Ticket machine interface design

Bletchleyite

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With typing being quite awkward on a touch screen, I wonder if a better option would be "press the first letter" then show a list of stations, or if there are too many to show then have buttons for ranges e.g. "AA-AF" and so on. I seem to recall it's how the Dutch one works.

With a touch screen the number of "taps" is not quite as critical as the intuitiveness and size of the buttons.

Even gov.uk (possibly the easiest-to-use website in the world) has moved this way - you go through more screens but each asks a clear and simple question.
 
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Wallsendmag

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I can't see much effort being put into TVM development as they have been largely replaced by online ticket sales, either web or app. When every penny has to be fought over a declining channel isn't the first priority.
 

py_megapixel

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As I mentioned on the other thread, a lot of effort seems to have been put in to make TVMs less intuitive, not more...

Actually, intuitive is the wrong word here. They're more intuitive, they're just arduous to use too. And that isn't just the journey planner cr*p that Northern and Chiltern seem to love - more conventional designs of interface have huge irritations too that really need to be resolved.

@Wallsendmag is correct though that TVM sales are a dying channel. I now use entirely pre-purchased tickets if I'm leaving from a station where there is no manned ticket office, largely because the TVMs are such a pain to use, but also because it's very convenient and quite nice for keeping track of what journeys I've made! I know many people who have done the same.
 

philthetube

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The option to type in your destination then see all available tickets can't be too difficult to do.
 

Bletchleyite

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@Wallsendmag is correct though that TVM sales are a dying channel. I now use entirely pre-purchased tickets if I'm leaving from a station where there is no manned ticket office, largely because the TVMs are such a pain to use, but also because it's very convenient and quite nice for keeping track of what journeys I've made! I know many people who have done the same.

They are unlikely to ever go away completely in my view, though we may end up in a situation where each station only has one or two.

One thing that may be worth looking at is making the UI identical to one of the mobile UIs. OK, that'll have an irritating journey planner, but it does provide familiarity, and save cost in that the UI is only being developed once.

I also find the "very large screen" format to be unhelpful as it's hard to "scan" the whole screen with your eyes from close-up. An iPad sized screen with the phone style UI zoomed to fit it is probably the best.
 

Haywain

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The option to type in your destination then see all available tickets can't be too difficult to do.
That depends if you want to buy Advance tickets which are now often available up to the time of departure. For that you'll need a journey planner - and journey planners offer the full range of tickets for the trains shown.
 

lkpridgeon

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They are unlikely to ever go away completely in my view, though we may end up in a situation where each station only has one or two.

One thing that may be worth looking at is making the UI identical to one of the mobile UIs. OK, that'll have an irritating journey planner, but it does provide familiarity, and save cost in that the UI is only being developed once.

I also find the "very large screen" format to be unhelpful as it's hard to "scan" the whole screen with your eyes from close-up. An iPad sized screen with the phone style UI zoomed to fit it is probably the best.
To be honest I'm surprised that none of them have done that yet (that I know of anyway). I don't know who makes the ticket machines South Western Railway use accross their network however they seem to be the most competent ones I've used recently (both the old and new variants).
 

Bletchleyite

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That depends if you want to buy Advance tickets which are now often available up to the time of departure. For that you'll need a journey planner - and journey planners offer the full range of tickets for the trains shown.

To be honest, the best thing to do there would be not to have Advances available at the station for immediate travel.

This whole issue is caused by the petty Northern-TPE spat over pennies. Advances only being available up to a few hours beforehand (so you are encouraged to buy before you go to the station or on your phone) is fine for IC journeys which is the only type of journey where it makes sense to have yield management of that type.

I'd venture that Merseyrail have got the fare structure for local journeys right (bar ignoring Railcards) - just Anytime Day Singles/Returns and off-peak day tickets valid after 0930. Genuinely simple.

To be honest I'm surprised that none of them have done that yet (that I know of anyway). I don't know who makes the ticket machines South Western Railway use accross their network however they seem to be the most competent ones I've used recently (both the old and new variants).

I think they use Scheidt & Bachmann.
 

35B

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To be honest, the best thing to do there would be not to have Advances available at the station for immediate travel.

This whole issue is caused by the petty Northern-TPE spat over pennies. Advances only being available up to a few hours beforehand (so you are encouraged to buy before you go to the station or on your phone) is fine for IC journeys which is the only type of journey where it makes sense to have yield management of that type.

