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Smart ideas make smart business

Smart ideas make smart business

30/04/2010 | Channel: Products & Services, Station Development

The technology surrounding fare collection and ticketing has come a long way since the original Edmondson card and the subsequent development of the printed paper ticket with a magnetic stripe, as ANDY JEBSON explains

Ten years ago, ticketing in the rail industry was much as it had been for many years, printed paper with a magnetic stripe. Even the stripe wasn’t that important as gating of railway stations wasn’t widespread and new ideas like smartcards weren’t even on the ticketing agenda. The picture globally wasn’t all that different. There was a smartcard scheme in Hong Kong, and one due to start in London, but by and large, for everyone else it was the mechanical process that dominated ticketing systems.

To Scheidt & Bachmann, an international company headquartered in Germany with a long history of engineering excellence, the move into fare collection systems was a natural extension of their core businesses of signalling technology, petrol station vending and access control. That the move would start in an era of long lifecycle products and simple services made the introduction of fare collection systems an easy one. The customers wanted quality engineering, reliability and something that was easy to manage.

In the last ten years, those same qualities that helped establish Scheidt & Bachmann as a global supplier of fare collection systems, remain part of the core of what is delivered to the customer. A commitment to excellence and to product development and innovation have been applied to the challenges of identifying and then providing the ticketing products for the next decade.

A UK sales agency was established in 2002 through the Needham Group and, through that, an initial sale was made for some self-service rail ticketing machines to ScotRail. High quality engineering, touchscreen technology for the customer interface and a central control system that delivered both machine management and reporting tools were important features.

At the same time, Scheidt & Bachmann were expanding their global customer base with projects in forty countries on five continents. Unlike the UK, global success saw the sale of full rail ticketing systems, from booking office machines to hand-held machines, Central Systems to smartcards, automatic gates and validators. Bus solutions were also an important part of the business as the touchscreen and smartcard technologies were introduced into the market.

A notable success was winning the MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) contract to design, develop and deliver a complete automatic fare collection system, including smartcards, for use on bus and metro for Boston in North America. Another project that saw an early delivery of the ‘new’ smartcard technology was for a light rail scheme, LUAS, in Dublin, Ireland.

2006 saw new gains in the UK rail sector when Scheidt & Bachmann gating technology was selected by two franchises and ticket vending machine (TVM) orders continued to grow. The most significant change to the business was however the winning of the Department for Transport funded Yorcard Project.

Yorcard was the first ITSO smartcard scheme to be awarded with a requirement to deliver not only a solution for bus operations but also to include national rail services, a wide range of distribution channels and a Central System that would expand to provide fully automated revenue management.

The initial phase of the project saw services go live in Sheffield with a range of product innovations and technical solutions that have still to be seen in any other smartcard project with commercial products, stored value and a successful implementation of touch-in touch-out on both rail and bus. The scheme also incorporates the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS) concession benefit that has seen cards from all over England being used in the Yorcard scheme.

Whilst there has been a focus on the development of a wide range of devices for customers who are looking at implementing ITSO schemes, the rail market has not been neglected. Scheidt & Bachmann successfully delivered its 1500th TVM and is introducing new gating installations which are smartcard capable and incorporate barcode ticketing to the industry’s RSP (Rail Settlement Plan) standard for that media.

Recognising that there is much more to factorya smartcard scheme than the retail devices, Scheidt & Bachmann has developed a range of back office modules that not only manage the smartcard transactions but also allow integration with a wide range of third-party systems that are currently in use in public transport revenue management today, such as Inform, Trapeze and E.P Morris products for the bus industry and LENNON for the rail industry.

For the providers of public transport services this means that the Scheidt & Bachmann ITSO solution allows for the integration of existing paper ticketing data with the new ITSO smartcard data without having to replace many current business systems and processes.

Of course, Scheidt & Bachmann have recognised that there is much more to delivering solutions than high quality engineering and innovative developments. The public transport sector expects a high level of support to be available and the company has responded to that.

The UK Headquarters, opened in the summer of 2007, has seen the UK team grow significantly, with the introduction of Key Account Managers whose job it is to work with customers on developing solutions to fit their business needs, a Project Management team to ensure that major projects and new installations alike go smoothly and technical experts on hand to help customers directly in the UK. Dedicated service teams for on-going support have been significantly increased, with many of them based in the field, ensuring that customers in Scotland have the same access to service as those in the South of England.

Scheidt & Bachmann also expanded its business very successfully in the light rail sector. Greater Manchester’s Metrolink is currently being fitted out with a complete new self-service machine system, and Newcastle’s Metro has selected Scheidt & Bachmann for a complete retail technology system, including self-service and booking office ticketing machines, gating and a full Back Office.

The comprehensive range of products, solutions and services coupled with a full turnkey project delivery capability are a formidable combination. Scheidt & Bachmann are proud of their ability to recognise the different needs of each of their clients and configure these capabilities to deliver best of breed solutions.

To find out more about Scheidt & Bachmann solutions for the UK and around the world, contact the director of UK sales, Andy Jebson on 01372 230 400 or visit the web site at www.scheidt-bachmann.com