How tech fundamentally shapes public transit today and makes it easier for operators and users

Date: October 1st 2023 | Author: Melanie Haynes

Within public transit management, many buzzwords are bandied around – SaaS, MaaS and ABT. Most people using public transit are unaware of these concepts, yet they fundamentally shape public transit today and make it easier for riders.

These technological concepts are modern transportation’s building blocks, and companies like Kuba lead the way. But what do they mean to riders and agencies?

Mobility as a Service

MaaS (Mobility as a Service) has been around since 1996, when it was first piloted in Gothenburg, Sweden, but has gained momentum as technology developed at speed. What is MaaS? At the simplest level, it integrates various modes of transport into one single digital on-demand mobility platform, where users can plan, book and pay for their journey, whatever the mode of transportation.

Software as a service

SaaS (software as a service) is around us constantly, making software more affordable, accessible, and efficient. Google Workplace is commonly used for offices, and Google Classroom is ubiquitous in schools. Instead of installing and maintaining software on local servers, companies can access the applications they need through a web browser. It is not stored on the device but can be accessed anytime.

Transit agencies do not need to pay for their own installation or management of software. Kuba provides a shared managed service stored in the cloud for which agencies pay a subscription. They do not need to pay the total price, just a share, and benefit from any fixes and maintenance required, which are pushed out to all customers. They can also have access to new features within a constantly evolving platform.

At Kuba, we take security very seriously and adhere to a voluntary code, ISO 27001, for the protection of data, which follows a set standard for security and is audited.

The SaaS part of the system gives the agency access to rich rider data, which would not be possible with closed ticket systems. All the fare collection information is held in the back office in an easy-to-access digital account. The data gives the agencies important data about passenger demand, which informs pricing and capacity allowance changes, making routes more cost-effective and meeting the actual needs of riders.

ABT – Account-based ticketing.

More and more public transit providers are moving towards account-based Ticketing (ABT), away from traditional closed ticket systems. This move offers many benefits to both riders and agencies.

Benefits of ABT for riders 

For riders, ABT equals convenience and time-saving. There is no need to purchase a ticket before boarding as there is the flexibility to use a smartphone, contactless card or other forms of ID to pay. Charging a card or adding cash is unnecessary to ensure you have sufficient funds to pay for your ticket—no need to worry about losing your travel card or forgetting it at home. You can easily manage your account online or through a mobile app.

Riders do not need to understand complex fare and zone systems as they use their preferred fare payment upon boarding. The system handles this, and fares are calculated and payment processed in a back office. Agencies can offer dynamic pricing with special off-peak fares or offers to make public transit more affordable. Ticketing can be provided seamlessly across agencies, modes of transport and systems, ensuring simplicity for riders.

ABT helps to reduce congestion and improve the efficiency of public transportation. By streamlining the payment process and reducing the need for physical tickets, account-based ticketing makes it easier and more convenient for people to use public transit, leading to more people choosing to take public transit instead of driving their cars.

Benefits of ABT for agencies

For agencies, again, there are clear benefits in adopting ABT. Increasing revenue is essential for agencies to continue offering and developing services. ABT increases revenue by reducing the costs of issuing paper tickets and smartcards and handling and processing cash. ABT also reduces fare evasion. Riders are identified by account rather than ticket, making bypassing fare payment harder.

Another benefit is that account-based ticketing can help reduce fraud. With traditional paper tickets, there is always a risk of counterfeiting or reuse. However, with account-based ticketing, each transaction is recorded and linked to a specific account, making it more difficult for fraudulent activity to occur.

Overall, Account-Based Ticketing offers riders a more convenient, efficient, and user-friendly experience while providing transportation agencies with valuable insights and tools to improve their services.

Win-win for all

Without riders being aware of all these innovations, they can reap the benefits of a more affordable transit system, which runs more efficiently and on time and offers the modes of transit and services they require when and where they need them.

The benefits of a more efficient transit system go beyond just convenience. It also helps the environment by reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. With fewer cars on the road, the air quality improves significantly.

Moreover, an improved transit system has made accessing job opportunities and essential services easier. It has opened up more opportunities for people to travel to different parts of cities, allowing them to save money on transportation costs and improve their quality of life.

Kuba understands operators’ and riders’ needs; we create innovative solutions and use cutting-edge technology to meet those needs most effectively.

Today, Kuba offers complete mobility solutions for transit operators and agencies using the most up-to-date technology to enable commuters and riders to have seamless, end-to-end journeys.

Originally published in Mass Transit Magazine