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The death of the tangerine ticket may not be so smart

7 July 2016  •  Author(s): Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, European Railway Review

Richard Farmer of BemroseBooth Paragon – a supplier of transport tickets – looks at the future of the tangerine ticket and questions the readiness and speed of a move towards smart ticketing. European Railway Review puts his comments to ITSO…

The death of the tangerine ticket may not be so smart

Richard Farmer, Sales and Marketing Director for BemroseBooth Paragon, explains that there are some uncomfortable questions that need to be addressed before we sling our magnetic tickets and grab for a ‘smarter solution’.

Speaking to European Railway Review, he said: “Like any new technology, it was to be expected that people would be excited by the benefits that a smart option could bring to travellers throughout the country. The thought of a single card that could provide multi-modal travel and top-up options seemed to be a positive step forward. The reality however is that the vision is immediate but the implementation will take time, alongside significant investment.

“We should have learnt our lesson following the suggestion that commuters would be turning their backs on paper based tickets in favour of mobile phones. The truth is that less than 10 percent of transactions are as a result of mobile technologies and paper based tickets are still a popular and preferred option for many.  

“Announcing the death of a product that is still used every single day is premature to say the least and unhelpful at best”

“Announcing the death of a product that is still used every single day is premature to say the least and unhelpful at best. Rather than communicating a staged plan that will educate, inform and update passengers about the changes that will be made – in order for the transition to be seamless – there are comments made that leave us all baffled.

“As a company that works on both sides of the debate, manufacturing millions of magnetic stripe tickets and also offering smart and contactless solutions, it can be challenging to sit back and watch the debate rage on when we know that what we should be doing is working together and using our collective knowledge and advice to manage and facilitate change that will have a huge impact on travellers throughout the country.

“We can’t expect that commuters will swap from one ticket to another overnight, this is simply unrealistic”

“As a specialist within this industry, we believe that it would make more sense to get around a table and discuss how we approach the change from one ticket to another and how we support a phased transition. We can’t expect that commuters will swap from one ticket to another overnight, this is simply unrealistic.

Richard Farmer

Richard Farmer

“We know that a great deal of work has taken place over recent years, not least to update some stations throughout the country to become smart enabled. It is also fair to say however that there is still a long way to go before smart ticketing can be facilitated on every bus and in every train station throughout the country.

“Rather than dismissing a product that continues to support millions of journeys every single day, we should be considering how another product can become just as popular, while bringing extra benefits to travellers and passenger transport organisations wherever they are based in the country.

“If we work together not only will we be in a stronger position to correctly implement these changes, but we can take the time to support an industry that has relied on the paper based tickets to keep thousands of people in employment.

“We are being anything but ‘smart’ in the way that we are addressing the changes that we know are inevitable”

“We are missing the bigger picture with this debate and in actual fact we are being anything but ‘smart’ in the way that we are addressing the changes that we know are inevitable. The evolution from tangerine ticket to smart card will have a lasting impact on a number of industries and we need to make sure that they are ready for that.”

Comment from ITSO…

ITSO, the organisation which aims to make travelling on public transport throughout the UK seamless by using smart ticketing technology, has given its reaction to Richard Farmer’s comments.

“The whole thing about smart ticketing is that it is horses for courses and I have no doubt we will end up with many more than one thing.”

Steve Wakeland, General Manager at ITSO, said: “Those at the sharp end of the market are obviously looking to the future and can see a decline in tangerine ticket sales.

“In smart ticketing we are looking at all options – including mobile ticketing and account-based ticketing – but Bemrose Booth are right to say it will not be tomorrow. However it will be in the next few years.

“I predict a time when many will look forward to having a smart ticket or equivalent in their wallet or phone. Whether that leads to the complete demise of the tangerine ticket is another thing and certainly the passengers will have their say on that. The whole thing about smart ticketing is that it is horses for courses and I have no doubt we will end up with many more than one thing.”

Fare collection system market is expected to reach $10.1 Billion by 2022

According to a recent report by Allied Market Research, the world automated fare collection system market is expected to reach $10.1 Billion by 2022. The smart card segment accounted for around 41.4 percent of revenue share in 2015, and the market is expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.9 percent during the forecast period. North America and Europe collectively accounted for over 63 percent of the market share in 2015.

