The role of ticketing technology in the rise of Mobility-as-a-Service

Mobility as a Service (MaaS) is a new mobility model that relies on digital platforms to integrate end-to-end trip planning, booking, electronic ticketing, and payment services across all modes of transportation in an urban setting. It is a marked departure from where most cities are today, but it is a concept that has captured the attention of the transport community and government alike. Rather than having to locate, book, and pay for each mode of transportation separately, MaaS schemes let users plan and book door-to-door trips using a single app or platform. It has the potential to eradicate dependence on private vehicles and deliver seamless mobility. Through MaaS, travellers could have access to an easy, flexible, reliable, price-worthy and seamless transit from A to B.

One of the world's first examples of a MaaS system is Hanover's Multimodal Mobility Shop: an integrated workflow that encompasses registration, routing, booking and billing for several transport modes in the city. For the past two years, residents in Helsinki have been able to use a single app, Whim, to plan and pay for all modes of public and private transportation within the city. Whim connects the travelling public with train, taxi, bus, carshare and bikeshare operators and allows them to either pay as they go or pre-pay for the service as part of a monthly mobility subscription.

Both Hanover and Helsinki's vision represent a revolution in mobility: a fundamental change in how we interact with public transport daily, and technology's role in altering people's preferences and habits. Nowhere else in the transport industry is this more evident than in the way people research and purchase tickets.

ITSO has been supporting the UK's transport industry for 18 years and is widely recognised as the national standard for public transport. We have therefore witnessed first-hand how the internet, mobile phones, digital applications and contactless bank cards have come together to forge new expectations and habits when it comes to ticketing.

How we pay for public transport is in the spotlight. The rail industry has launched a review of fares and ticketing, and Transport for London says contactless payments now account for around 50 per cent of transactions on its network. There are more than 20 million smartcards in circulation across rail, bus and tram networks, with ITSO enabled smartcards in use on 95% of the UK's bus network.

But smartcards will not support a fully integrated transport system. More and more people are switching to mobile wallets to pay for goods and services. According to data recently released by WorldPay, British consumers used their NFC-enabled mobile phones to spend nearly a billion pounds at checkout points last year, which was a 328% year-on-year rise compared to 2016. It's realistic, then, to predict that within five years, Britons will use mobile phones in place of smartcards or contactless bank cards, and this will also apply to the way we purchase transport.

The motivation behind passengers wanting to use mobile technology that makes tickets easier to buy and more difficult to lose is obvious. People want to purchase travel in the same way they purchase other daily goods and services; quickly, efficiently, on the go and in one place.

For the operator, a more streamlined process, fewer queues and a move away from having to deal with cash presents massive operational and cost benefits and enables them to meet the changing demands of their passengers.

We believe that mobile ticketing is a critical starting point in bridging the gap between where we are today, and a fully integrated MaaS system in UK cities. Only once there is a commonly accepted and widely used digital payment method, adaptable to all forms of public transport including and connecting bus, rail, car, taxi and bike, will operators be able to deliver mobility in a fully connected state.

But there is no one silver bullet. It's important to understand that people are fundamentally unique, have diverse preferences and adapt to new technologies at different rates. Not all will want to purchase a ticket by mobile phone now and not all trust mobile wallets. The future of mobile ticketing is bright, but it relies on a widespread and concerted effort by operators to adopt new smart technologies and demonstrate their benefits to their customers.

It is clear that the provision of smart transport services is a core function of strategic importance for cities and regions in the UK, as we grapple with ever-increasing urban congestion and a growing consciousness of our growing carbon footprint. Consequently, it has become more and more necessary for the government and operators to invest in the technology that will make integrated services a reality and meet the expectations of the tech-savvy consumer.