I'd venture that Merseyrail have got the fare structure for local journeys right (bar ignoring Railcards) - just Anytime Day Singles/Returns and off-peak day tickets valid after 0930. Genuinely simple.



I think they use Scheidt & Bachmann.
Isn’t the root cause of the issue over on demand advances ultimately to do with the way that regulated fares have been allowed to get so far out of line with AP tickets that the operators have to bend AP rules to avoid being accused of fleecing customers?
 

Bletchleyite

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Isn’t the root cause of the issue over on demand advances ultimately to do with the way that regulated fares have been allowed to get so far out of line with AP tickets that the operators have to bend AP rules to avoid being accused of fleecing customers?

No, the root cause of the issue is that competition of that kind is purely negative and needs to be stopped.

Competition is of benefit where you have a considerably differentiated value proposition between the options, as that grows the market and encourages operators to improve to further that. For example, from London to Birmingham you can go really quick but expensive with Avanti, you can go mid-priced in comfort and in a reasonable time with Chiltern, or you can go dirt cheap crammed on a 350/2 with LNR for next to nothing.

There is no benefit whatsoever of TOC 1 charging 10p less than TOC 2 for what is basically the same offering (there's not really that much to choose between a 195 and a 185 to the average passenger), nor of having Advances that not only do that sort of silliness but also restrict people to specific trains on very short journeys. An interavailable walk-up ticket costing the higher of the two fares is what should be in place.

If that was the case, Northern would not need journey planners on their TVMs and most of the complexity would be avoided. Yes, there's IC operations that presently have compulsory reservations, but people will tend to book that in advance, not at a TVM, or if travelling walk-up can get the reservation from the booking office at the station where they change to the IC.
 
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35B

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No, the root cause of the issue is that competition of that kind is purely negative and needs to be stopped.

Competition is of benefit where you have a considerably differentiated value proposition between the options, as that grows the market and encourages operators to improve to further that. For example, from London to Birmingham you can go really quick but expensive with Avanti, you can go mid-priced in comfort and in a reasonable time with Chiltern, or you can go dirt cheap crammed on a 350/2 with LNR for next to nothing.

There is no benefit whatsoever of TOC 1 charging 10p less than TOC 2 for what is basically the same offering (there's not really that much to choose between a 195 and a 185 to the average passenger), nor of having Advances that not only do that sort of silliness but also restrict people to specific trains on very short journeys. An interavailable walk-up ticket costing the higher of the two fares is what should be in place.

If that was the case, Northern would not need journey planners on their TVMs and most of the complexity would be avoided. Yes, there's IC operations that presently have compulsory reservations, but people will tend to book that in advance, not at a TVM, or if travelling walk-up can get the reservation from the booking office at the station where they change to the IC.
I suggest that the negative competition you describe does need to go, ASAP. But the wider issue, not just in Northern/TPE competitive areas is the way that open tickets are so expensive that customers unable to get AP tickets feel fleeced because the gap between prices is so excessive.
 

Deerfold

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We have to have the journey planner as if you pick one of our trains you need a reservation

That's something that LNER implement poorly - they assume you're catching one of their trains, on both ticket machines and their website. I'm not catching many trains at the moment, but used to generally use the LNER website for all ticket sales. However, it would not let me buy available tickets if LNER tickets had not been released, even if I wasn't making a journey that could use LNER trains. At somewhere like Leeds, LNER provide a large proportion of the ticket machines, but not a large proportion of the trains.
 

Bletchleyite

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That's something that LNER implement poorly - they assume you're catching one of their trains, on both ticket machines and their website. I'm not catching many trains at the moment, but used to generally use the LNER website for all ticket sales. However, it would not let me but available tickets if LNER tickets had not been released, even if I wasn't making a journey that could use LNER trains. At somewhere like Leeds, LNER provide a large proportion of the ticket machines, but not a large proportion of the trains.

Even if you do want a planner, I think it's overcomplicated to go "full Trainline" - just showing the next 5 connections with the fare against them would work fine, perhaps also a toggle between "fastest" and "cheapest". Most people using TVMs want to travel immediately, so provided there's a button for the full interface if you're not 99% of people needn't see it.

Countries with compulsory reservations, e.g. Italy and France, have TVMs, and they are nowhere near that complex.
 

