Electronic ticketing: the difference it makes

24 June 2005  •  Author(s): Tony Yeung, Chairman, Commission on Information Technology and Innovation, UITP

Electronic Ticketing (ET) systems have been implemented for years in major public transport networks, whether in Europe (London and Paris), in Asia (Hong Kong and Singapore) or in South America (Santiago de Chile) and many companies around the world intend to follow this path. But now that these systems have been implemented, can it be claimed that smartcards improve the efficiency and quality of the network? What are the benefits of ET for public transport authorities, operators and most importantly, passengers?

Local (and regional) authorities are nowadays faced with complex mobility issues. Their constituents expect them to find innovative, quick and affordable solutions to the massive problem of congestion, which has become a common situation in any city around the world. To this end, it appears that ET is a unique opportunity to achieve mobility in cities. ET systems are indeed the easiest way to create seamless journeys in public transport networks: passengers can hop on a bus, then take a local train or use the metro with the same ticket, but they can also change operator without even realising it. Transport authorities are then able to offer a unified fare media model, upgrading not only the efficiency but also the image of the transport network of their area of influence. In the same vein, they can introduce flexible and more complex tariffs, making a difference in fare prices for passengers travelling during peak hours or off peak hours, for instance. Citizens who are granted special rights, like students, elderly or disabled people, are also assured to benefit from a fare adapted to their situation.

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