Since 2021 the Occitanie regional council, Région Occitanie, and SNCF Voyageurs Occitanie have partnered with FAIRTIQ to develop 'no-cost' fare models targeted at specific user groups. The resulting smartphone-based solutions are highly reliable, easy to use, and extremely popular. Daniel Aubaret, Marketing and Customer Relations Director at SNCF Voyageurs Occitanie, looks back on these early successes and reveals the partners' latest ingenious and pioneering projects.
FAIRTIQ: It has been almost two years since the FAIRTIQ app launched in Occitanie. How has it benefited your customers?
Daniel Aubaret: There are so many! The first benefit is that travellers no longer need to buy their ticket in advance or know the stop where they want to get off. They can change their mind even when they are already en route. Also, the post-paid ticketing technology eases the pressure on the after-sales service when operational difficulties occur like train delays and cancellations.
The second major benefit is the range of fare types. FAIRTIQ opens up a host of opportunities for developing new fare schemes that also include the activation of a virtual travel wallet. In Occitanie, we have already devised and introduced the +=0 and +=- discounted fare schemes. They offer lots of benefits but are actually pretty complex. Thankfully, this is where FAIRTIQ works its magic: travellers no longer have to do all the tricky calculations themselves or plan their journey and buy their ticket ahead of time. The app automatically records the journeys the user has made, applies the corresponding discounts, and credits their virtual travel wallet. This means that users can reap the benefits of these fare models without even knowing they exist!
"Travellers no longer have to plan their journey or buy their tickets ahead of time. They can now simply set off, safe in the knowledge that they will always be charged the lowest possible fare."
FAIRTIQ: Your +=0 fare scheme for young people and the +=- scheme for seniors have proved really popular. What projects do you plan to tackle next? Have you any revolutionary ideas up your sleeve?
Daniel Aubaret: Yes, lots! (Laughs) In autumn 2023, we plan to launch a new fare scheme for the 26–60 age group which can be adapted to any frequency of use, from occasional to regular. We've noticed that monthly public transport use among this group is pretty irregular and highly volatile. The problem is that the current travelcard system is relatively rigid and not suited to these more flexible mobility behaviours. We are drawing on our discounted fare models for young people and seniors to devise a credits-based user and loyalty scheme for this group. The more you travel, the more credit goes into your virtual travel wallet, and the less you ultimately pay for your journey. Our aim here is to encourage everyone to change their mobility behaviour, which will enable them to reduce their carbon footprint and therefore do their bit to protect not only the planet but also their purchasing power.
Another project is aimed at the 42,000 or so people who move to Occitanie each year. All newly registered residents will not pay anything for the first four journeys they make via the FAIRTIQ app. This will allow them to explore the region's mobility network and, we hope, win them over with our simple fare system.
"Our customer satisfaction surveys show (a satisfaction rate of 94%) that our customers particularly like the fact that the FAIRTIQ is so easy to use. Even without the discounted fares, travellers really appreciate the system's simplicity."
FAIRTIQ: What challenges are you working on at the moment? Is FAIRTIQ technology helping you find solutions to them?
Daniel Aubaret: Let's take a very concrete example: consecutive pollution peaks. To prevent and limit these consecutive episodes from occurring, Région Occitanie and SNCF Voyageurs Occitanie want to encourage people to change their mobility behaviour without impacting their purchasing power. So, we came up with the idea of developing a special offer for these consecutive days: anyone can take the train for just 1 euro. But a pollution peak is difficult to predict, and we receive official alerts of impending peaks at very short notice. Added to this is the fact that it takes a while to activate the offer in the app. We are therefore working with the FAIRTIQ team to reduce the activation period as much as possible so that we are able to launch with minimum delay.
FAIRTIQ: That is a tough challenge, but we're on it! Finally, let's talk about the COVID-19 pandemic. How has it affected your customers' mobility behaviour?
Daniel Aubaret: It has massively affected their mobility behaviour. Before the pandemic, about 60% of our customers used one of our travelcards. Today, only 40% do. On the one hand, passenger volume at weekends has increased considerably, and is even higher than weekday volumes. The main driver of this change is remote working, which makes people want to get out and about more at the weekend. On the other hand, passenger volumes on Fridays have fallen dramatically, as it has become the most popular day for people to work from home. Pre-pandemic, this was the busiest day of the week because it was when students typically travelled home to their parents for the weekend. These changes represent real challenges, but also great opportunities to develop our services and mobility packages.
Thank you, Daniel Aubaret, for the great interview!
You can read more about SNCF TER Occitanie +=0 and +=- fare schemes in our case study.