On-line rail ticket sales services are being unified and integrated, overhauling the entire trip planning process. In the future, a single on-line trading platform will be created for passengers, transport companies and booking companies. Analytical Center expert Alexander Malakhov told Gudok about the economic effects of introducing digital technologies in public transport.
Uberization is engulfing both transport and other sectors of the economy
"There are two rather curious trends we are seeing today in how fares are collected," Mr. Malakhov said. "First of all, everybody is going cashless not just on transport but everywhere. Tickets themselves are being increasingly issued in digital form. People have been able for quite some time now to buy digital tickets for both trains and airplanes, then register them on their own and print out the boarding pass themselves. We are now seeing a similar trend gathering momentum in public transport, meaning on buses, commuter trains and in urban rapid transit systems. Cashless fare collection is increasingly turning from a gimmick into a feature that passengers now assume has to be available and have come to depend on."
"Secondly, we are increasingly seeing a shift from the use of specialized equipment to collect fares to the use of software running on standardized hardware," the expert continued. "In other words, all interactions are increasingly happening through mobile apps. And the most well-known example here is taxi aggregators that have been transforming not only the way that passengers interact with the service providers but also the internal business processes of taxi companies."
A new term has emerged, uberization, which is now engulfing both transport and other businesses, Mr. Malakhov believes. And in the meantime, there is clearly a lot of demand in public transport for more effective technologies. Verifiers, turnstiles, specialized transport passes, account replenishment machines, specialized conductor terminals and all the other technologies in use today are quite expensive to both deploy and operate, the expert believes.
"In the current realities in Russia this bill has to be footed either by the state or by the carriers and that's holding back the introduction of these technologies. In the meantime, the shift to software based solutions or uberization significantly reduces the costs of setting up and running a fare collection system, making the entire proposition far more attractive. The savings here are very much in evidence and very easy to estimate," Mr. Malakhov is sure.
The expert believes the public are more than ready for the further expansion of cashless fare collection; however, today the introduction of such systems is being held back by the high cost of available solutions. "Currently, a pilot project is being launched in Russia, which the Analytical Center for the Government of the Russian Federation is also taking part in, that it is going to use the principles of uberization described above and we expect that in the very near future the barriers to wider adoption of cashless fare collection we have today in the industry are going to be torn down," Mr. Malakhov explained.