No sorting through fare schedules for the best price. No paper tickets. No fixed train. And most of all, no hassle. Upon entering a train, a Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) sensor registers the passenger’s smartphone, and at the end of the journey the passenger is again checked out automatically. All of this is hands-free, of course. The IT landscape operating in the background determines the best-possible price for the journey. What sounded like a scenario for the future just a few years ago has indeed become reality. Since the end of 2014, Swiss South Eastern Railway (SOB) has been operating a Be-in/Be-out (BiBo) ticketing system as a pilot on the Pre-Alpine Express between St. Gallen and Lucerne.
“Rail passengers don’t have to choose in advance which ticket to buy for their journey, because with this system the best-possible price is determined after travel is completed,” explains Thomas Küchler, Managing Director of Swiss South Eastern Railway. “The only requirement is a smartphone.” Passengers are ensured the optimal price, as previous uses of public transport are subsequently considered and an overall best price is calculated. This feature is a boon to occasional users of public transport. The optimization can take place over a period of time, such as a day, week or month. Traditional systems require the passenger to choose a day, week or month pass in advance – mostly with a dreadfully complex fare system.
For passengers and SOB, the pilot proved a success, and at the end of 2015 the rail company commissioned Siemens to develop, implement and operate a customer-oriented mobility platform for SOB’s entire network. The next milestone is the extension of the BiBo pilot to cover the rest of the SOB’s network with an initial set of functions going live by the end of 2016 and more to follow in mid-2017.