Passenger Transport Feature: Opening Up a World of Opportunity

20 April 2023

We recently met with Passenger Transport to talk all things technology and innovation and about how we’re no longer just an Electronic Ticket Machine supplier.

You can read the feature below, or visit Passenger Transport for the full article.


Ticketer’s Chief Commercial Officer, Richard Blackburn-Hughes and Group Chief Product and Technology Officer, Andreea Reardon, chatted with Passenger Transport about how Ticketer is well known for its ticketing solutions, but it’s now expanding with new technology to benefit operators.

Ticketer has become a market leader in ticketing technology over the last decade and the company is a trusted partner for many bus operators. Its state-of-the-art cloud-based ticketing platform now supports millions of passenger journeys every day.

“Working closely with our customers is what Ticketer is all about,” says Andreea Reardon, Ticketer’s Chief Product and Technology Officer. “We had the mindset that we wanted to think differently about ticketing and although we have grown and evolved over the years since we began, our products are still centred around bus operator and passenger needs.”

Richard Blackburn-Hughes, the company’s Chief Commercial Officer, believes that Ticketer benefitted from the clean sheet approach adopted in 2009. He continues: “We started with a single product and that product has been continuously improving. It has been getting better and better over time and it’s thanks to talking and listening to operators that we’ve been able to do that.”

Key to that process is that the cloud-based platform has been continually upgraded and enhanced with new features and functionality, many of which were developed as a result of operator requests. That close partnership with operators across the country is now leading Ticketer to move beyond ticketing and offer new solutions that continue to meet the needs of bus operators. They also promise to offer a step-change in how they approach their businesses.

Harnessing the power of data

Richard Blackburn-Hughes, Group Business Development DirectorBus operators are increasingly becoming more data-driven, but Richard believes that many are only just starting to scratch the surface. He feels that data, and creating insights based on that data, can be instrumental in driving a revolution that creates improvements for operators and passengers alike.

However, with the sheer volume of data created by the average bus operator, it can be challenging for many to extract meaningful insights. Richard believes that their new solution, the Ticketer Insights Hub, will change that by providing them with access to their data quickly and easily. It will also help operators to make informed decisions about improvements or changes by interrogating historical data and travel patterns.

“The essence of it is that operators have a phenomenal amount of data,” adds Andreea. “While traditionally we helped operators access their data through reports, we saw an opportunity to not only expand that reporting but to also add value for operators.”

The fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic means that bus companies now more than ever need to focus on their businesses and operations. As Andreea notes, that means they may not have the resources available to dig into their data. “What we are trying to do is take a step back and make it easier for them to extract insights about their business,” she says.

The approach taken with the Ticketer Insights Hub very much follows the Ticketer ethos – the initial package covers everything from performance to revenue, occupancy and passenger data. There will also be continuous upgrades and enhancements to the reporting tools available.

“We want this to be a self-service tool,” explains Andreea. “So you can develop insights based on your own specific needs; you don’t need to be a data scientist to use the Insights Hub.”

“What we are trying to do is take a step back and make it easier for operators to extract insights about their business.”

Group Chief Product and Technology Officer, Andreea Reardon.

Getting onboard the Smart Gateway

There have been huge leaps in on-bus technology in recent years, but an increasing issue is the overlap between the disparate technologies that can be found on the average bus.

Ticketer’s sister company FARA has worked for some years tackling this issue in the Nordics, but Richard reveals the Ticketer team could see there was real value for UK operators too. It revolves around the concept of the ‘Connected Bus’, an ecosystem for the connectivity of different on-bus technologies. At its centre is the Ticketer Smart Gateway.

“The premise is simple: it’s about consolidating the different technologies on the bus, many of which have had their own evolutionary paths, and attempting to reduce overlap,” he says. “Where technologies are working effectively, their capabilities can be expanded to improve other on-bus systems – it’s almost a ‘plug and play’ approach to connecting technologies.”

This not only reduces the amount of kit on board the bus, but it also eliminates the need for multiple SIM cards. It also offers opportunities to reduce fuel and energy consumption.

