14 December 2022

Bringing simplicity to the mobility sector – easier said than done?

Bringing simplicity to the mobility sector – easier said than done?
More than 150 participants from four nations took part in the virtual 2022 FAIRTIQ Forum, which was held between 17 and 18 November. The theme of this year's two-day event was 'simplicity'.

Simplification is easy. Or is it? By the end of the two-day FAIRTIQ Forum 2022, attendees had undoubtedly fully internalised the complexity of simplicity.

International experts from industry, academia and the public administration took part in a panel discussion on a range of hot-button issues for the public transport sector. These included an exploration of the best way to implement the Deutschlandticket so that it achieves the desired results, and how to motivate more people to make the switch from private vehicles to public transport. The panel also discussed innovative pricing and sales policy solutions in the DACH region.

What follows is a recap of the 2022 FAIRTIQ Forum, as well as the programme highlights.

"I couldn't shake the idea of developing a Generalabo-Komfort (Swiss equivalent of the German Bahncard 100)"

Gian-Mattia Schucan, founder and CEO of FAIRTIQ, began the FAIRTIQ Forum with his own very personal story. He shared with his fellow panellists and the audience that his vision of making public transport more attractive by making it simpler dates back to his pre-FAIRTIQ days, when he was working as Director of Sales at the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB).

Read more about the FAIRTIQ founding story here.

A solution that is radically simple for transport companies and fare associations to implement

The FAIRTIQ solution is not only easy for passengers – and tipsy monkeys – to use. It is also easy for transport companies and associations to implement.

FAIRTIQ now has 60 public transport partners in 6 countries, and the numbers keep rising. Every day, 130,000 journeys are generated via the FAIRTIQ solution alone. Every day, FAIRTIQ's 137 employees work hard to ensure that the solution is the best it possibly can be. By way of example, Gian-Mattia Schucan unveiled the layout of the new additional passenger function, which will be rolled out in the next few months.

2022 FAIRTIQ Forum programme

  • Keynote: Simplicity – Why is it important for business? Dr. Felix C. Seyfarth (University of St.Gallen)
  • Panel discussion: Simplicity in mobility and public transport with Dr. Felix C. Seyfarth (University of St.Gallen); Kerstin Haarmann (President of the Verkehrsclub Deutschland); Daniel Hofer (BLS AG) and moderator Maurice Rapin (FAIRTIQ)
  • Input and Q&A from FAIRTIQ partners: How to inspire customers to take up simple digital solutions like FAIRTIQ? Christian Hillbrand (Verkehrsverbund Vorarlberg, VVV); Christine Meier (Verkehrsbetriebe Biel, VB), and Kathrin Jähnert-Elster (Hallesche Verkehrs-AG, HAVAG)
  • Keynote: FAIRTIQ – Where is the journey heading? With FAIRTIQ founder and CEO Gian-Mattia Schucan
  • Workshop sessions on marketing success stories, data insights, pricing and fare innovations, fraud monitoring and customer service
  • Sales and pricing policy in the public transport sector – beliefs, experiences and thoughts on the future from a Swiss perspective, with Dr. Peter Füglistaler, Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT)
  • Panel discussion: Pricing and sales policy in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and beyond, with Dr. Peter Füglistaler (Swiss Federal Office of Transport, FOT); Christian Hillbrand (Verkehrsbund Vorarlberg, VVV); Johann von Aweyden (Deutschlandtarifverbund GmbH); Dr. Wiebke Zimmer (Agora Verkehrswende); Gian-Mattia Schucan (FAIRTIQ), and moderator Paula Ruoff (FAIRTIQ)

You will find a recap of the keynote speeches and panel discussion below

Keynote: Simplicity – Why is it important for business?

Dr Felix C. Seyfarth works, among other things, as a lecturer on creativity, decision-making and responsibility at the University of St. Gallen. The main subject of his keynote address was the complexity of simplicity.

