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17.11.2021

Guest article: My experiences with the FAIRTIQ app

This blogpost was written by Reto Stalder of Finanzdepot. You can view the original German version here. We have reproduced the blogpost in English with their permission as we think that it provides an interesting perspective on one season ticket holders' experience of using FAIRTIQ as they return to using public transport following Covid. FAIRTIQ’s additional commentary is in italics.


[Last updated: 16 October 2021]

I was a longstanding GA Travelcard (Season Ticket) holder . This meant that I hadn’t bought a public transport ticket in Switzerland for years, so I was unable to help anyone at the bus or tram stop who asked me what ticket they needed. Then the coronavirus came along and all my travelling stopped. From one day to the next, working from home became the norm. I had no use for my GA anymore, so I cancelled it. I haven’t bought a ticket since, at least not from a ticket machine. I switched to the FAIRTIQ ticketing app instead. When I realised that few people I know had heard about it, I decided to write a blogpost detailing my experiences with FAIRTIQ so far.

FAIRTIQ – the simplest public transport ticket

This phrase is emblazoned across the FAIRTIQ website, and it's true. After downloading the app, you create an account and activate the necessary authorisations (location access). All you need to enter are your personal details and your preferred means of payment. If you have a Swiss Half Fare Travelcard, for example, you can also load it onto the FAIRTIQ app. The easiest way to do this is with your SwissPass. It means that the app always knows which season tickets and travel cards you currently hold and whether they are valid or not. FAIRTIQ automatically takes these discounts into account when calculating the fares you will be charged for your journeys.

So far, so boring. But the good thing is that you only have to go through this procedure once. Now, let’s talk about how to use it. Before you board whatever means of transport you choose on the transport network, you open the app and simply swipe the slider from left to right to check in. Once you have reached your destination, you swipe the slider from right to left to check out. That’s all you have to do. You don’t even have to take your smartphone out of your pocket when transferring from one vehicle to the next.

You can also check in and check out on your Apple Watch.

Studying zone maps, queuing at the ticket machine, selecting which route to take, deciding what stop you have to change at and entering your final destination are a thing of the past thanks to FAIRTIQ. Not only that but FAIRTIQ always charges you the lowest possible fare for your journey.


How FAIRTIQ works


Let's take an example:

A short hop ticket in Zurich costs CHF 2.30 with a Half-Fare Travelcard and is valid for 30 minutes. If you travel back via the same route 30 minutes later, you would have to buy another short hop ticket from the ticket machine, bringing the total cost of your journey to CHF 4.60

This is where FAIRTIQ comes into its own. FAIRTIQ only charges the fare to your account in the app at the end of the day and the price you will pay for that journey is CHF 3.10. Why? Instead of two short hop tickets, FAIRTIQ bills you the cheapest fare available for your journey, in this case a 1-2 zone ticket, which is valid for one hour.

If you were to continue travelling around Zurich on the same day, FAIRTIQ would eventually charge you no more than the price of a one-day ticket.

To make it easier to understand, both the ‘Standard price’ and "Charged price" is shown in the app.

If you forget to check out when you reach your final destination, the new Smart Stop feature will kick into action [FAIRTIQ Update: Smart Stop is a new optional feature that is continually being improved, we are receiving great feedback and will continue to enhance it. Its performance is dependent on many factors, including location and the capabilities of the smart phone being used]. It is able to detect whether you are walking or have switched from public to private transport, and then sends you a push notification asking if you want to check out or not. My experience with the feature has been patchy. I often receive a check-out push notification while I’m waiting for my connection. Sometimes, the push notification arrives a little late. However, I should point out that the feature was only launched in late May 2021 and is continually being improved.


The start-up behind the FAIRTIQ app

FAIRTIQ was launched in 2016 and celebrated its fifth anniversary this year. At the end of July 2021, FAIRTIQ had already recorded its 30 millionth ride. The Swiss start-up now employs over 70 people and is still hiring.

The FAIRTIQ app is rated 4.7 in the App Store and 4 in Google Play.

FAIRTIQ is also available in certain parts of Austria, Germany and Liechtenstein, and is being trialled in a number of other countries.

SBB and ÖBB have integrated FAIRTIQ's technology into their own apps. At SBB, the function is called EasyRide and has been available directly in the SBB Mobile app since September 2018.


