Benefits of mobile application-based ticketing for PTOs

Urban Mobility

Mobile apps can be enhanced to enable Smart Urban Mobility solutions which can add to convenience of commuters and reduce overall cost for smart cities in their transportation needs

Public transportation is gaining more emphasis and support thanks largely to a change in the preferences of commuters. They are slowly moving away from using personal vehicles and are opting for public transportation instead. While the participation in public transport increases it brings along some issues. Time taken to book tickets, longer waiting times, slower boarding time and hassle of paying cash, all make for a wearing travel experience.

With the advent of mobile ticketing, experts believe that the aforementioned concerns would be minimized and in turn benefit the Public Transport Operators (PTOs) immensely. Mobile apps can be enhanced to enable Smart Urban Mobility solutions which can add to convenience of commuters and reduce overall cost for smart cities in their transportation needs. Here are some benefits:

  • Reduced Boarding Time: One of the biggest advantages of mobile application-based ticketing is lower boarding time – commuters gain by saving lot on time and experience reduced stress levels. An experiment conducted by First Bus, UK’s leading operator, has shown some fascinating results – Boarding 50 customers took 10.5 minutes while boarding 50 customer who booked through mobile-ticketing took only 2.5 minutes – a little above 75% reduction in time.

  • Reduction in Cash-handling procedures: Cash-handling is a major expenses issue as far as transportation is concerned, the costs associated with handling cash is surprisingly high. The overall cash-handling business, which includes cost spent on people, counting and transporting of cash is an estimated £ 18 billion in the UK. Mobile ticketing ensures a huge reduction in the costs associated with handling cash, a benefit, every PTO looks forward to.

  • Faster Time-to-Market: Another advantage of mobile ticketing is a faster time-to-market. All that is required is for users to download the mobile ticketing app in stark contrast to, let’s say, travel smart cards that need more time and efforts to be made available for use. PTOs also save on administrative and other overheads that come with non-mobile ticketing mediums.

  • Better Customer Service: By helping customers save on time and reducing the stress levels associated with commuting, mobile ticketing helps PTOs provide a much better customer service. This leads to customer delight and retention which lead to additional revenues and growth.

Benefits for PTOs in working with ISVs

The commuting and transportation world in interesting and has several stakeholders. It is a value chain that is a combination of different transportation operators with different operational models. Commuters these days prefer multi-modal transportation that can even include the participation of private operators. Partnering with Independent Software Vendors or ISVs makes business sense for PTOs looking to embrace mobile ticketing solutions. Here’s how:

  • Reduced Operational Complexity: Setting up and handling the mobile ticketing system will require the PTO to dedicate much more in terms of resources, time and costs to ensure efficient operations. There are one too many areas to focus on to ensure a seamless and smooth mobile ticketing operation process and this will have an adverse impact on the core areas of PTO operations. Going with an ISV reduces the burden on PTO to maintain and run the IT infrastructure required for providing mobile ticketing solution. The operational complexity is taken over by the ISV while the PTO can concentrate its resources on core functional areas.

  • Robust Software Solution: A good idea is not enough; it needs to be backed by a strong and quality product. ISVs with their experience and market knowledge can help create a robust mobile application that will achieve its end objectives. ISVs use product development approaches such as Agile, Scrum and other latest methods to ensure the development of a well-rounded and quality mobile ticketing solution.

  • Integrating Multi-modals: In the days when multi-modal transportation has become the norm integrating mobile ticketing solution of one PTO with that of another is essential to bring out a comprehensive mobile ticketing solution. ISVs can help with the back-end integration of various transit apps to ensure a seamless ticket booking solutions for customers. The other advantage is that ISVs can help integrate various services associated with the ticketing solution such as – offers, discounts, trip planning, loyalty rewards and payments. This ensures the development of a comprehensive mobile ticketing solution.

  • Quick time-to-market: Perhaps the biggest advantage of going with an ISV is a quicker time-to-market of the mobile ticketing platform or application. An ISV with its dedicated resources can build the required application, tweak and roll out to customers in a much quicker time frame purely due to its experience in creating such products.

Challenges faced by ISVs

While we have talked about the benefits for and of going with ISVs in creating and running mobile-based ticketing solutions, there are some challenges faced by these vendors:

  • Complex development requirements: The primary challenge for an ISV is to first understand functionalities of the ticketing app and then define a framework to comprehensively develop one. The mobile world is indeed complex with people using different devices running on different operating systems. ISVs might need to build multiple native versions to support Android and iOS apps. Or they can go for cross-platform technologies like Xamarin, PhoneGap or ReactJS.

  • Third-party Integration: Another challenge is in the form of third-party integration, PTOs have to collaborate with different agencies and entities to provide customers with a full-fledged ticketing service. ISVs need to watch out for legacy tools and applications belonging to third-party vendors or agencies before they come up with a solution to integrate these tools and applications. In certain cases, ISVs will first have to help PTOs move away from their own legacy tools and build fresh tools that are compatible with mobile ticketing solutions. Upgrading tools and systems can also result in higher downtimes and slower time-to-market situations. Having API based approach to integrated with third parties backend operational and ticketing system can help. API middleware like WSO2, MuleSoft can help in creating the glue. Sasken have used Hyperledger based Blockchain to create multi-model ticketing solution across multiple PTOs and agencies.

  • Hardware or Device complexities: Since ISVs are pure play vendors of software and detached from the hardware aspects, they have a growing challenge in the form of device complexities. With growing consumer demand and hectic competition, device manufacturers are constantly upgrading their hardware and ISVs need to be able to build ticketing software or solutions that are compatible with the latest mobile and hand-held devices.

  • Growing Security concerns: With increasing mobile penetration, the threat landscape has only grown and become a bigger cause for concern. Add to this, the sophisticated methods used by cyber criminals and hackers – security threats have just become intensified. ISVs will need to build robust ticketing applications that are secure and safe for customers to use. The teams from ISVs need to constantly monitor the security landscape to check for threats and counter them if possible. What makes it even more worse is that the smartphones through which commuters use mobile ticketing solutions are susceptible to hacks and ISVs have no access to watch over this.

In today’s world where the demand for convenience and comfort is high, mobile-based ticketing solutions are the need of the hour. These solutions help create efficient operations for PTOs while providing a great business opportunity for ISVs and of course, some challenges too. All said and done, mobile-based ticketing solutions are here to stay as they bring about combined benefits for PTOs, ISVs and commuters.

Authored by Amit Tyagi, AVP, Global delivery & Mohammed Gayaz Ali Asghar, Assistant Manager, Digital Transformation Practice, Sasken Technologies