8 August 2023

A fare model revolution in France’s Southwest

A fare model revolution in France’s Southwest

In the following interview, Jean-Luc Gibelin, the region's head of mobility, shares his thoughts on why the partnership between FAIRTIQ and the region in southwestern France has worked so well. The combination of FAIRTIQ technology and excellent cooperation between the SNCF-owned train operator, the region of Occitanie and FAIRTIQ has proved to be a winning formula and has revolutionised mobility in the region. Offering rewards and discounts for frequent ridership has emerged as an attractive alternative to conventional season tickets and offers public transport users unprecedented flexibility.

FAIRTIQ: First, could you tell us a little about yourself, about your career past and present? Where does your passion for public transport come from?

Jean-Luc Gibelin: I don't come from a transport background. I spent my career in public health. My first post was as a trained psychiatric nurse and my last was as chief executive of a hospital. When I was elected to the regional council in 2016, I was put in charge of mobility. I've learnt a lot and I really enjoy my work.


"The '+=Flex' aims to make it easier to use public transport by letting travellers pay only for the journeys they actually make. Even better, the more a person travels, the higher the discount on their journeys."


FAIRTIQ: The Occitanie region has launched '+=Flex', an innovative new fare product. Can you explain how it works and what benefits it offers customers?

Jean-Luc Gibelin: I'd be delighted to! The '+=Flex' aims to make it easier to use public transport by letting travellers pay only for the journeys they actually make. Even better, the more a person travels, the higher the discount on their journeys. It's a new and unique fare product that combines post-payment, use-based discounts, and loyalty points, which means that passengers never lose out. This fare product is targeted at anyone aged 27 to 59, no matter what their mobility needs are.

FAIRTIQ: Several months ago, the Occitanie region joined forces with SNCF to launch two fare products: '+=0' for young people and '+=-' for seniors. What kind of feedback have you received since the launch? Why did you choose these two groups?

Jean-Luc Gibelin: The fare products for the under-27s have proved very popular, and uptake of products for the over-60s is encouraging. Our initial aim was to attract individuals who were not regular train users. This was a clear political choice to facilitate the mobility of young people. We are delighted to report that the '+=0' fare product has been a resounding success: an average of 80,000 tickets are sold every month via the mobile app, and in some months the number even reaches 110,000. We also set a new record in June 2023 when we sold a total of 320,000 libertio youth tickets across all our channels. 


"Genuine loyalty is rewarded, and our model requires no initial outlay on the part of the user."


FAIRTIQ: Several European countries have recently launched initiatives like the moderately priced flat-rate season tickets introduced in Germany. What advantages do incentive-based pricing models like the '+=' fare products offered in Occitanie have over flat-rate models?

Jean-Luc Gibelin: Our approach is tailored to our specific region, whereas the examples you cite are government decisions on a national scale. Our fare schedule is reasonably priced to encourage people to travel by train. We are seeing a gradual rise in usage-based discounts (the more you travel, the less you pay, and in some cases younger users even travel for free). Genuine loyalty is rewarded, and our model requires no initial outlay on the part of the user as they only pay for the services they actually use.



FAIRTIQ: Can you explain the specific roles played by the region/authority, the operator, and your technology partner, FAIRTIQ? How does cooperation work in practice?

Jean-Luc Gibelin: As the public transport authority, we set the objectives and finance the policy choices. SNCF advises and supports us, while FAIRTIQ uses its technological and marketing expertise to create solutions that enable us to meet our policy objectives.

FAIRTIQ: Fares are just one of many measures to make public transport more attractive than other less virtuous modes of transport. What is the region's broader strategy to make mobility more sustainable?

Jean-Luc Gibelin: We believe that three factors are key to improving mobility in the long term: an attractive choice of fare products, an increase in the supply of transport services, and better-quality services for mobility users.

FAIRTIQ: Can you give us an idea of what plans the Occitanie region has in the pipeline? Are you looking to introduce more new fare products or maybe extend the model to multimodal/intermodal services like the region's bus routes and urban transport networks?

Jean-Luc Gibelin: We are firmly committed to intermodal shared mobility. A trial period is planned by the end of the year. We are also planning to lower the age limit for the '+=0' fare product from 18 to 16 in September 2023. It is already available on liO train services and we want to roll it out across all regular liO coach routes, too. We are currently opening up '+=flex'' to all members of the public and work is ongoing on the integration of the region's urban networks into a multimodal fare model. Finally, we are also working to further reduce overall cost of ticketing and resolve the access control issue in the Toulouse metro.

Thank you, Mr Gibelin, for taking the time to speak to us!

In the world of public transport, the alliance between FAIRTIQ and the region of Occitanie represents a genuine breakthrough. The region is blazing a trail with its innovative fare products like '+=Flex', '+=0' and '+=-', which not only make mobility more accessible but also make public transport more attractive for everyone, from young adults to senior citizens. At the same time, it is weighing up the exciting possibility of trying new fare products on urban and intermodal networks while continuing to pursue its broader goal of making mobility more sustainable. The French government's initiative to introduce a single nationwide transport ticket, which is similar in design to FAIRTIQ's existing check-in/check-out model, is proof that the solutions which have emerged from the fruitful partnership between FAIRTIQ and the Occitanie region are hitting the mark. Thanks to this type of pioneering spirit, the future of public transport looks bright and limitless opportunities could open up for mobility solutions that are both modern and kinder to the planet.