With Thales’ TRANSCITY™, passengers need only one ticket for the full ride – no matter how many modes of transport they use
High-quality public transport is the lifeblood of cities. But how do you encourage more people to use it? And how can journeys be made easier – particularly ones that involve more than one mode of transport? Carlotta Lorin, Customer Engagement & Marketing Manager at Thales’ Revenue Collection Systems, explains how Thales’ TRANSCITY™ platform is helping to boost ridership and transform the passenger experience.
Can you tell us what TRANSCITY™ does?
Put simply, it’s our platform for processing ticketing transactions. TRANSCITY™ integrates different modes of mobility and different transport operators on the same digital platform. Revenue is automatically shared between operators, and passengers only need to carry a single media. It offers nearly limitless scalability – from a single city to an entire country. TRANSCITY™ is the foundation of card-centric and account-based fare collection systems, and it is a core component of Mobility as a Service or MaaS.
How does it help passengers?
A big stumbling block in a lot of cities and regions is that travellers need to buy different tickets for each mode of transport they use. For example, if your journey involves taking a bus, a metro train and a tram, you’ll need to buy three tickets. You also have to know how and where to pay. This is a huge inconvenience and it deters people from using public transport.
TRANSCITY™ solves this problem. Instead of having to buy different tickets for each mode of transport, you only need one. This can be a card – such as a classic contactless smart card or EMV bank card – or it can be a smartphone app. All of this makes life much easier for travellers. And best of all, it gives people the freedom to use all the modes of transport in the city – not just the ones they’re familiar with – without having to worry about buying lots of different tickets. You just take your card, you tap and you go.
What does this mean from the operator’s point of view?
One of the most important features of TRANSCITY™ is that it enables clearing and settlement – in other words, it makes sure that fare revenue is split accurately between all the different transport operators, no matter how complex the mobility ecosystem is or how many operators there are. Revenue splitting rules can be customised easily using the TRANSCITY™ platform. Payment for operators is quick – settlement can be set to take place once a day.
How do you build a mobility ecosystem?
In practical terms, building a mobility ecosystem starts by bringing together operators and stakeholders to agree a common set of rules for revenue apportionment. This can be complex, so we support customers with workshops to explain the best ways to manage everything. As an example, we were recently in discussions with a customer about making the transition to account-based ticketing or ABT. So as well as providing technology, we play an advisory role. This is a differentiator for Thales – we helped to create the world’s first nationwide multimodal ticketing programmes and we have worked with operators to build mobility ecosystems in every global region – in Europe, Asia Pacific, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas.
Public transport plays an increasingly important part in promoting social inclusion. Can TRANSCITY™ help?
Yes – and we are already working with customers to achieve this. One of the basic features of the platform is the ability to define anonymised customer profiles – for example, child, adult, elderly people, unemployed people or key workers. In fact, there is no limit to the number of profiles you can define in an account-based platform. This makes it possible to design fare products that meet real needs, and then to ensure those products are precisely targeted. This makes TRANSCITY™ the perfect platform for delivering public policy initiatives.
How easy is it to change fare rules?
Very easy. Once the new fare product has been agreed by the stakeholders, all the operator needs to do is to log in to TRANSCITY™’s configuration page, define the use case, save the details, then synchronise all the fare collection devices and validators. This process is remarkably quick – you can have new fare rules in operation the next day – and in some cases, on the same day.
Can you add new fare media to an existing ticketing system?
Yes. For example, customers with classic smart card systems can upgrade to accept EMV bank cards and QR codes. This is achieved through hardware and software upgrades – and in the case of EMV, this involves integrating banking security as well. But from a passenger point of view, there is little or no disruption.
Mobility as a Service – MaaS – is an increasingly hot topic. Can TRANSCITY™ help with this?
Absolutely. Thales has been building multi-operator systems with revenue splitting for more than 20 years. MaaS takes this a step further – it’s about adding ride sharing, e-mobility and non-motorised “soft” modes of transport, such as bicycles, to a single mobility ecosystem. The payment is the same as with public transport – it’s all done with one card or app. TRANSCITY™ can be used to create the core of a MaaS ecosystem, or to support independent MaaS initiatives.
What’s next for ticketing?
One of the things we are working on at the moment is hands-free ticketing. The beauty with this is that the traveller doesn’t need to touch anything. As you enter the station, you are detected automatically and the gates open in front of you. All you need is a smartphone or wireless device. This has real benefits for passengers and operators. It reduces congestion, improves passenger flows and makes journeys much easier – especially for people using wheelchairs, carrying luggage or pushing buggies. Hands-free ticketing is a perfect example of how technological innovation can make public transport more attractive and accessible for all of us.
Easy revenue sharing: revenue distribution between participating operators is continuously calculated. The frequency of settlement depends entirely on the accounting rules of the scheme. The settlement can be set to take place once a day, for instance.