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Nottingham City and touché announce beacon ticketing trial in Nottingham

Nottingham City Transport (NCT) and Touché-NFC Ltd (touché) have announced an exciting ticketing trial in Nottingham, designed to test the feasibility of a mobile phone solution that detects when and where passengers board and alight buses.

NCT introduced mobile ticketing just under 2 years ago and now over 50,000 individual registered customers are paying for bus travel on their mobile phone, with single tickets and day ticket products the most popular.

The objective of this trial is to find a way of recording point to point journeys automatically, which are the most challenging journeys to capture as traditionally only customer boarding information is captured. To capture boarding and alighting stops, beacons have been installed on buses and at stops and will detect where a customer is as they travel by bus through use of an Android based app. Recording this information will assist NCT with future network planning and customers could see their fares automatically calculated and deducted from their bank accounts, saving them the hassle of carrying cash and having to decide which ticket to buy in advance.

The project is taking place on the Green 11 bus route run by NCT, which runs from the City through The Meadows to Trent Boulevard and Lady Bay. The route has been chosen because it has a good mixture of customers purchasing different tickets and making short and long journeys.

Nottingham City Transport has partnered with Touché, which is a specialist technology business, based in Nottingham and Bristol, which develops interactive mobile solutions, especially in the transport and parking sectors. It was previously awarded a grant by the Department for Transport (DfT) to carry out a “Future Ticketing” Project – testing the use of smartphones in combination with Bluetooth Smart beacons and the touché locate back office. The project took place in Bristol.

The Bristol and Nottingham projects are also supported by ITSO, the organisation which is responsible for developing and maintaining the Specification used to develop smart ticketing schemes in the UK. The Bristol funding supported a Passenger Behavioural Study by the University of the West of England, which highlighted a number of valuable points about how bus travellers view mobile ticketing - touché wanted to ensure the solution would be appealing to use as well as technologically robust.

Steve Wakeland, CEO, ITSO, says, “As ticketing technologies advance, we are keen to support those that co-exist with traditional smart ticketing services. As Guardians of the Specification for the Department of Transport, our role is to keep the smart ticketing platform up to date and fit for purpose – it needs to be easily adaptable to meet new technology requirements. Therefore, ITSO is delighted to be supporting NCT and touché in their quest to find a way to track passenger journeys and therefore ultimately enable NCT to optimise its routes and fare options and improve passenger experience across the network. We will support and facilitate a consensus that develops consistency in the use of beacons in associated smart ticketing schemes across the industry”.

Another important part of the project is to collect data on bus journeys, to enable more detailed planning of routes and services. It is planned for the trial to run until the end of January 2019.

Customers who travel on Green 11 and have an Android device, who would like to participate in the trial can register their interest at www.nctx.co.uk/trial

About Nottingham City Transport

Nottingham City Transport is the City’s biggest transport provider, carrying 50 million customers per annum on a fleet of 320 buses. www.nctx.co.uk

About touché

touché (www.touche-nfc.com) offers a range of interactive mobile solutions, including:

The accompanying photograph shows left, Glenn Needham, Director at Touché and Anthony Carver-Smith, NCT Marketing Manager