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Discussion in 'Fares Advice & Policy' started by thenorthern, 2 Oct 2017.
Thank you i think we've established that mobile phone is not a universal solution.
Oyster "works" for London and other metropolitan areas should have similar for the baulk of regular users. However there has to be a system in place for irregular/infrequent users that they can all access without any prejudice and at a national level this is where the current paperless dream falls over its over reliant on people using internet/smart phones/buying special cards and topping them up.
Why mention 2 minutes when 10 minutes is no guarantee that it will be enough time? When there is a long queue at the ticket office, the ticket office is effectively closed. But it is worse than the ticket office being closed because you aren't allowed on the train without a ticket. So, it is effectively the same as the station being closed.
If you have to allow a minimum of 10 minutes then that severely reduces the attractiveness of rail. If you are captive to rail then you have to make a special trip beforehand to buy the ticket to be sure of getting the train you want. For trips where the car is an option, they will just use that rather than getting to the station a long time before the train or making a special trip in advance.
In Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany or Switzerland, to name just a few, I know I can get whatever train I want without having to worry about queuing time.
Presumably when APTIS came in. Wikipedia says the APTIS ticket machine was first introduced in 1986.
It's a shame the forum didn't exist then as I'd love to read what people thought about the current tickets when they were first introduced.
Tickets on mobile phones don't have to be a universal solution for them to be useful. If you have 10 people who want to buy a ticket, and only 5 buy one with a phone or smart card, it halves the length of queue for a ticket machine or booking office for the other 5 people.
Expecting people to turn up 15 minutes before departure extends their journey time. If you can get a system where they can turn up 2 minutes before departure and still get a valid ticket, their journey is 13 minutes quicker. Getting a time saving like that with faster trains and high speed lines would cost a lot of money.
To be fair, although they looked different (strikingly modern infact) compared to the Edmondson ones, they weren't that much of a departure for passengers. One still bought them at the ticket office and presented them to the bloke manning the ticket barrier. You certainly didn't need an electronic device to use them, or to resort to the internet to buy them (which is handy because not many people had access to it).
Yes, I remember them coming in.
In the first case what percentage of passengers do you think that is?
In the second case, I suggest that if they had read the instructions when booking their ticket it wouldn't have happened, so therefore it is their own fault.
So you admit you want to complicate the system even more?
No, putting a surcharge on fulfilment isn’t complicating the system, and for the umpteenth time, simpler and more intuitive ways of fulfilling tickets will lead to a simpler and more intuitive system, not a more complicated one.
I’d wager most people have, in their lives, missed a train because they’ve needed to buy a ticket - particularly so in urban areas and the South East, where services are more frequent.
On the second point, if we’re writing off criticism of a fulfilment method as null due to user error, it seems fair game to point out that many of the objections to some paperless methods are down to user error too (letting your battery run flat if using a mobile, being the classic!).
Ultimately, if we were setting up the railways from scratch today, it’s unlikely we’d set the default, mainstream ticketing method to be one: where you have to add extra time before the journey to purchase it, where it requires considerable manpower and expense to deliver, where the tickets need marking by a different person to ensure they don’t get reused or refunded, which, if you lose, cannot be replaced simply due to their nature, which are easily damaged or defaced, etc etc (starting to repeat myself).
Instead of seeing the move to paperless as an assault on the sensibilities, the question is “well why on Earth in 2017 are most tickets still being given to people on paper and how do we switch to something better?”
And another one:
Why has no Open Access operator "gone it alone" and opted out of the national ticketing system?
Is it, perhaps, because it's easier to mount an ORCATS raid?
By what measure is the emerging mess of incompatible, operator-specific ticketing systems with varying delivery methods "simpler and more intuitive" than the current single system where any retailer can sell tickets for any journey, including through tickets involving multiple operators? A casual observer may reasonable conclude that it is actually the complete opposite.
That e-ticketing is being implemented very badly is not a fault with e-ticketing, it's a fault with the structure and approach of the industry.
That's like saying that trams are bad because of the botched project in Edinburgh, and completely ignoring the massively successful tramway systems like Manchester.
Because this is the UK with a hopelessly fragmented railway system. Generally, for inter urban or longer distance travel, TOCs will not accept paperless tickets bought from/issued by other TOCs, hence journeys involving more than one TOC have to be on paper.
I am confident that, if BR were still with us, a move to the majority of tickets being paperless would have happened by now - just as it has in The Netherlands and Sweden to name but two.
