Oxford Bus installs Ticketer Tap Off Readers for 70% faster boarding

Oxford Bus has successfully rolled out Tap On / Tap Off Readers across their fleet of buses. Passengers now have an even smoother experience with contactless payments, get best value fares and can get on board quicker.

Icon - The challenge

The Challenge

Oxford Bus had been using Ticketer Electronic Ticket Machines (ETMs) for five years but needed a new solution to help speed up boarding and build back customer numbers following the Covid-19 pandemic. With changing customer habits including flexible working and the move away from season tickets, Oxford Bus needed to keep customers happy with best value tickets and a flexible solution to encourage passengers to travel more frequently.

Icon - The outcome

The Outcome

The Ticketer Team worked with Oxford Bus, part of the Go Ahead Group, to deploy over 260 Tap Off Readers to their High Wycombe (Carousel Buses), Didcot (Thames Travel) and Oxford (Oxford Bus Company) depots. It has opened up frictionless travel to with one simple tap out using a contactless card or phone.

Oxford Bus have had 700,000 taps across all services to date and the use of Tap On / Tap Off is still growing. Boarding times per customer have sped up from 7 seconds to 2 seconds, with a 70% reduction in overall boarding times.

Background Information

As part of the Go Ahead Group, Oxford Bus have been using Ticketer’s Electronic Ticket Machines (ETMs) since 2017. With 260 vehicles and around 700 employees, Oxford Bus are the biggest bus operator in Oxfordshire. In the wake of the pandemic and the subsequent rise of flexible working, both passenger requests and sales data showed that ticket carnets provide a useful alternative to season and period tickets. These tickets still require purchasing in advance on a smartcard or mobile app, so it was key to find a solution that allowed passengers to pay by bank card or contactless EMV device with no prior registration.

Customer research showed that passengers wanted flexible, great value ticket options delivered in a simple to use way. With changing customer travel patterns and the need to increase the number of customers travelling, Oxford Bus were looking for a solution to help them listen to feedback, plus gain operational benefits of speedier boarding and uncover big data insights to make services more efficient.

“There’s no need for anxiety from passengers about getting into a long discussion with the driver. Our Tap On / Tap Off, contactless payment system has daily caps, where the system calculates all the fares in the background."

Luke Marion, Managing Director at Oxford Bus Company

Our approach

The Ticketer Team worked with Oxford Bus to deploy Tap Off Readers to all 260 of their buses, to work alongside their existing Ticketer ETMs.

Since installation, passengers simply need to tap their payment card on the reader when boarding to tap in, and again when exiting the bus to tap out. The passenger’s tap out transaction can either be made on the ETM, or on the secondary pole-mounted Tap Off Reader paired to a Ticketer ETM. The Tap Off Reader improves passenger flow by allowing passengers to tap out remotely from the cab-mounted ETM. The external reader can be used for both tap on and tap off transactions, removing the need for driver interaction and making boarding and disembarking much more efficient.

Passengers can take the benefits of tapping on and tapping off, Account Based Ticketing, with this neat piece of kit which is all integrated with the system. Data is readily available to inform business decisions.

To bring this to life for customers Oxford Bus branded this as ‘freeflow’, promoting that it’s ‘quicker, easier’ and when ‘you tap, we cap’. Daily caps mean that passengers can just tap on when they board the bus, tap off when the leave the bus – the system calculates all the fares in the background. There’s no need for them to ask the driver for a ticket or tell them where they’re going.

“Ticketer have been great at bringing in new and innovative ways to help us make bus travel easier for passengers and get them back on the bus after the pandemic.”

Luke Marion, Managing Director at Oxford Bus Company

WHAT THIS MEANS FOR OXFORD BUS COMPANY

GETTING VALUABLE DATA

Oxford Bus chose the Ticketer Tap On / Tap Off Readers as all their buses are fitted with Ticketer ETMs, so everything is fully integrated with equipment from one supplier. They can see where passengers are tapping in, but also where they’re tapping off, to look at travel patterns and busy points, allowing them to use data to optimise the bus network.

REDUCED BOARDING TIMES

Oxford Bus have found that passengers are able to get on the bus much quicker, helping reduce unnecessary dwell time at bus stops. With up to 70% reduction in boarding times, speeding up from 7 seconds to 2 seconds boarding time per customer the Tap On / Tap Off Readers are helping services run more smoothly for both passengers and drivers.

BEST VALUE FOR PASSENGERS

With Oxford Bus’ fare capping, the customer doesn’t need to choose what ticket they buy – they simply tap on and tap off, and at the end of the day the system works out their best value fare for the journeys they have made. With Account Based Ticketing, essentially the customer only pays for the travel they do. A better customer experience with quicker journeys and the knowledge that they can travel flexibly and have paid only what they need to.

BETTER PASSENGER INFORMATION

The data from passenger transactions is being used for a fully branded and customised customer web portal, as well as an integration into Oxford Bus Company’s existing customer app. This allows passengers to view their transactions, including where they’ve boarded and alighted, how much they’ve paid, and where caps have been applied.

Some of the things we have won

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

Transport Ticketing

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

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

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

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

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

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