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Keeping bus travel simple with traditional payment methods

30th November 2017

As the digital revolution rumbles on, public transport, and in particular bus companies are seeing a change. With the rise in smartphones and new technology, bus companies are feeling the pressure as they look to embrace digital. 

But, is this really the right move for operators, even with the influx of digital technology in every aspect of our lives?

Contactless card payments and smartphones mean that with the right technology passengers can now board a bus and pay with the swipe of a phone, or card. This appears to be more convenient, but in reality, there are numerous pitfalls to what appears to be ‘a better alternative to tickets’.

While digital ticketing can speed things up, cut queues and provide transparency in both price and the amount paid, it fails to acknowledge the core elements of bus travel.

A paper ticket provides a proof-of-purchase and is essentially a boarding pass if questioned later in your journey, something which isn’t as simple to prove on a smartphone.

Mobile e-ticketing relies on various factors to work successfully, including connectivity to the internet, something which may not be as easy in the countryside when network signal isn’t as strong. Battery charge in your device must be OK, and you need to have an e-ticket application that operates successfully. Without these factors working together in harmony, boarding a bus and purchasing a ticket might not be so easy.

E-ticketing also requires customers to share their bank account details with the ticketing app, which has to be kept up-to-date to travel, but here more problems arise, once details are shared with a third-party; the issue of security becomes apparent. Hacking, fraud and data theft all become a risk.

Though these new forms of payment aim to increase the number of commuters by offering a simple solution to boarding, it can also alienate those that have little access to smartphones or aren’t as technologically savvy.

For example, those on a reduced budget who want to see what they are spending by using cash, benefit from paper tickets, Young people who don’t have access to their own bank accounts may find it impossible to pay with a smartphone.

Issues with ‘smart card’ technology became apparent with Madeira-based bus operator Horários do Funchal. As tourists flocked to the region, the contactless system in place, though beneficial for some residents, was clearly unsuitable for tourists without having access to the appropriate App, or with limited data access on their phones.

The installation of an Able Systems Ap1310DC mini printer on its fleet of buses improved customer satisfaction levels and allowed tourists to travel without any issues.

As the digitisation of bus payments continues, companies must be considerate of broad areas of the market that rely on paper-ticketing to get from A to B, rather than wholly devoting to the potential of new custom, and neglecting loyal advocates of public transport.

More information about the thermal printers available from Able Systems that are compatible with weighing systems, including the Ap1300, Ap1400 and Ap1200, can be found on our website.