North Rhine Westphalia prepares for region-wide eFare rollout
Anja Höhn, Sales Manager at the Cologne Public Transport Authority (KVB), talks to FAIRTIQ about the eFare pilot and rollout.
In April 2019, the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg (VRS), the regional transport association in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), launched its eFare pilot project. Project partners include the Cologne Public Transport Authority (KVB).
Over 10,000 test users have signed up to the pilot since then and have collectively travelled the equivalent of fourty times the circumference of the globe (over 1.7 million kilometres) on public transport, using the innovative ticketing solution.
In the space of two years, the project has undergone various changes and upgrades, and eFare is now ready to be rolled out across North Rhine-Westphalia. Thanks to this innovative solution, using public transport in the region is about to become easier than ever before.
The VRS listened to its test users and adapted the pilot project several times based on their feedback. Alongside a calculator so that users can work out the cost of their journey before they hop on board, the project team integrated PayPal and direct debit payment options as well as a discount model for heavy users. Any traveller who uses the eFare on at least 10 days in one month will be credited 5% of their total public transport spend for that month. They can then use these funds to pay for their public transport use over the subsequent month.
About the VRS eFare
The innovative VRS eFare model makes public transport use easier than ever before. Once they have registered, the traveller is all set to go. To start their trip, they simply have to swipe the slider on their smartphone before boarding. Once they have reached their destination, another swipe is all it takes to end their trip. The fare for the journey is calculated automatically and charged based on the shortest (linear or 'beeline') distance between the two points. This means that the passenger no longer has to waste time working out the right fare zone or ticket. The new ticketing solution is also fairer because it eliminates hefty price jumps between certain fare zones.
In our Industry Interview, Anja Höhn explains the decision to roll out eFare and talks about plans in the pipeline for VRS.
FAIRTIQ: How did the decision to roll out the eFare across NRW come about?
First of all, NRW has already had several successful regional eFare projects like the VRS – KVB – FAIRTIQ pilot. Second, the public transport providers in the region have already been working for many years on the creation of a NRW-wide fare structure. Rolling out the solution across the region therefore seemed the next logical step. This move also enjoys the enthusiastic backing of the NRW Ministry of Transport.
FAIRTIQ: What are the main lessons you have learned from the pilot?
We concentrated on the essentials. A simple eFare, a user-friendly app and the courage to take it one step at a time. For example, we implemented the different payment options incrementally. We adopted the same gradual approach when it came to reviewing what type of additional offers were needed.
FAIRTIQ: What advice do you have for other regions that are thinking about introducing an eFare solution?
Keep it simple and take the leap. The adoption of this type of solution can be a real boon for the industry, particularly in the present climate.
FAIRTIQ: What has been the reaction from test users so far?
Our regional eFare pilot has been well received. Users are happy and we are equally thrilled that we have also managed to attract more users in the older age groups.
FAIRTIQ: How do you see the future with FAIRTIQ?
Of course, I hope that our great working relationship continues! Seriously though, we really appreciate your focus on the essentials and the reliable and prompt implementation you have always provided. We look forward to benefiting from all of this in the future, too.