It’s amazing to think that it’s five and half years since we launched the Arriva m-ticket app in November 2009, becoming the first national bus company worldwide to pioneer such technology. Whilst there have been more than 20 Million journeys made on Arriva buses in that period, mobile ticketing is still a relatively new concept within transport, especially within buses, although in many ways it’s frustrating to still be using a visual display for manual recognition of the ticket, especially knowing that there have been technologies such as NFC available for many years, but unfortunately they’ve not been adopted widely to enable commercial market viability. Hopefully this will change within the next few years, with Beacon technology set to revolutionise the ticketing world, offering the potential for account based ticketing based on a ‘Be in, Be out’ concept. Mobile payments are also developing fast, with contactless EMV, NFC and ApplePay all expected to make our lives easier. That said, I don’t expect our buses to go cashless at any stage soon (if ever), and we must adopt a ‘horses for courses’ policy and present ticketing options for all of our customers, allowing them to choose what’s best for them.
It’s also been very pleasing to see the fantastic reception that our other app, the Arriva Bus App has had. Remember that this was only launched in some parts of the UK in summer 2014, and we’re fast approaching 600,000 downloads, which shows that our customers want up-to the minute information at their fingertips when they’re ‘on-the-go’. We’ve already been short-listed for some awards, and judging by the customer comments in the app stores, we’re setting the bar high for real-time information travel apps.
And let’s not forget the humble smartcard. Whilst perhaps lacking the flexibility that mobile has to offer, we should not forget that some people don’t have a smart mobile device, or simply don’t trust m-commerce, so having the cashless benefits of a smartcard, and the ability to re-use again and again is attractive to many, and in some areas, inter-operable tickets exist that enable passengers to use their tickets on multiple bus operators, and in some cases, different transport modes.
So what’s next? Increased integration between the two apps is a certainty, and in fact you can now select a ticket from the Arriva Bus App and jump straight through to the relevant screen within the m-ticket app, but a big area to tackle is to add ‘A to B’ fares, enabling the answer customers to see at a glance how much a single trip between two points would cost. With the recent launch of the Apple watch, there will be much focus on ‘wearables’ for transport ticketing, so watch this space