Scott James
Stephenson's of Essex
  • Transport Ticketing
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Transparency on fare pricing for bus services

Sunday 19 May 2019

Transparency on fare pricing

There is a new emphasis on open data in the passenger transport industry, designed to revolutionise access and usage of the country’s network.  A major issue in this arena is bus fares. One of the major barriers to the public’s occasional and spontaneous use of local buses is the complex system of fares that exists across the many operators up and down the country.  A recent Guardian article revealed that there are now over a million individual fares available to bus users, creating a jungle that makes it almost impossible for the occasional user to get an understanding of best value. The government addressed this in the 2017 Bus Services Act which demands that service information is available to the travelling public.

While Londoners benefit from a flat fare system and hopper fares that allow an hour’s travel and free transfer between services, the issue is most pronounced outside the capital where competing operators vie for market share and seek to promote frequent usage through the sale of discounted weekly and monthly passes. These are not always suitable for part-time workers or people who require greater flexibility in their travel requirements.  Although a number of tentative multi-operator schemes are now running, such as Surrey’s Acorn pass and Swift in the West Midlands, the expansion of such schemes is often hindered by issues around revenue sharing and the practical challenges of understanding patterns of usage.

Rise’s technology offers direct solutions to these issues.  We have recently developed an online fare calculator which allows the public to view the price of single and return tickets from fare stage to fare stage, peak and off-peak.  Using this, the public can proceed with confidence in their journey and can compare value with other weekly or monthly offerings from the operator.

Rise has another tried and tested means of encouraging ad hoc use of local bus services. The multi-trip m-ticket, purchased for display on a mobile phone screen, is available from many of our operators through an account-based model.  Passengers pay up front for 10 or 12 trips, often with a small discount applied, and simply activate an hour’s validity as and when required. This product has proved increasingly popular with our operators and is a top seller with many. It is part of a suite of services, provided by Rise, that is helping to transform the digital presence of local operators and allow them to serve a diverse customer-base in ways that make taking the bus easier and stress-free.

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