One Ticket + Many Forms of Transport = Bliss

The European Commission calls it ‘multimodal intercity travel’. We’d call it ‘having one ticket for your entire journey even though it might include planes, trains, buses and taxis.

OK. So their description is probably shorter but will it become reality? Well, it’s getting closer. Apparently, the European Commission ‘has been focusing on multimodal intercity travel over the past decade’.

This has included ‘establishing the framework for a European multimodal transport information, management and payment system by 2020 as one of 10 goals for achieving a competitive transport system’. Who knew?

But it would be very useful if it came off. Imagine leaving home with just one ticket –  or your mobile phone – and completing your entire door-to-door journey using that one ticket? TfL’s Oystercard system allows you to do that in London, jumping from train, to bus to tram, but that system only works in the capital and has yet to be extended to other areas in Britain.

The technology then, is definitely there but what’s missing is the willingness by the transport service providers to work together. Conflicts of interest will always emerge of course, and the current discounting system would tax even the most sophisticated of technology (we defy a robot to work out the cheapest journey leaving on a peak hour weekday and returning on a bank holiday).

Other countries are getting there though. Sweden’s government-owned passenger train operator, SJ, works with taxi companies to enable booking a full rail and cab journey in one go. But Japan is so far furthest ahead when it comes to integrated travel. JR East, one of Japan’s largest railway companies, introduced a rechargeable, contactless fare card as far back as 2001. While in 2004, NTT DoCoMo, a mobile phone provider, introduced a mobile wallet, which served as electronic money, member card, credit card and tickets for aeroplanes and events all in one.



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