Mass transit providers seeking to implement new fare management concepts like electronic fare collection systems should strive to make the most of the business intelligence they offer. Failing to do so can mean sacrificing high performance in an extremely competitive and challenging market.
Public transport operators — from bus and urban center shuttles to light-rail providers — are faced with enormous obstacles in today’s marketplace. Key among these challenges is satisfying customers. Passengers have become accustomed to swifter, more personalized service in many aspects of their daily lives and are demanding the treatment from transport providers. Yet, many mass transit companies are under severe financial stress due to decreased funding or pushback by ridership on increased fees, making it difficult to operate current services at a high level of performance, much less expand services.
Despite this challenge, organizations cannot afford to do more of the same and still hope to succeed in the changing business environment. They must develop the capabilities needed to capture customer insights and gain more interaction with travelers to better understand their needs. Customer insight and engagement will significantly increase the ability of providers to satisfy travelers by positively impacting ridership, operating costs and profits, the key elements of high performance in this industry. Electronic fare collection can help generate that insight.
What Advanced Fare Management Can Mean for Providers
There is an acute need to reduce costs throughout most transit organizations’ value chain as they contend with funding uncertainties. This is in addition to responding to riders’ demands. Developing more advanced fare management capabilities that use the information business intelligence provides helps companies improve operating efficiency and create a more intelligent infrastructure to sustain efficiency.
For example, companies employing sophisticated predictive analytics monitoring can support service improvement and cost by verifying collection and providing access to relevant, real-time data that transit organizations can act on. This technology can enable providers to continuously gather, interpret and correlate fleet performance data. This allows them to optimize maintenance and labor schedules, predict equipment failures and make more efficient use of fuel and other operations consumables — all lowering the cost of ownership. Although these fare collection and fleet intelligence capabilities can be used separately, their impact is magnified when used together tocontrol costs, improving the effectiveness of mass transit services.
The application of real-time information systems goes beyond managing cost. Using location-based tracking technology, these systems can provide passengers with relevant, accurate and up-to-date travel information. At the same time, these systems can generate intelligence on passenger flows, helping operators achieve greater efficiencies through improvements in areas such as scheduling, demand management and fleet utilization. Moreover, real-time systems can help improve safety as operators can immediately learn about and respond to issues in the field, as well as monitor network activity, to provide more preventative initiatives.
Business intelligence can beinvaluable from a customer service standpoint too, helping providers manage cost, while at the same time boosting ridership. New levels of convenience and connectivity to help travelers make the best use of their time should be a high priority. But ironically, while transport operators probably touch more people on a daily basis than any other urban entity, few may really know their customers or how to connect, engage or market to them. Going beyond the use of electronic fare collection as a more efficient payment scheme by analyzing customer data, providers can address this challenge.