In our latest industry interview, FAIRTIQ talks to Guido Nehrkorn, Group Sales Manager with Erfurter Verkehrsbetriebe AG.
Cooperation between FAIRTIQ and EVAG all began with a market test of the ticketing solution in the greater Erfurt area in 2019. The app was a massive hit with the public and by early 2020 it had been rolled out across the wider Mittelthüringen public transport network (VMT).
Following industry interviews with Christoph Heuing, managing director of VMT, and Myriam Berg, managing director of EVAG, FAIRTIQ decided to check in again with its partners to find out how things are going and what plans are in the pipeline. Guido Nehrkorn, Group Sales Manager at EVAG, kindly agreed to answer our questions.
FAIRTIQ: It is now more than one year since VMT – and your partner EVAG – became the first regional transport association in Germany to roll out the FAIRTIQ solution across its network. More recently, VMT has seen a sharp rise in FAIRTIQ user numbers, particularly in Erfurt. So, how would you rate the project's progress to date?
We are really happy that user numbers are trending upwards again and the customer feedback we have received to date has been very positive. The rise in active users observed in recent months proves that targeted customer outreach and media coverage are effective tools for attracting new passengers.
FAIRTIQ: What has customer feedback on FAIRTIQ been like?
Our passengers appreciate the fact that the FAIRTIQ app lets them travel whenever they want, without having to worry about ticket office opening hours or the payment methods that the ticket machine accepts. Another plus point for customers is that the app works out the right fare for their trip, so they don't have to. Two other features have also helped build trust in the system: the best price guarantee over one calendar week and the unconditional fare discount from the first one-way trip.
FAIRTIQ: Why did EVAG decide to remove its onboard ticket vending machines and what has the reaction from passengers been like?
EVAG operates multiple sales channels. Our mobility centre in downtown Erfurt, located at our major tram interchange, is our main point of contact for passengers. As well as advising customers on the ticket they need for the journey, our mobility centre provides a host of other travel services: car sharing, long-distance bus journeys, parking management, and combined tickets, to name but a few. Our sales cooperation partners also have customer service points across the city and bus users can buy tickets from the driver. Added to these channels are the over 50 ticketing machines we operate at our main bus stops and transfer nodes.
What this means is that our ticketing machines on the trams are a last-resort solution for spur-of-the-moment passengers. Also, these machines offer a very limited range of tickets. Upgrading this 10-year-old system would have cost in excess of two million euros. This simply did not make financial sense given our sales channels, including our mobile ticketing solution. Social media have portrayed our decision as especially bad for senior citizens and passengers with restricted mobility. Yet, both these groups continue either to buy their tickets in advance or purchase a travel pass/season ticket.
FAIRTIQ: What solutions do you have in place that let passengers still buy a ticket without a smartphone?
This year we plan to purchase additional till systems for our sales cooperation partners. We have already made contact with the appropriate manufacturers and hope to double the size of our point-of-sale network by next year, at the latest. We will also optimise the siting of our ticket machines and will install machines at new stops. To attract other target groups, the minimum contract period for Verkehrsverbund Mittelthüringen (VMT) season tickets has been cut to four months.
FAIRTIQ: It has been a really challenging time for the public transport sector, not least due to the slump in demand. Did FAIRTIQ help EVAG safeguard its income streams?
More users pay their fares with FAIRTIQ than through other channels. They love the convenience of paying their fares with their phone.
FAIRTIQ: Does EVAG have any plans in the pipeline?
'Erfurt mobil', the EVAG app, offers our regular customers not only the latest timetable and transport information but also the possibility to manage their travel pass/season ticket contract themselves. For example, they can change their address and bank details or the type of travel pass they want. The next step is to integrate their travel pass/season ticket in the FAIRTIQ app, which will make travelling in other parts of the network even more convenient.
Thank you for the great interview!
👉 If you would like to find out more about the EVAG–FAIRTIQ partnership, go here to read the testimonial interview mit Myriam Berg, managing director of EVAG.
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Paula Ruoff, Lead Germany