The Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) invited Andy Monshaw to give his views on the future of bus ticketing. In his first blog as Group CEO for Ticketer, Andy writes about the shift to contactless ticketing and the exciting road ahead for the deployment of new technologies.
In November 2017, I moved to London for my previous company with my wife and dog. We have been fortunate to live in many places, and one of the first adventures we always take is a trip on the local bus. My wife’s view is it is the only way to accomplish all the following: see the area and sights, engage with the culture, and get from point A to B. I did not realise then, that in just 3 years, I would be CEO of the leading bus ticketing and technology solution company in the UK.
The market needs in the bus industry have shifted radically in the last 9 months. One of those shifts is a massive move to contactless as there is an increasing aversion to circulate hard currency, and a need to minimise the direct engagement between passengers and drivers. At Ticketer, we’ve seen that the use of cash has fallen c15%. While many point to Covid as the primary reason for this, I don’t believe it is – actually, it’s logical, economical, and provides a wealth of information to the ecosystem of operators, drivers and passengers. It also requires a level of trust – this is one of the largest barriers that we face due to the current environment, and is also a cornerstone of Ticketer’s values and approach with customers.
The typical cash transactions on a bus present many challenges; increased dwell times as people sort the correct notes and change, cost, time and complexity of drivers handling cash (not to mention safety and detecting counterfeit), and the back-office time to count/re-count and reconcile. All of this creates operating expense overheads for operators – while everyone is trying to become leaner.
EMV, QR and Tap-On / Tap-Off will not only address many of the cash challenges, but also provides a wealth of data and information that can benefit operators, passengers and drivers. The aim of every operator I have talked to in my first 30 days is clear – providing the best end-to-end passenger journey experience and do so with the maximum operational efficiency. A movement away from cash has happened all around us, and with Covid, has simply accelerated a trend that was already progressing on bus. As the trust builds, and deployment of the technologies I mentioned roll out, the next phase of this journey (multi-operator, multi-modal, account-based fare optimisation) will be realised. What an exciting road ahead.