To guarantee the popularity of public transport use in the long term and get ever more people to make the switch to buses and trains, transport operators and associations will have to adopt a more customer-centred approach. One potential solution is simplicity for passengers and operators alike.

By way of example, Dr Seyfahrt illustrated this point by looking at the case of the iPod, an ingenious and innovative product that was an instant hit and revolutionised the music industry but whose development was extremely complex.

The simplicity principle is an infinite loop. Simplicity is the straightforward presentation of a complex product to the end user, which offers only what is needed.

Panel discussion: Simplicity in mobility and public transport

Maurice Rapin moderated this panel discussion during which the three experts shared their thoughts on the situation in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and the action that will be needed to bring simplicity to the public transport sector.

Kerstin Haarmann is the President of the Verkehrsclub Deutschland (VCD), a non-profit environmental association that campaigns for mobility transition and sustainable, safe and healthy mobility for all. Ms Haarmann noted, at the start of the discussion, that Germany's dense network of transport associations slows down progress on the 'get on and go' approach.

In Switzerland, passenger transport accounts for 21% of the modal share which, according to Daniel Hofer from the private rail operator BLS, is lower than it should be given Switzerland's climate targets. A frequent reason given for not using public transport is the complex ticketing system. This complexity also makes it more difficult to bring new customers on board.

What can be done to make public transport simpler?

According to Dr Felix C. Seyfarth, it is worth looking for pointers in the music, taxi and newspaper industries which have already undergone a major digital transformation.

For Kerstin Haarmann, solving the zone issue should be seen as an opportunity to simplify public transport as a product. She cited two measures that should be taken: the streamlining of the complex network of transport operators and associations, and the implementation of a regular-interval timetable.

Before digitalisation gains more momentum, Germany needs to take a step back and streamline the complex network of transport operators and associations. – Kerstin Haarmann, VCD

Daniel Hofer from BLS added that Switzerland faces a similar problem. Like Germany's federal states, the cantons are sovereign. However, he notes that the FAIRTIQ solution provides a ticketing service that functions across transport association boundaries and therefore resolves the problem, at least for passengers.

Is simplicity expensive to implement?

Dr Felix C. Seyfarth argued that simplicity may be costly but it is also lucrative, as companies like Google and Apple show. He added that they also benefit from network effects, in other words the value or utility that a user derives from the product increases as user numbers rise.

Daniel Hofer agreed with Dr Seyfarth and noted that simplifying the fare system is a huge undertaking but needs to be done if the public transport sector is to increase ridership.

"The arrival of the €49 ticket will require transport associations to give more thought to what they actually want to offer customers who do not have a travelcard." – Kerstin Haarmann

"The public transport sector needs failsafe and foolproof solutions so that I don't have to worry about having the right ticket. At the end of the day, public transport is about more than profit-making enterprises. It also serves the public interest because it provides an essential service and is central to mobility transition. As such, it makes sense to promote it." – Dr Felix Seyfahrt

How can we get customers to embrace simple, digital solutions like FAIRTIQ?

Keynote – three FAIRTIQ partners share their experiences

The first day of the FAIRTIQ Forum ended with three keynote speeches by FAIRTIQ partners. Christine Maier from Verkehrsbetriebe Biel (VB), Christian Hillbrand from Verkehrsverbund Vorarlberg (VVV) and Kathrin Jähnert-Elster from Halleschen Verkehrs-AG (HAVAG) talked about the action they have taken to win over their customers to FAIRTIQ.

Christine Maier from Verkehrsbetriebe Biel (VB), Switzerland

The public transport operator in the Swiss city of Biel has been a FAIRTIQ partner since 2015. It all began with a paradigm shift in the VB sales systems, based on a desire by the operator to reduce the number of ticket machines and provide customers with a simple, digital ticketing solution instead.

"Due to Biel's population structure, a large share of passengers prefers to buy their tickets from a ticket office and pay for them in cash. We are still working hard to win them around to a digital solution." – Christine Maier, VB

Christian Hillbrand from the Verkehrsverbund Vorarlberg (VVV), Austria

The Vorarlberg regional transport association (VVV) adopted the FAIRTIQ digital ticketing solution in 2018. Like the Biel transport company, this move was part of its efforts to reduce the number of ticket machines it operated.

