We know that equality of access is central in the ethos of public transport. But what role can transport play in mitigating today’s cost of living crisis?

Thousands of passengers benefited from the Great British Rail Sale earlier this year, and the government has just announced a £2 flat bus fare from January to March next year.  

Whichever mode of transport the flat fare creates a time-limited benefit for regular travellers, but there is also a bigger question for the transport industry to consider around equality of access to best available fares generally.

Historically, regular commuters have bought period passes in advance to benefit from a lower cost per journey, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. 

While this payment option does indeed decrease the price per journey, it is only available to those with the means to pay in advance. Passengers unable to buy period passes upfront will likely pay more for an equivalent number of regular journeys over a given timeframe.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Flowbird’s Sesame Account Based Ticketing system democratises access to best available fares through capping – and doesn’t rely on people paying upfront for a period pass.

Under a capped scheme, ‘pay as you go’ customer’s benefit equally from regular travel without needing to purchase travel passes upfront. So, for example, with Sesame from Flowbird, operators can set caps for a given number of journeys by day, week or month, and as soon as the threshold is reached, a fares cap is applied, enabling passengers to travel for the rest of the period without any additional payment. 

Critically, capping is also seamless from a user point of view. Whether it’s within a closed loop scheme or an open loop using Contactless bank cards or smart phones and devices, the cap is automatically applied by CloudFare ABT, Flowbird’s modular back office.

Sesame ABT works by passengers presenting their ticket (bank card/ mobile phone/ QR code) to an on-board validator, which confirms the right to travel. Thereafter, each validator ‘tap’ is logged over a day, week or month, with fares automatically calculated in the cloud and the appropriate cap applied once the journey threshold has been reached, reducing the cost of living.

Flowbird’s CloudFare ABT back office manages the entire ‘contactless and capped’ process, with operators able to set the cap level, manage their assets, and configure fares remotely. 

“This ensures that everyone making regular journeys enjoys equal access to the best available fares, nor just those with the means to pay for period passes in advance,” says Paul Rogers, Flowbird Sales & Marketing Director. “Not only does this help budgets go further at a time of stress in household finances, but it also takes away any complexity associated with navigating fares. Simply being able to ‘tap and go’ safely in the knowledge that fares are the best available – and will be capped at a certain threshold – is not only good news for consumers, it also helps operators increase ridership, collect data to improve services, and speed up passenger throughput.”

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