Sorry but sticking a surcharge onto something is a complication!
Really? I've been catching trains for more than 40 years and I've never done so, and I haven't always lived in Mid Wales.
I suggest you exaggerate!
But we aren't designing a new system, we are having to use the one we have.
By your own admission you are no longer involved in ticketing now, so perhaps you need to read Gareth's comments again, considering he currently runs a very successful and busy ticket office.
How is it more complicated than charging a surcharge for sending a paper ticket by first class post or recorded delivery? You pay less for a mode of delivery that's cheaper for the railway company. For e-tickets and m-tickets (implemented properly) this is the cost of a web service that generates PDF files, wallet passes etc. for download.
Hang on - let's get this straight.
ToD works like this: From the comfort of your home, you pay money for a train ticket. The money comes out of your account and you are emailed an arbitrary alphanumeric code. After a maximum of two hours (probably) you have to go to a station with a ticket machine (not every station has one, and if your nearest station with a TVM is forty miles away, tough luck) and insert a bank card (probably the card you paid with, but not always) and key in the alphanumeric code, which you'd better have written down or stored on your phone. After the machine spends a minute or so thinking, it will (probably) spit out some orange coupons, plus an extra collection receipt.
And by the way, you have to do this before you get on the train, otherwise you'll have to pay more money for another ticket and may be taken to court - regardless of the fact the railway already has your money for the original (nonexistent) ticket.
And perhaps your local station doesn't have a TVM (and if it doesn't it certainly won't have a ticke office)? Hard luck. You can either buy a ticket to the nearest station with TOD facilities and then write to the train company to claim the money back as a cheque sometime when their CS department can bother to get to it, or you can just buy all your tickets on the train… in which case, no good value Advance fares for you.
And you're trying to tell us that a nominal discount for an e-ticket, where the passenger bypasses this whole rigmarole - and can buy a ticket online even if there is no TVM at their local station - is somehow overcomplicating things?
The fact that current developments consist of badly designed, fragmented systems is a fault with those current developments.
What is like saying that?
No one is saying that the whole concept of electronic ticketing systems is automatically bad. This discussion is not about the abstract concept of electronic ticketing, this discussion is about the systems that are actually being implemented on the UK rail network.
It isn’t a complication at all. It’s very simple, like charging 5p for a carrier bag. That hasn’t made shopping more complicated. It’s made it simpler and socially and environmentally beneficial, by modifying consumer behaviour.
I really don’t. Come to Woking, for example, and observe the 20-30 deep queues and trains to London leaving. If I arrive at the station at 0800, and need to renew my season ticket (or buy another ticket), I’m generally missing two or three trains in the time it takes the system to sell me one. That’s the same for everyone in the queue.
You only have to look at the Disputes section to see how many people say “I was going to miss my train so instead of buying a ticket I just got on”. Missing trains because you’re stuck in a queue or the vending process is absolutely a daily occurrence. That’s why it makes sense for tickets to be retailed away from stations (wherever that may be!), and for the system to be changed to one where you don’t need a trained professional to sell you the right ticket between two small towns. That’s an indefensibly mad situation.
That’s not really true - there are lots of changes afoot which, slowly, are changing the system, like single leg pricing. That’s the kind of simplification that comes about once you start working with fulfilment solutions which come into their own when they’re dealing with a simpler fares structure.
Sorry, I’m not here to claim moral or technical superiority - but I do know my stuff when it comes to passenger demand, what passengers say about ticketing, and why paperless ticketing is essential for the railway to keep pace.
I can’t comment on Gareth’s experience because I don’t actually know what it is, other than he works in a (non-urban?) ticket office. I don’t know what experience he has in implementing paperless tickets or gathering customer feedback, because he hasn’t said.
This notwithstanding, I still note that most of the opposition to paperless tickets comes not from those with no irons in the fire, but from those who have a dog in the fight, so to speak.
But you don't have to buy a plastic bag, you take your own!
Therefore your comparison is not valid.
(Remember that we did it first in Wales!)
If a service is "turn up and ride" (say every 10 minutes) and you arrive at the station at random intervals (because it is supposed to be "turn up and ride"), and you queue up for five minutes each time, you will miss the first train you could have got half the time. Even if you only queue up for 2 minutes you have a 20% chance of missing the first available train.
And in the future - hopefully - you won’t have to buy a paper ticket either. You supply the method of fulfilment yourself. Same principle.
