Mobile Phones: the Future for Bus Tickets?

By: Liam G

Mobile phone ticketing is not a new prospect, with companies within the theatre and train business already boasting such features. Until recently though, there was no such system in place for regular buses.

Go North East (GNE), one of the leading bus services in the north of England however, is in the process of implementing such technologies into their public transport service.

Under the new system, customers are able to send a text message and they will instantaneously receive a reply, which serves as their "digital ticket". This is then presented to the bus driver upon boarding.

Prior to this, all customers need to do is set up an account online and add funds. As targeting young people plays an important part of the new system, it is also possible to set up a family account facility.

Another important goal of the system is that people will favour the speed and simplicity buses now offer over driving themselves, thus helping the environment.

Security and forgery should not be a problem as each digital ticket is "locked" to the handset it was ordered from, making it impossible to "forward" the ticket to another handset.

The system has been made possible with the help of Atos Origin, an IT services company and Swiftpass, a mobile ticketing company.

The new system has been rolled out across a fleet of 600 plus buses. These buses make more than 73 million journeys a year spanning a network of 36 million miles.

The system is going to trial for one year, and if it proves successful then several extra features have been proposed. Notably, the inclusion of barcode scanners on buses to save the driver having to check the digital ticket and thus further speeding up the boarding process.

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