Travellers are making increasing use of sophisticated electronic ticketing (e-ticketing) systems and journey planners. However, if they wish to travel to a different country, they must familiarise themselves with the local smartcard system, the cost of transport, and the best way to pay. The solution to seamless cross-border travel lies in interoperable e-ticketing systems that exchange data and share information. The EU-funded Horizon 2020 ETC (The European Travellers Club: Account-Based Travelling across the European Union) project has developed the technical systems and determined the required governance to achieve this goal using the concept of account-based travelling (ABT). This idea takes passenger and ticket information from a smartcard and places it in an ‘account’ on the cloud. In essence, the ticket is in the account not on the card. Moreover, using this interoperable ABT concept does not require EU-level regulation. “ABT is recognised as the next step for many e-ticketing schemes,” says project coordinator Roel Testroote. Schemes join up Project partners encouraged e-ticketing schemes and transport operators to embrace ABT. “The European Travellers Club (ETC) system can reside next to the existing ticketing system that is implemented in the country,” explains Testroote. “We have developed standards, processes and technologies that are freely available to all interested parties, while receiving the benefits of interoperability,” he adds. The objective is to allow more schemes (or ‘travellers clubs’) in Member States and regions to recognise each other through the trust framework established by the ETC. This will enable travellers to seamlessly use their existing account across borders and schemes. According to Testroote: “Once this has reached a critical mass with the associated number of travellers, even those transport operators or schemes that are reluctant to join now, will have a strong incentive to participate.” Experience ABT in the lab Researchers developed a pilot in Germany to demonstrate ABT utility for both regional and cross-border travellers using on-line planned and booked tickets and a pilot in the Netherlands based on Pay-As-You-Go. Another pilot based in Luxembourg demonstrates the integration of transport and non-transport services (such as parking) through ABT. Testroote observes: “Feedback from our pilot schemes is very positive about the advantages that cross-border and mobile-enhanced travelling can bring. Half of the respondents claimed they now use public transport abroad more often thanks to ETC.” The systems developed by ETC are tested at the European Travel Lab, which is located within the Amersfoort train station in the Netherlands and acts as a permanent demonstration facility for informing the public, stakeholders and local authorities. “During a visit to the lab you can experience account-based travelling and get travel information immediately on your smartphone by using your home cloud-based account,” claims Testroote. “With our solution you can travel across borders using your own existing travel card and integrate other functions in the account-based system like parking.” ETC’s ticketing solutions could make travelling seamless, resulting in greater use of public transportation and increased cooperation between transport authorities within Europe. An interoperable ABT system can contribute to more sustainable means of travel and help improve the quality of life of EU citizens.
ETC, transport, ticketing, cross-border, account-based travelling