We really do seem to be going around in circles.
There is no need to get rid of a system that lets someone turn up and buy something from a member of staff or machine (let's be honest - ten years from now, it's going to be a machine). It's just that they won't get a paper ticket. They'll be asked to present their smartcard to load their ticket(s) on to. Maybe even asked for an email address or phone number to send a ticket to (or touch the phone against a reader to download).
If the person hasn't got a smartcard or phone, or watch or whatever, they'll be made to buy a smartcard there and then for nominal fee. Now they have a card for future travel and can keep it with the other loyalty cards, debit/credit cards, AA/RAC membership cards and so on. Really not hard or asking the world.
Anyone opting to store a ticket on their phone does not surely need phone coverage, even if within 10 years you should expect virtually 100% geographic coverage. 95% by 2020 and when 5G comes along, the number of new sites necessary will fill in the last of the gaps.
So all of these changes may not happen overnight, but will be part of a series of changes to get ready for the future.. a digital railway. And most people will be for it, not against.
Of course the industry needs to crack on with a lot of things to make it happen, namely the DfT working towards a single smartcard for all TOCs and possibly for other modes of transport. In effect, a British Rail - or National Rail - smartcard. You'd hope that all the TOC specific systems could be migrated to work accordingly. It's a matter of time and cost, not if it's actually physically possible. It was always possible, but the initial development has been, frankly, pathetic.
I think a number of posters are confusing inherent faults in the way the franchise system has been run resulting in poorer ticket buying facilities at stations with the need to move to a "new system".
For over 20 years winning franchise bids were based on who promised to consume the least subsidy/pay the highest premium. As the TOC's didn't have a magic private sector wand to wave and improve efficiency as the Major Government believed they've focused on things they can control and this has meant shoestring ticket buying facilities at stations. They have tried to keep manned booking offices, number of windows open, opening hours down /minimum amount of TVM's as cost cutting measures. In the meantime theirs been significant growth in usage and the stations facilities have not kept in line with usage hence the problems posters have outlined.
Ticket buying facilities at stations have been a victim of the failed finances of the post 1993 Railways Act railway. If there were sufficient open windows and TVM's the clamor for "paperless tcikets" would not be prevalent. It all comes back to the fact costs went up after privatization not down.
I do know lots of old people thanks and having ran multiple booking offices over the last 12 years I'm well aware of their needs however I am not wrong in my statement.
We also had ticket office queues under BR. It was worse because ticket machines could only sell tickets to a few destinations. If you needed any other destination, or you wanted a remote ticket, or wanted to buy a ticket for another day, or you wanted to pay by card, then you had to queue up. There were also fewer ticket machines available. Outside the SE, ticket machines were rare.
Of course, true e-ticketing is not exclusive of ticket offices.
If you have true e-ticketing, where the ticket is in a database, you can issue it on any medium you like. A bit of traditional orange card would work just as well as a mobile or a printed out sheet of A4. Indeed, if they went to making tickets named, you could have the advantage of, if you lose your piece of folded A4, it gets wet or your phone runs out of battery, being able to go to a ticket office or TVM with some ID and simply having it reprinted.
The possible advantages are immense.
Not to mention those for revenue protection - how about every "grip" (executed using a mobile device) containing precise location, precise time, train ID, who checked the ticket, seat occupied etc? Huge scope for prevention of fraud there. You could even have an automated batch job checking for re-use (use further back along the route than the previous use).
Corporate purchases could be handled easily enough - just require the name to be entered before the ticket is used.
Not saying everything was perfect but the degree of misalignment between demand and facilities is much worse now and has been driven by the franchise system/process. We've also had Network Rail refurbishments of stations where the ticket buying facilities are hidden in a corner to allows for retail at a number of larger stations - this has hardly helped either.
Following on from my earlier post regarding the demise of "split ticketing" if a (not so) smart card system is introduced, I suspect it would also see the end of "Return Tickets", and "Break of Journey", as, no doubt each time you tap out you will be charged for a single journey, which will result in a massive price hike, unless there is a significant reduction in the price of single fares, highly unlikely!
There was a significant price reduction for singles when Oyster was rolled out to National Rail.
Apart from Advance fares, long distance single fares on most TOCs are virtually unaffordable by almost all people paying out of their own pocket. So doubling return fares would lead to empty trains. Even without smartcards we should be looking at scrapping return fares.