A last minute change due to Rob becoming the proud father of twins (congratulations, Rob!) meant that Andy Nash stood in at the September Transport Card Forum. Becotix were one of the key innovation speakers at this leading UK forum for ticketing and ticketing innovation.
The event was attended by a wide mix of interested parties including UK Authorities, transport operators and ticketing suppliers. With TCF this year being a Leeds based event, the first day focused heavily on the plans for Transport for the North. The Becotix trial is one of the main projects being followed in Transport for the North as a solution that has the potential to simplify and reduce the costs for ticketing in the north.
As part of the innovation session, Andy outlined Becotix’s new touchless ticketing solution, which is being trialled with WYCA and Transdev in January between Bradford and Keighley. It uses smart phones to track where and when a passenger has travelled and simple geo-location devices (initially beacons) to identify the key movement and billing points. The presentation created a lot of interest as it described a completely different alternative and cost model to the current ticketing solutions on the market. As a result, there were plenty of questions from the conference floor, leading to the longest Q&A session of the event.
The questions ranged from a technical nature through to operational queries and discussion of how the customer experience would work.
There was surprise at how little user involvement was required once the app had been downloaded and the account topped up. After that, all the passenger needs to do is touch the ride button, show the pass at the beginning of the journey and then simply travel. There is only a very small amount of logic on the phone to collect the journey information and then all the heavy lifting of fare calculation takes place in the back office.
There was also a challenge to the cost of deploying beacons, which are being used in the first trial. A member of the audience pointed out that, while there might be a beacon at each stop, with station TVMs costing between two to three thousand pounds plus the cost of connectivity, this would buy a lot of beacons and they would not require topping up or the same level of maintenance. It was also noted that the price of beacons has dropped dramatically and there are already small solar/light powered beacons available which will help to extend the life of the first generation beacons.
Operationally, the prospect of capturing true journey information and how this would help to improve route and capacity planning appealed to a number of people.
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We are also very grateful to Smartex for organising TCF 2016. Smartex run a number of transport related events and more details can be found here. Expect to see us at an event in 2017 with updates on the Keighley trial and where next to find a Becotix implementation.
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