The future of ticketing: ITSO?

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alistairlees

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We can't have just one solution.

I'd go with the technology solution, but accept some people want a more basic system that works better for turn up and go travel - as well as providing a fallback if my phone breaks, gets stolen etc.

I think we can agree that magstrip tickets are too limited these days. Barcodes allow for more flexibility and the option to have online or offline checks made (or they can just be accepted as is during a network outage).

Barcodes and smart tickets/phones will co-exist for some time.



At a station, you'd have the local gates remember the ticket and so all gates would reject it again if passed back.

The gates can then bundle tickets scanned together and upload periodically, and update a remote database in the cloud that gradually feeds this info out to other gatelines. In this way, you don't need to worry about latency and connectivity issues to try and validate a ticket in real time.

Yes, it would mean that a slow or failed update wouldn't mark the ticket as 'used' but that is the problem of the railway, not the customer, so in effect a proper failsafe.

You'd assume that the process could take place before the passenger has managed to get to another station. A check by a member of staff with a terminal/phone would need a real-time connection to check as I am not sure a phone would be set to store that amount of data (even though with compression and 4G/5G connectivity, I am sure any phone could easily store it and discard periodically) but there's not the same level of rush in that case anyway.

And if anyone hasn't seen the mobile tickets that 'rotate', they will change the data sent to include the current time/date, which has to match the reader (give or take a set time to allow for variances) so a screen capture won't work. That has caused me problems before when a bus had a ticket machine with the clock out by an hour. I was fortunately allowed travel even though it said my ticket had expired.



There aren't many places these days that have no connectivity (and as time goes on, 700 and 800MHz 4G and 5G coverage will help reach almost all of the UK landmass, not just populated areas).

If a station hasn't got any connectivity, it's perfectly possible for a fixed connection to be hooked up to an access point to allow staff wireless access. Chances are, you'd also offer a connection to the public too. If there are gates or TVMs there is already some sort of connectivity, and likewise to provide data to the CIS etc.

On a train, have the train manager or whoever scan a ticket and if it can't check within a certain timeframe, queue it for checking and move on. If the ticket comes back as rejected, you can return to the passenger. If all else fails, they get away with it - that time. It would be quite hard for someone to bank on problems so the fact a ticket is checked would likely put opportunists off.
No one is ‘worried’ about latency or connectivity to scan barcode tickets, as no connection is required to scan them. All the ticket data is in the barcode; and usage data (such as cancelled) has been made available to the scanning device.
 

crablab

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See you've been into our office at Peterborough ;).
Well, the combination of an RTV and desire for a Wherry Lines Ranger necessitated that ;)


PRT is going to very much move to the back up medium in the near future our plans are to have a variety of smart fulfilment methods available.
Excellent! I am pleased to hear that :)
 
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david1212

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Guess I've just discovered one of the advantages of digital issuance over PRT.

These PRTs are pretty huge to be honest (lots of wasted space). I've just been issued 3 for my journey. Like most young people, I don't carry a "wallet" as such. Some people have card attachments to the back of their phone, I carry a metal card holder that is the size of a standard ISO/IEC 7810 ID-1 card.

a) PRT takes up significantly more space than both a smartcard and the equivalent in magstripe tickets.
b) PRTs don't seem to have a good way to fold down to card size (I accept user error may be at fault, advice appreciated).
c) For those of us (increasing number) with minimal/no wallet, they are a bit of a pain to store compared to the traditionally shaped tickets.

I suppose @Bletchleyite would argue since it's just a lookout on an ID, you should be able to add it to your phone. To which I entirely agree, but in which case, why isn't there some guidance on this since I expect if I corrall Google Pay into displaying the Aztecs on the tickets, it's technically not a valid ticket and I still have to carry the PRTs anyway.

View attachment 84740
I hate these too. Are they really so much cheaper than a credit card size magstripe ticket ?
 

crablab

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I think very possibly, yes, given there is a very specific (and "unique") specification for the magstripe on those tickets.

I don't hate them. I think they could be better designed (save space, be card and fit in wallets) and there should be some option for me to have the ticket on my phone, regardless of where I buy it.
 

K.o.R

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I can't wait for a PRT barcode ticket to not print readably because ticket printers have such excellent quality. Though the 2d barcode formats supposedly have a LOT of redundancy built in.
 

Bletchleyite

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I suppose @Bletchleyite would argue since it's just a lookout on an ID, you should be able to add it to your phone. To which I entirely agree, but in which case, why isn't there some guidance on this since I expect if I corrall Google Pay into displaying the Aztecs on the tickets, it's technically not a valid ticket and I still have to carry the PRTs anyway.
I would agree that you should be able to take a picture of it and use that (or display the Aztec code in any other form you like). However, the railway being the railway...
 

alistairlees

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You can't take a picture of an airline ticket, because it is electronic and you can't see it.

I suspect you probably could take a picture of a barcoded boarding pass and use it if you really wanted, as it's the barcode that has value.
Let us know how you get on with a picture of a boarding pass.

On a more serious note, I don't see what all the problems are though. Users (of the GB rail network) can get buy tickets online, or at stations, easily, and are given the tickets in ways that work for them (on a phone, piece of paper or plastic card) and with the multitude of industry requirements (ticket flexibility / wide variety of products, interoperability with other networks, many varying entry / exit points, not always internet connectivity, wide variety of user needs / inclusiveness, etc.). Yes, we're in a transitional stage, but over time we'll settle down in to a few well-developed solutions that meet the myriad of edge cases, as well as the core cases.
 