Mojo

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l suspect if company bosses and designers of such interfaces actually had to use these machines on a regular basis they would actually get it right as they would see how frustrating they are to use.
 

centraltrains

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I had a lecture in a Human Computer Interaction module last term where the Chiltern Railways ticket machines were specifically given as an example (& analysed) of poor design because of tickets from any station being nested under too many sub-menus :oops:

Personally, I'm hoping for a future with face recognition based ticket barriers & automatic billing.
 

Horizon22

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Ultimately all ticket machines on the network need a major rethink from a UI and UX perspective. Even users well versed in technology have challenges using them properly and opt for a ticket office instead of trying to buy tickets (picking up tickets less of an issue). Bit of a disgrace 20 years into the 21st century! Meanwhile ones in Europe I've been able to use with ease.
 

Wallsendmag

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Ultimately all ticket machines on the network need a major rethink from a UI and UX perspective. Even users well versed in technology have challenges using them properly and opt for a ticket office instead of trying to buy tickets (picking up tickets less of an issue). Bit of a disgrace 20 years into the 21st century! Meanwhile ones in Europe I've been able to use with ease.
To be honest I think they have a very limited life
 

Bletchleyite

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I imagine in a couple of years everything could end up being smartcards/contactless/e-tickets with the only machines at stations for dispensing/topping up smartcards or allowing e-tickets to be printed.

I think it will take much more than "a couple of years" for everyone to be happy purchasing tickets on their phone, and contactless for more expensive journeys will be a big issue for people who don't have much money and for children; it works well and is popular for things like TfL or local buses where the fare is such a low sum most people don't need to care or pay attention to precisely what it is. I would say that kind of situation is a 15-20 year phase-in. So that to me means at least one more, possibly two more, generations of TVM.
 

py_megapixel

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I think it will take much more than "a couple of years" for everyone to be happy purchasing tickets on their phone, and contactless for more expensive journeys will be a big issue for people who don't have much money and for children; it works well and is popular for things like TfL or local buses where the fare is such a low sum most people don't need to care or pay attention to precisely what it is. I would say that kind of situation is a 15-20 year phase-in. So that to me means at least one more, possibly two more, generations of TVM.
There's no reason though why TVMs operated by the likes of Northern couldn't just start issuing QR-code based E tickets, and just refuse to sell tickets for those few TOCs which still won't accept them. The chances of someone at a commuter station in the Leeds area needing a ticket for a Southeastern-set flow, for example, is tiny.
 

Bletchleyite

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There's no reason though why TVMs operated by the likes of Northern couldn't just start issuing QR-code based E tickets, and just refuse to sell tickets for those few TOCs which still won't accept them. The chances of someone at a commuter station in the Leeds area needing a ticket for a Southeastern-set flow, for example, is tiny.

True, but that doesn't really impact on the design of the user interface, it just makes the ticket printer a bit cheaper (and gates cheaper to maintain).
 
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I take it you've seen EMR's new TVM that issues eTickets on white paper?
Which stations have these or are they a demo product? If lockdown ever eases I'd love to have a look. I love e-tickets but always carry a printed copy as a safety net in addition to having the pdf on my phone and this would save me printing it before I get to the station.
 

Fylsie

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With typing being quite awkward on a touch screen, I wonder if a better option would be "press the first letter" then show a list of stations, or if there are too many to show then have buttons for ranges e.g. "AA-AF" and so on. I seem to recall it's how the Dutch one works.

With a touch screen the number of "taps" is not quite as critical as the intuitiveness and size of the buttons.

Even gov.uk (possibly the easiest-to-use website in the world) has moved this way - you go through more screens but each asks a clear and simple question.
Doesn't this go against everything you're against as it introduces the complexity you always go against?
 

Haywain

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Which stations have these or are they a demo product? If lockdown ever eases I'd love to have a look. I love e-tickets but always carry a printed copy as a safety net in addition to having the pdf on my phone and this would save me printing it before I get to the station.
I don’t think printing a pre-booked ticket is an option on the new machine. Come to that, nor is storing the machine purchased eTicket on a phone.
 

Cdd89

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I’d personally like to see TOD only machines that don’t offer purchasing. I’d further like to see QR codes standardised for TOD collection so a barcode can be shown in place of the CTR, it could then have the added verification token in the barcode obviating the need for payment card presentation.

But I expect that won’t happen as the progress will be toward broadening acceptance of e-tickets instead. I expect ticket machines to receive next to no development funds going forward and they will be increasingly left behind, if that’s the case emulating apps as described earlier might be the least bad option.
 

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