Leading Flowbird's business in Australia
Justin Pounder, General Manager of Flowbird Australia, is based in the region’s Sydney Head Office.
Here, he talks about his background in the transport ticketing industry, his passion for building long-term customer relationships, and his expectations for transport ticketing technology in Australia in the coming years.
What career journey brought you to Flowbird?
With 25 years’ experience in engineering, operations and infrastructure projects, half of them in the transport ticketing space, I joined Flowbird’s Australian team six years ago. It’s been an exciting time, with Flowbird on a growth trajectory, and developing innovations in ticketing, payments and mobile apps.
Describe your current role
As General Manager for the APAC region, I am responsible for Flowbird’s business in Australia, managing our teams, which include operations, finance and business development.
The day-to-day of my role is to work closely with major customers in Sydney, Perth and Canberra to provide the best maintenance and support for their ticketing systems, so that uptime is maximised, and passenger service is consistent. On top of that, of course, we’re continually exploring and assessing future opportunities.
I am an active member of ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) Australia, working with industry colleagues to shape the future of transport fare collection.
Flowbird delivered Australia’s first Tag On, Tag Off solution in 2007. Our proprietary smartcard format provides Perth with SmartRider Tag On, Tag Off used across Transperth’s train, bus and ferry networks. It’s also Flowbird technology that provides the MyWay smartcard ticketing system used across Transport Canberra’s bus and light rail services.
In Perth, our journey continues at a pace, as we roll-out an upgrade to all SmartRider validators and ticket vending machines, and introduce an open payment system supported by our CloudFareⓇ back office and payment service. As the system’s service and maintenance contractor, this involves having a dedicated field service, maintenance and project team based in Perth.
What’s Flowbird’s history in Australia?
Flowbird has been a leading transport ticketing technical supplier in Australia for over 40 years. Starting out in Perth and Canberra in the 1980’s we have an established and valued relationship with transport authorities in four of Australia’s major cities. Our UK Transport Managing Director, David Thompson established our Australian team in 2009 and was based here until 2021.
As a long term partner to transport authorities, we were instrumental in establishing magnetic stripe ticketing, then supporting the transition to contactless systems.
We’ve also been behind extensive programs in Melbourne and Sydney, with over 10,000 of our bus driver consoles deployed across New South Wales and Western Australia.
In Sydney, our infrastructure is visible across the network, with 6,000 of our driver consoles on buses, and over 300 ticket vending machines at train, light rail and ferry stations. These support the issuance of disposable single trip Opal cards and enable users to top-up smartcards.
We are proud to play such a big part in Australia’s transport ticketing heritage and it’s testament to the quality of our solutions that we’re going strong after four decades.
We also have a huge presence in on-street parking solutions across the country. With a unique perspective over the mobility landscape, we expect to be here for decades to come, supporting cities to bring EV infrastructure up to speed and deliver Mobility-as-a-Service.
What are the highlights of your career so far at Flowbird?
We’ve worked hard to put in place a team with the expertise needed to work alongside our customers and supply partners, and develop mutually beneficial relationships. With a great bunch of people on board, we’ve been successful in developing existing contracts and onboarding key elements of our business that were previously subcontracted.
Ultimately, we all share a common goal to provide an excellent passenger experience, with seamless ticketing and payments that enable residents, commuters and visitors to move around cities effortlessly. It’s really rewarding when we achieve this, especially when that simple experience is the result of handling lots of complexity behind the scenes.
One of the most technically challenging projects was the integration of multiple transport modes into a ticketing scheme in Perth. It was a real highlight to get this project completed, as it had many technical integrations and dependencies.
Where is the transit ticketing and payments landscape headed in your region?
Many transport authorities want to complete their roll outs of open loop ticketing. As is the case generally around the world, there is high public and political expectation for contactless and mobile payments to be available on public transport. This reduces the need for passengers to understand complex fares and gives them confidence they will always be charged the best available fare for their journeys.
Within the next five years, we’ll see further simplification of ticketing, with mobile and contactless payments continuing to grow in popularity. We’ll see more people accessing transport with a smartphone or wearable, rather than with a physical ticket.
Undoubtedly, mobile apps will continue to expand, with MaaS apps enabling greater integration of transport and mobility services. Flowbird already has MaaS solutions to offer to our existing customers and the wider transport industry.
What are the challenges authorities face when modernising transport ticketing systems?
As with most complex transport schemes around the world, authorities face a range of policy, funding and procurement challenges. One of our most important jobs is to clearly understand their requirements, then develop solutions that deliver against the specification, with security and compliance to rules for mass transit all taken care of.
Flowbird is a global business with expertise in hardware, software, ticketing and payments and mobile. This means we can leverage strong resources in development, project planning and execution, and draw on the experience of working with thousands of cities around the world.
What is ‘coming soon’ in the region, powered by Flowbird?
For the SmartRider Perth upgrade project, passengers can expect to use their bank card to tap and travel across the network very soon. Open payments will be deployed with our certified payments solution and our ticketing back office CloudFare®.
What do you enjoy most about working in the transport industry?
What I really enjoy is seeing how the hard work of my team directly affects the experience that our customers deliver to their passengers. It’s great to be working on important projects that have a far reaching societal, economic and environmental impact.
Get in touch with Justin to discuss transport ticketing and payments in Australia.