Navigating unpredictability: What 2022 holds for ticketing

2021 was another year affected by the pandemic. Transit was no exception. Indeed, the pandemic has made it harder to predict passenger behaviour, with traditional travelling patterns disrupted. How has this increased unpredictability shaped transit and the ticketing ecosystem? In the first of a series of three insights articles, Philippe Vappereau, CEO of Calypso Networks Association, explores this challenge and what it means for ticketing planners…

Today’s commuters demand flexibility more than ever, and planners need to accommodate it to maintain public transit’s attractiveness. For example, how can they easily change tariffs, embrace Mobility-as-a-Service, or provide smarter ticketing media for a joined-up ticketing experience? Responding to these trends will be high on the list for ticketing upgrade strategies over the coming year.

To help ticketing navigate this unpredictability and support increased flexibility, community-led open standards will play a key role. This will be a critical year for transit as the ticketing community considers how it supports a strong and sustainable ecosystem for planners and passengers.  

Familiar challenge, new pressures

In early 2020, public transport operators (PTOs) and authorities (PTAs) suddenly faced an unprecedented challenge: maintain services while implementing public health measures. They endured significantly reduced passenger footfall and ticketing revenue as a result. Today, the key challenge remains how to incentivise passengers back onto public transport and help restore sustainable public transport models.  

The past 12 months have seen many ‘temporary’ agile working arrangements become permanent. Daily commutes for many passengers are gone, replaced with new demands for greater flexibility when travelling, not just with transport modality, but also with fares, further increasing the pressure on network planners.

Responding to these challenges is critical to the long-term future of public transit, and with city regions increasingly attentive to environmental sustainability, immediate, effective action now could play a big part in achieving green goals.

2022 trends: flexibility, MaaS, touchless  

In 2022, PTOs and PTAs will prioritise how to enhance ticketing across three main areas: fare flexibility; Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS); and providing a smarter, contactless offering.

  1. Fare Flexibility

Passengers are demanding tariff structures that offer flexibility and value. Accommodating this in a sustainable way means many PTOs and PTAs are starting to revise their tariff structures beyond traditional weekly/season tickets to more flexible options, while enhancing their Pay-as-you-Go (PAYG) offer. Re-thinking tariffs in this way removes the pressure to predict passenger movements and can go a long way in incentivising passengers away from private vehicle use.

  1. MaaS

A big question for 2022 is how to support the first and last step of every passenger journey – fuelling the growth of MaaS. This is nudging PTOs and PTAs to increase their focus on offering a joined-up, seamless ticketing experience, accommodating the flexibility of MaaS and the multimodal offering it supports. Mobile ticketing (m-ticketing) will become a big driver of MaaS adoption, enabling multimodal ticketing from a device many people already carry with them everywhere. However, with cards remaining a key tool in the transit planner’s portfolio for the long term, ticketing smartcard solutions must also offer the same level of integration and convenience for passengers. By enabling this, transit networks can achieve MaaS for all.

  1. Smarter contactless solutions

Greater flexibility across transport modes, combined with continued efforts to enable more hygienic / socially distanced payments means more pressure to evolve smart contactless ticketing.

NFC technology will continue to be central to ticketing product innovations. M-ticketing with NFC will do the heavy lifting here as innovators continue to look at providing passengers with an enhanced ticketing experience and migrate beyond QR-codes, which represents a limited, short-term approach at best.