Hadders

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Most recently when I flew, I added my tickets to Google Pay and presented that. So this is totally normal, actually. The railways are just behind...
On the contrary I regularly purchase rail tickets and add them to my Apple Wallet, so I don't see that he railway is necessarily behind.

If I went to an airport and purchased a ticket to travel there I'm pretty sure it would be issued as a printed ticket rather than an electronic ticket.
 

XAM2175

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If I went to an airport and purchased a ticket to travel there I'm pretty sure it would be issued as a printed ticket rather than an electronic ticket.
I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be, actually. All 290 member airlines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) completed the transition to 100% electronic ticketing on 1 June 2008, so the only by flying with very very small carriers will you have even the slightest chance of encountering a physical ticket nowadays.

You would, however, receive a printed "e-ticket itinerary" showing the details of your ticket, and if you later checked in for your flight at a staffed desk you'd be given a printed boarding pass - but the actual ticket wouldn't issued physically.
 

Hadders

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I'm fairly sure it wouldn't be, actually. All 290 member airlines of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) completed the transition to 100% electronic ticketing on 1 June 2008, so the only by flying with very very small carriers will you have even the slightest chance of encountering a physical ticket nowadays.

You would, however, receive a printed "e-ticket itinerary" showing the details of your ticket, and if you later checked in for your flight at a staffed desk you'd be given a printed boarding pass - but the actual ticket wouldn't issued physically.
It appears to me that the railway is moving in a similar direction. The 'authority' to travel (or ticket if you like) will be a barcode in most instances (it could also be a contactless card or smartcard like Oyster or ITSO in certain areas). How the barcode is presented doesn't matter, many people will choose to present it on a mobile phone. Others will prefer to print it out, and that's fine. If you purchase at a station it'll be issued on paper, probably orange resembling a ticket. For traditionalists it could even be printed on orange credit card sized stock!
 

Wallsendmag

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It appears to me that the railway is moving in a similar direction. The 'authority' to travel (or ticket if you like) will be a barcode in most instances (it could also be a contactless card or smartcard like Oyster or ITSO in certain areas). How the barcode is presented doesn't matter, many people will choose to present it on a mobile phone. Others will prefer to print it out, and that's fine. If you purchase at a station it'll be issued on paper, probably orange resembling a ticket. For traditionalists it could even be printed on orange credit card sized stock!
At the moment but we are very close to have tickets sent to mobile devices at stations and I do mean very close. In fact some operators may already be able to do that.
 

Bletchleyite

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At the moment but we are very close to have tickets sent to mobile devices at stations and I do mean very close. In fact some operators may already be able to do that.
Avanti West Coast already can and do. Though I'm kind-of unsure why you would; why not just buy it on the mobile device? The use-case seems limited to those who don't have any form of payment card but do have a modern smartphone, which outside of children under the age of 13 (I think that's the minimum age for a debit card these days?) is really quite niche.
 

island

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Avanti West Coast already can and do. Though I'm kind-of unsure why you would; why not just buy it on the mobile device? The use-case seems limited to those who don't have any form of payment card but do have a modern smartphone, which outside of children under the age of 13 (I think that's the minimum age for a debit card these days?) is really quite niche.
Metro Bank issues debit cards from age 11 :smile:
 

jon0844

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Starling now offers debit cards for as young as 6 I believe. Fully managed by a parent/guardian.

With free travel until 5, that pretty much covers everyone.
 

Kilopylae

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Avanti West Coast already can and do. Though I'm kind-of unsure why you would; why not just buy it on the mobile device? The use-case seems limited to those who don't have any form of payment card but do have a modern smartphone, which outside of children under the age of 13 (I think that's the minimum age for a debit card these days?) is really quite niche.
I don't know where you live, but even in 2020, most teenagers in Devon (for instance, it's where I can speak to) don't hold bank cards.

Not everyone likes to use apps or to buy their tickets online, a lot of people like the reassurance of buying a ticket from a person. Why should they be denied the advantages of eTickets?
Plus, when buying a complex set of tickets, it's often just easier to do it at an office. And that's without mentioning the benefits of face-to-face transactions in relation to the 'loneliness epidemic' among older folks.
 

Bletchleyite

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I don't know where you live, but even in 2020, most teenagers in Devon (for instance, it's where I can speak to) don't hold bank cards.
I live in Bletchley (MK) but grew up in the North West, and even in the 1990s teenagers generally got cash cards (which was all you could have back then) at age 13 which was when you could.
 

crablab

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one single current-account bank that issues payment cards only on a phone
Monzo technically does MDES (Mastercard Device Enrolment Service) issuance before you have a piece of plastic mailed to you. I believe Starling and Revolut do similar.

Looking further afield, Bunq will also only issue certain cards as MDES and charge you for the piece of plastic if you want it (Revolut used to do this, I'm not sure how it works for them now). N26 not sure about now.

indeed if the various banking agreements even allow that to happen.
Can only comment on Mastercard, but this is perfectly acceptable.
 

35B

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My kids (12 & 15) have bank cards. Neither of them have phone based access to their cards, neither had debit card functionality of any kind until they were past their 11th birthdays. While some providers may offer cards younger, they are the exception.
 

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