FAIRTIQ bonus

If you travel with FAIRTIQ on at least five days in one calendar month, 5% of your ticket costs for that month will be credited to your FAIRTIQ account which you can use to pay your fares during the following month. However, not all fare and public transport associations participate in this bonus programme. You therefore receive this cashback only  if you travel with the participating transport providers and only on the fares you have paid for your journeys on their respective network.

Participating fare associations:

  • A-Welle
  • AUTO AG Uri
  • Frimobil
  • Libero
  • LIEmobil
  • Mobilis
  • Onde Verte
  • Ostwind
  • Passepartout
  • TV Zug

The bonus credited to your FAIRTIQ account is valid for one month only.

I would like more transparency here so that I can see how many of my journeys actually count towards the bonus. Currently, you simply receive a push notification once you have travelled five times with FAIRTIQ during the given month, and then another notification the following month informing you how much has been credited to your FAIRTIQ account.


FAIRTIQ and Reka

As well as credit cards (Mastercard, Visa), TWINT and PostFinance, you can also use your Reka Card as a means of payment in the app and save more money into the bargain. At selected Coop sales outlets, you can show your Coop Supercard and receive Reka Money with a 3% discount on your Reka Card. The Reka Card costs CHF 6 per year.

However, the Reka website is nowhere near as user-friendly as the FAIRTIQ app. I even had to call Reka, who then reset my account because I had apparently signed up for the wrong product. They say that happens a lot (in that case, please do something about it. It would cut down on the number of customer calls you have to field).


FAIRTIQ downsides

  • You can't buy SBB Supersaver tickets. 

[Update from FAIRTIQ: Our App is specifically designed for Pay As You Go post-pay Travel and is complementary to solutions for purchasing Advanced Supersaver tickets. FAIRTIQ is currently not allowed to sell the Supersaver tickets due to regulations - we would if we could.]

  • You can only buy tickets for yourself. 

[Update from FAIRTIQ: A new version will be released soon that includes a multi-traveller feature, which enables the user to purchase tickets for traveller companions] 

  • You cannot buy class upgrades or bike supplements. 

[Update from FAIRTIQ: The current version enables class upgrades to be purchased prior to travel and the facility to purchase bike supplements is on the product roadmap for inclusion in a later version]

  • ZVV-9-UhrPass is not logged correctly. 

[Update from FAIRTIQ: This is dependent on the central pricing engine and we hope to support this in the future]

  • There is no ticket display widget like on the SBB app. 

[Update from FAIRTIQ: We will consider this feature in the future product roadmap]


FAIRTIQ in the future

FAIRTIQ currently offers only a daily fare cap in the GA travel area. However, I think it would make a lot more sense to offer a weekly, monthly or even yearly cap as they do in other areas. Then, you would not have to work out if it is better worth your while to buy a monthly season ticket or a GA Travelcard instead. The check-in/check-out feature would stay. In this regard, a GA is admittedly a no-brainer.

Trials in this direction are already under way. The A-Welle fare association is currently testing a monthly fare cap scheme. If you exceed this cap, the difference is credited to your FAIRTIQ account the following month. This means that you no longer need to work out in advance how many zones your season ticket should cover. Instead, the app calculates all capping combinations at the end of each month and always charges you the cheapest season ticket for your journeys.

In addition, from November onwards, test users across Switzerland and in select fare associations will test models in which you pay upfront for discounted public transport credits (similar to Reka).


Free journey with FAIRTIQ

Enjoy a free journey on public transport with a CHF 3 travel voucher courtesy of FAIRTIQ. To redeem your voucher, download the FAIRTIQ app and register. Enter the code MWWQ8NSP3 BEFORE you check in on the app for the first time.


FAQ

What methods of payment can I use?

You can store the following methods of payment in the FAIRTIQ app: Mastercard, Visa, TWINT, PostFinance and the Reka Card.

Where can I use the FAIRTIQ app?

Across the GA network in Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

In iOS, do I need to set the access location authorisation to 'Always'?

Yes, but FAIRTIQ only accesses your location while you are actively using the app. You can view FAIRTIQ's privacy policy here.


This blogpost was written by Reto Stalder of Finanzdepot. You can view the original German version here.

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