European Railway Review would like your opinion – Do you think this is the end of the line for the tangerine ticket?

7 responses to “The death of the tangerine ticket may not be so smart”

  1. Robert Parker says:

    Good evening Peter

    Mobile phone ticketing is all well and good if you can get a signal on your phone.

    There are many areas that are part of the rail network where you cannot get a signal. The Cumbrian Coast line being a classic example.

    And what happens when you lose your signal on the train round about the time your phone ticket has to be shown to the guard?

  2. Mike Blakewood says:

    Very interesting article.

    I recently read that Bemrose Booth took over Magnadata the former manufacturer of these tickets who went into administration earlier this year. And it was the afore mentioned Magnadata who took this business from Bemrose Booth (pass the parcel). Looking on the web at Bemrose Booths history it appears they themselves went into administration back in 2010 for one reason or another. Is this the curse of the tangerine ticket or unfortunate coincidence? Maybe a shift in technology is needed sooner rather than later and the cure is needed after all.

    If the move is towards a smart ticket or similar option then fingers crossed Bemrose Booth will secure some of this business or the curse of the UK rail ticket could strike once more.

    I’m interested in understanding who else manufactures these tickets surly RDG are not foolish enough to put all their eggs in one basket and have one ticket producer for the whole of the UK rail network? So well done to Mr Farmer as you appear to be the only supplier willing to comment.

  3. Peter van der Mark says:

    As usual those “in the know” see all sorts of heaven after the demise of the paper ticket. I can see a lot of notably ageing as well as foreign people who are going to be unsure and may decide to not use trains because they do not trust what and how they pay for their trip. That is apart from the fact that many do not have the necessary equipment and financial infrastructure at their disposition, or can use it to the required level. I would at least consider the paper “chip” ticket, as introduced in e.g. The Netherlands, as an intermediate solution to get people used to using new technology. Good article on a necessary subject to discuss!

    • Hi Peter,

      This subject is certainly attracting a lot of interest. I have answered more press questions on this subject than on any other in 20 years.

      Innovation is important, we can’t stand still. My 21 year old son finds buying a paper train ticket ‘quaint’, my 8 year old may never buy one! But you are right, the train must be accessible to all, including the 1.5 million people who don’t have a bank account, and the many more who have only basic banking which prevents them using contactless payment options. Smart phone based ticketing is great, but the percentage of over 55’s who do not have a smart phone is still huge compared to the near 100% take up of 18-25 year olds.

      As a supplier of both paper and smart enabled tickets I have a foot in both camps, but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water!

      Best wishes

  4. OK then, Bemrose Booth, what are you doing to develop a better product than the tangerine ticket?

    The major difficulty at the moment is not the obvious one that there will always be passengers who need/want something as convenient for them as the mag stripe ticket but instead the continuing failure of RDG (was ATOC) to engage with the travelling public. Indeed, they (i.e. train operators) should, through their trade association RDG, be openly investing in making new and better methods customer friendly. An online digital assistance service available on the train, perhaps? Using an avatar in that service? Universal high reliability internet connectivity from the train?

    Of course rail service operators are not exposed to competition in the way that high street or online traders in goods and other services are, or that airlines increasingly now are…

    • Hi Peter

      To answer your question, BemroseBooth Paragon is already a major supplier of RFID/smart tickets, cards and labels across the globe. To support the development of smart solutions we are just opening a brand new technical centre in the UK – BBPtech – which is dedicated to the development and manufacture of all things ‘smart’.

      We are talking to a number of TOCs about augmented reality and apps which are very exciting.

      I want to see new smart solutions on the UK rail network, but we have to plan for the transition and ensure that there is a ticketing solution accessible to all. I am sure we will see a mix of paper, smart, mobile and print at home options.

      I can’t speak for RDG, but they have done a huge amount of work in assisting TOCs in the introduction of smart and mobile solutions. There are more and more operators introducing smart. This will continue and will add to the customer experience.

      We should listen to passengers who want smart and mobile solutions, but we should also consider that in the TransportFocus passenger survey, the introduction of smart cards and mobile apps only featured at number 20 in a list of things that can improve the rail experience. Value, friendly staff, clean trains and toilets featured much higher.

      I am a smart supporter, the future of my business depends upon it, but I am keen not to develop a cure for no known disease.

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