Occasional users make up most of the FAIRTIQ user group. The VVV especially likes and applies the solution's capping function and targeted sales tools like bonuses and discounts.

Kathrin Jähnert-Elster from Hallesche Verkehrs-AG (HAVAG), Germany

HAVAG has adopted the complete FAIRTIQ solution, including the eFare, as well as the pilot version and the distance-based fare. What elevates this partnership to another level is the market research activities. You can read more about them in this blog post.

Market research generates valuable insights into the behaviour and needs of HAVAG customers.

"One of the things we looked into was whether FAIRTIQ would motivate customers to increase their public transport use."

Nearly one in three respondents who had been using the app for more than one month said that they now make around an additional four journeys per month thanks to the app.

FAIRTIQ founder and CEO Gian-Mattia Schucan's favourite quote

Day 2 – Key takeaways from the workshop sessions

Marketing success stories

What is the easiest way to marketing success? We shared our key takeaways from different marketing campaigns (marketing organisation, content production and communication)

  1. Keeping the campaign process, content creation and user experience simple is the key to marketing success
  2. Cross-partner campaigns are the simplest and most effective way to maximise regional impact → synergies
  3. The FAIRTIQ user base is growing rapidly in all regions → campaigns boost growth

Data insights

What data does FAIRTIQ collect, how do we process it and how do we and our partners jointly use it?

  1. Data pool generated on board is a highly valuable but underexploited byproduct
  2. FAIRTIQ partner dashboard with processed anonymised data offers valuable insights into passenger travel behaviour
  3. In-app feedback facilitates and opens the door to direct contact with the customer

Pricing and fare innovations

We have learned that more choice is not always better. So, how do we bring simplicity to the public transport sector?

  1. Customers want prices to be fair
  2. Creating trust through simplicity of use
  3. Important fare-related keywords: distance-based and capping

Customer service

How does our customer service work and what tools are at FAIRTIQ's disposal? We show why simplicity is important when it comes to customer contact.

  1. We can confirm that positive interaction leads to increased use
  2. Uninterrupted communication chain so that technical solutions are quickly found to the problem
  3. The more journeys that are made, the more precise and better the system behind FAIRTIQ becomes

Fraud monitoring

What does fraud look like at FAIRTIQ and how do we deal with abuses? We shed light on internal processes and cooperation with partners.

  1. At FAIRTIQ, the focus is on preventing fraud on the app
  2. The FAIRTIQ app does not replace the work of ticket inspectors but adds an extra layer of protection against fraud
  3. To avoid errors, the entire journey is taken into account in cases of suspected fraud

Keynote: Sales and pricing policy in the public transport sector – beliefs, experiences and thoughts on the future from a Swiss perspective

Dr. Peter Füglistaler, Director of the Swiss Federal Office of Transport (FOT) talked the panellists and audience through the sales and pricing policy of the Swiss public transport sector.

Overview of the public transport situation in Switzerland

  • In Switzerland, the principle of 'direct transport' is enshrined in the Passenger Transport Act. If passengers travel on a route that passes through multiple fare association networks, they only need to buy one ticket. As a result, passengers do not have to deal with the complexities of the dense transport association network.
  • The Alliance SwissPass is an industry organisation that brings together 52 transport operators and 18 fare associations, and implements the direct transport principle. However, each association sets its own fares.
  • The aim should be to implement a nationwide uniform pricing structure
  • This is precisely the aim of the GITA project (preliminary design of an integrated fare system)

Panel discussion: Pricing and sales policy in Switzerland, Germany, Austria and beyond

👉 Click here to read more about the panel discussion.

Many thanks to our panellists and audience.

We are already counting down the days to the next FAIRTIQ Forum!

 👉 Read our blog post about the 2021 FAIRTIQ Forum here.  

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