Take 5… Transport authority benefits of Account Based Ticketing

Solving integration challenges to make the passenger experience seamless

Transport authorities have a pivotal role to play in making regions and cities sustainable by encouraging more of us onto public transport. It’s a complex challenge, and success depends on making transport systems easier, safer and faster to use, so that leaving private cars behind becomes a viable option.  

Multi-operator, multimodal schemes with account-based ticketing (ABT) can move transport authorities towards this ideal. They are scalable, flexible and cost-effective building blocks for integrated transport networks, and Mobility-as-a-Service.

Lothian Buses implemented a TapTapCap scheme using ABT and open payments

Five transport authority benefits of ABT

1. Joining up regions and cities

Transport authorities aim to create cities and regions that benefit people, economies and the environment. This demands a simplified, convenient experience of public transport that encourages modal shift from private vehicles to more sustainable mobility modes. 

ABT can be an enabler, by providing a cloud-based environment for multi-operator, multimodal schemes, which can integrate open loop and closed loop systems. An ABT back office processes both prepay and postpay transactions, automatically applies any capping rules, and works out the best value fare. 

It’s easy to ‘tap to travel’, with no consideration for what operator you use or operator boundary you cross. This seamless experience reduces queuing and congestion, speeds up boarding times, and improves schedule adherence. The knock-on effect is to incentivise new riders to use the system and existing riders to travel more frequently. 

2. Inclusive, accessible and transparent

Public transport needs to be inclusive and accessible. ABT systems help authorities cater for all demographics and user bases by facilitating multiple payment types – including smartcards and EMV bank cards or mobile wallets – and travel products. 

Importantly, ABT democratises access to best available fares through fare capping. Rather than asking people to pay upfront for a period pass in order to enjoy savings, capping promises the best value fare for journeys taken on a pay-as-you-go basis. 

The system can also accommodate concessionary fares by linking a card-ID to an external server that can validate eligibility for a concession – for example, proof of student or senior status. The unbanked don’t get left behind either; they can be brought into the system through cash digitisation (converting cash into an m-ticket for example), smartcards or white label EMV cards. 

3. Flexible, scalable and multimodal

The benefits of ABT are multiplied in a multi-operator, multimodal environment. Here, ABT presents scalable, network-wide functionality, making it easier to centralise sales channels, update systems, add new features and apportion revenue.

Real-life use cases: In Edinburgh, an Account Based Ticketing system developed by Flowbird for Lothian Buses, using the CloudFare® back office, will soon include Edinburgh Trams, providing an integrated, city-wide ABT solution. In Northern Ireland, Flowbird is rolling out a nationwide ABT system that will evolve to include Ulsterbus, Glider BRT, Metro buses and rail services.

4. Data for a better future of transport

As well as being highly secure, transactions in an ABT system are trackable. This enables authorities to monitor sales channel and travel product performance and identify if any adjustments are needed to enhance both passenger value and operator revenue. 

A wealth of data sheds light on how passengers use networks and how they prefer to pay. The ability to monitor network usage in granular detail can sharpen service planning, improve product assessments and optimise fares structure, to continually benefit passenger service.

The collection of data in real-time also facilitates transparent passenger communications. Customers may be provided with an app or web portal to monitor their travel and payment history and can opt-in to receive helpful push notifications. 

5. A foundation for Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS)

One transport authority in the UK has a target for 50% of all journeys to be made by public transport, on foot or by bike, by 2040. This ambition requires another level of joined-up transport experience – and ABT can be the glue that helps deliver it. 

Working in tandem with a MaaS app, ABT can enable single sign-on access to public and private transport and shared mobility, with combined payments for multimodal journeys. 

Did you know? Flowbird’s white label MaaS app offers an out-of-the-box solution that can be customised for a local authority. It can be extended to include a marketplace of associated services, such as events and attractions ticketing, to boost the local economy.

Find out more about Flowbird’s Account Based Ticketing solution.


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