Can operators match the pace of the smart ticketing revolution? – PwC survey

Published at 11:01 AM on 11 March 2016

  • 91% of London travellers now use smart ticketing technologies – up from 41% in 2014
  • Only 20% of travellers outside London use smart ticketing despite 43% now indicating a preference for digital options
  • Low regional usage suggests customers outside London have limited access to smart products

Demand for smart ticketing options for public transport journeys is at an unprecedented high, to the extent that, for the first time, more UK consumers prefer to use technology (46%) over paper tickets (34%), according to a new PwC report.

With the public increasingly using new payment channels - from contactless bank cards to Apple and Android payment systems - PwC’s Smarter Moves report suggests a tipping point has been reached in customers’ expectations. If these are now followed through with greater availability of such services, smart ticketing could quickly become the default means by which customers buy and use their tickets.

The report highlights that smart ticket usage has already reached 91% in London.

However, with only 20% of people outside of London regularly using smart products, there is a risk that operators are not keeping pace with consumer demands, as PwC partner and transport specialist, Grant Klein, explains:

“With rapid growth in disruptive factors such as contactless bank cards and wearable technology over the last 12 months, there is a real sense of change among customers using public transport services across the UK. They expect these new technologies to be used for all their bus and rail journeys, and for this to be joined up to take away some of the hassle factor of ticketing.

“It’s clear that smart technology has the potential not only to support increased public transport use but to reduce operator costs, particularly where there is greater collaboration and sharing of services among public transport organisations. This is particularly true outside of London where integrated ticketing requires joining up between city authorities, train operators and bus companies.”

PwC’s annual study, which examines the potential for smart ticketing to provide better and more accessible public transport services and support increased public transport travel, also shows that:

· 22% of young people have a preference for mobile devices as their means of accessing public transport.

· 43% of customers are keen to use smart ticketing in the regions – a significant increase from 25% in 2013.

· Of those using paper tickets, while nearly half (48%) would switch to smart if it meant a 10% discount– a 5% discount would convert one in four, up from only one in seven in 2013.

· 33% would use smart ticketing if they were guaranteed the lowest possible fare for their trip.

· Offering loyalty points to exchange for future journey discounts would entice 27% of travellers surveyed to use smart ticketing.

The report outlines the benefits of contactless payment and smart technologies especially for those customers wanting to use public transport in cities they are visiting for work or leisure. The key attraction is that customers would not need to get to grips with a new card for each city – they can simply turn up and use local services with a card or phone they already have.

And, according to the authors, the potential for customers to access information, payment and travel from a smart mobile device makes it an exciting time in designing user platforms that are not only highly responsive and cost efficient but have the potential to provide valued extras such as automatic compensation claims where services are delayed or cancelled or loyalty benefits.

Grant Klein, PwC partner and transport specialist, added:

“The good news is that there are already signs that transport services outside of London are starting to move towards smart – more rail season ticket holders commuting into London are now converting to smart cards.

“In addition, the big bus operators have announced plans to investigate using contactless bank cards across their bus fleets and Transport for the North is developing its plans for smart ticketing across the north of England.

“Making smart ticketing work outside of the capital requires greater collaboration among those providing the services. This collaboration can be accelerated through joint funding of new initiatives so that objectives are shared and customers end up with a service that is easy to use across modes and across the country.”


To view the Smarter Moves report, click here.

About the survey

PwC commissioned a survey of 2,000 UK adults during October 2015.



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