounting arm.
We have worked with the supplier to add support for UK ITSO smartcards so we have touch-free support for concessionary passengers and all ITSO schemes as well as accepting barcodes and contactless bank cards – offering the same functionality as our standard fixed Ticket Machines. We will be adding protective cases and innovative charging and mounting options as we fully integrate the new handheld into our portfolio.
Another important project we have been working on is in response to the more rigorous cleaning regimes our products are living with due to Covid-19. So, we are updating the specification of new ETMs and will soon have a design for a transparent, protective front cover for existing units ready for operator input.
5. What do you think we could expect from ticketing, and Ticketer, next?
Just one of the many benefits we have seen since our acquisition of FARA is that we can leverage the experience and technology from our Nordic colleagues. One such example is in their extensive experience of automatic passenger counting which we are keen to capitalise on with the solution we introduced for manual passenger counting at the start of the pandemic. We see a great potential in the integration of the two.
In addition, I also now have responsibility for the on-bus and platform validators that are deployed in those regions and so we are keen to assess their suitability and viability for the UK
By the same token, we are taking the considerable knowledge the UK team has with contactless EMV to add this capability to our Nordic deployments. That’s the benefit of now being able to work more closely with our like-minded colleagues across the water who share the same passion for innovating within the industry..
We aim to ensure that Ticketer products are always ready to meet the challenges of our increasingly fast-moving world of public transport.
6. And finally, if you could take a long bus journey with anyone famous, who would it be and why?
As a resident of Cambridge, I am fascinated by our guided bus way and how this came to be favoured over a rail or tram system.
Many people thought it was an expensive waste of time, but I believe over 2.5 million trips were completed within a year of its launch.
I would love to take a trip with someone who has a vision for the next stage in public transport for smaller cities like Cambridge. Alternatively, if I could go back in time, I would take a ride in the Brazilian city of Curitiba with architect Jaime Lerner who is credited as the inventor of ‘bus rapid transit’.
* Jaime Lerner gave the stations a distinctive look by placing them in futuristic glass tubes. Photograph: Sharifulin Valery/ITAR-TASS Photo/Corbis