West Midlands’ smart success
20 June 2016 • Author(s): Chris Lane, Swift Commercial Specialist
Many public transport users in the West Midlands are now travelling smarter with a range of ticketing options thanks to Centro’s ‘Swift’ Card. As Swift Commercial Specialist, Chris Lane, explains, passengers no longer have to delve into their pockets to find the exact change to travel and in giving passengers effective and efficient smartcard ticketing products, patronage has increased and satisfaction improved.
For more than two decades West Midlands’ passengers had to rummage around in purses and pockets to find the exact change for bus fares, often paying more or asking others for change. Passengers criticised this ‘exact fare’ policy and non-bus users told us that not knowing the precise fare and the insistence on having the right change was a significant barrier. Further problems occurred on the Midland Metro tram system – conductors gave change but when several customers paid with £20 notes, all the change was quickly used. This was poor customer service and an added risk for conductors to carry so much cash.
We implemented Pay-As-You-Go on practically all buses and the Midland Metro and, whilst it is difficult to compete with cash, we’ve made it easy and convenient. Our products are available online 24/7, with new smartcards being delivered within 24 hours or provided immediately over the counter at our travel centres, as well as many convenience stores.
Passengers can choose to ‘auto top-up’ which means they never run out of money, or, if they want greater control, can buy online and collect at remote readers located at bus stops and stations or by simply using an NFC-enabled Android mobile phone.