Mobile ticketing is an efficient way to solve the problems many transit agencies are facing today: it can decrease operating costs, improve line-speed throughput, even reduce physical waste. It’s a technology that has been implemented in many cities across the globe with varying success, but one thing stands out – even if available, mobile ticketing is still not being adopted fully.
The world is going mobile – with 3.5 billion smartphone users (as of 2020), it won’t be an overstatement to say that anyone who’s not online and on their mobile will soon be forced to join in the revolution. More and more services are becoming part of a person’s smartphone experience, from entertainment to paying utilities. The majority of people’s smartphone usage occurs in their free time (early mornings and late evenings), and on their daily commute. And it’s no surprise, as this is a time one has to fill with something meaningful.
So, with smartphones already in people’s hands, and with municipalities moving towards mobile ticketing, why is this convenient solution often neglected?
What prevents people from using mobile ticketing?
A mix of factors leads to people preferring traditional ticketing systems over mobile ones. Let’s take a look at the most common ones.
Not everyone owns a smartphone
One of the biggest problems in front of mobile ticketing integrations is providing a universal solution everyone has access to. Low-income individuals pose a great challenge when it comes to the first step of the integration – the assumption that everyone has a smartphone on them all the time. This means that other ticketing options should also be available at all times so that everyone has access to the public transportation network – a combined approach including both digital and analogue solutions such as paper tickets or magstripe cards.
Another problem is posed by people who have a smartphone but don’t have a bank account. Account-based ticketing provides a solution for this and a very elegant one – people can top up their subscription or buy tickets with cash at any 3rd party retail location (convenience stores, coffee shops, etc.) where this service is available. These fares are then immediately available within the app or even on their smart travel card if they use one.
Not everyone who owns a smartphone has a mobile data package activated
There are people who simply prefer to stay off-grid but who also need a way to access public transit. While these people may not be opposing mobile ticketing per se, they might be difficult to convert into regular users of the technology. Specific options that are not dependent on constant connectivity might be the solution in their case.
Many people oppose using their mobile phones to make payments (no matter the technology involved) due to lack of confidence in the security protocols used. This is a legitimate concern and should be addressed accordingly – using latest security protocols and the best possible encryption is a must when developing a mobile ticketing app, or working with technology that allows for mobile payments.
Glitchy & slow websites/apps
It’s frustrating when you’re in a hurry and the app you rely on to get your ticket is slow or glitchy. This may result in delays or even fines. As was observed in Mumbai, India, this can lead to large-scale problems with unissued tickets. It is imperative to deploy products that have been rigorously tested and perform great under any circumstances, even when connectivity is compromised.
Bad user experience
Apart from slow and glitchy websites and apps, bad UX can also be blamed for people refusing to use mobile ticketing. If the information is presented in a confusing manner and people spend a lot of time wondering what they need to do or how much they will pay, they will simply resort to other available options (even if they’re more expensive).
What can help people use mobile ticketing?
According to a study in Helsinki, a few factors can help people transition to mobile ticketing more easily.
- Prior experience with a mobile ticketing service (for example, when travelling abroad)
- Compatibility of mobile ticketing with the individual’s existing use of smartphones: people who already use their smartphones to make payments are more likely to adopt mobile ticketing
- Benefits of using mobile ticketing (such as cheaper rides, additional services, bonus programs)
- Social influence: peer recommendations, even working with influencers, can help people adopt mobile ticketing more readily
Smart solutions are on the rise, and with people in a constant hurry, it’s a matter of time before global adoption of smart ticketing products becomes a reality.
In the meantime, municipalities that have chosen to deploy mobile ticketing should focus on providing timely and easy-to-understand information that will help people transition more quickly and easily.
Communicating not only the obvious benefits of the system, but also addressing people’s pain points, is crucial for the success of any mobile ticketing project.