“We see two potential opportunities from Smart Gateway,” says Andreea. “Firstly to enrich and enhance our tracking and AVL capabilities by bringing a more powerful piece of hardware that can offer more precise GPS tracking. Secondly, we identified a need to consolidate what was happening on the bus with all of the different systems, in particular each system working in a silo with its own separate communications system.”

Ticketer believed these silos were ripe for consolidation by utilising a single vehicle communication gateway. Andreea continues: “You don’t need to have all those different pieces of hardware driven by their own communications system – they can all connect to one hub.”

The big advantage for operators is bringing those systems together with the Smart Gateway, which is a single access point for on-bus systems that can provide operators with a single view of vehicle performance. Information can also be cross-referenced between systems to create new data-driven insights.

“This could eventually be about marrying up stills from the CCTV system with ticketing data for fraud prevention purposes,” adds Richard. “Or it could be about using engine idling data to investigate bus stop dwell time. The data that each system generates can be shared between the ecosystem and that adds value.”

“Where technologies are working effectively, their capabilities can be expanded to improve other on-bus systems.”
Chief Commercial Officer, Richard Blackburn-Hughes.

Making ticketing easy with Tap Off Readers

Giving operators the chance to introduce Account Based Ticketing has been a key focus for Ticketer and its development team over the last couple of years.

“We have always seen London-style capping as the ultimate goal,” explains Andreea. “That’s rather complex to achieve outside the capital where operators more often than not have graduated fares rather than a single flat fare. The passenger simply tapping their card when they board the bus is not enough and it can be quite complex to introduce when you have routes with different fare stages.”

It has led Ticketer to work with operators to introduce Tap Off Readers that allow passengers to benefit from capped fares when paying by contactless EMV. When boarding the bus passengers simply tap their card on the ticket machine’s contactless touchpad. Then when they reach their destination they tap their card on a second pole-mounted reader, which can also be used for tap-on transactions. This reader is carefully placed to improve passenger flow by allowing passengers to tap out remotely from the cab-mounted ETM.

There are several advantages for operators implementing such a system – passengers no longer need to understand what type of ticket they need; they simply tap on with their payment card when they board the bus and tap off when they leave it. They do that knowing they will only be charged the very best fare for their journey.

The operator’s ticketing system then consolidates the transactions the passenger has made that day and, if they have made enough journeys, caps the payment to the appropriate day, weekly or even monthly ticket price. While passengers benefit from knowing they will only ever be charged the best value ticket, operators also benefit from the valuable flow of data they receive on the actual travel habits of the passenger.

“There’s a lot of value in knowing where exactly a passenger gets on and off the bus,” adds Andreea. “You can delve into the passenger behaviour, find out when and where they are using the service and that information can then be fed into areas like the scheduling system or allow operators to validate they’re matching the right vehicle to the right routes.”

Building on functionality

Richard believes 2023 is a big year for Ticketer with these new developments. “We’ve been investing and working very hard behind the scenes,” he says. “We see huge potential about where we can take our products and the next few years will see us building out the functionality.”

Despite that focus, Andreea believes Ticketer will continue to do what it does best. “Ticketer is not just an ETM supplier. We stand by our commitment to continue bringing new technology and innovation to the industry,” she adds. “We have always worked very closely with our customers and that will continue.”

Some of the things we have won


Received 'Most Innovative Public Transport Technology 2022' award, by the UK Transport Awards.

Winners of the 2022 Euro Bus Expo Innovation Challenge Bronze Award.

Winners of the 'RSOCO Silver Award for Contribution to Safer Driving' 2022

Profit Track 100 2021

Ranked in The Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100, acknowledging the impressive performance and contributions of the featured companies to the economy and society during the pandemic

Transport Ticketing

Winner of the Transport Ticketing Awards 2021 'Digital Champion' Category

Ticketer Award Megabuyte

Listed as 3rd in the Megabuyte Emerging Stars Awards which recognise the top 25 best-performing scale-up Companies of the Year in the UK, for industry-specific software

Ones to Watch award

Named as “One to Watch” in the European Business Awards

Ticketer Award Thames Valley

Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year & High Growth Business of the Year

Gold Winner of the Coach and Bus Innovation Challenge 2019 for our passenger app Kazoot

Read more on our press page

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