Rail transport provider Hitachi Rail is testing prototype technology in a smart ticket trial which could see ticker barriers in stations phased out entirely.
The ‘sensor beacon’ technology features smart sensors installed in trains which automatically detect the presence of an app on passengers’ mobile phones – with no need to remove the phones from pockets or handbags – as they board. It is currently undergoing proof of concept testing in Trento, Italy, on transport operated by local service provider Trenito Transporti: if the smart ticket trial is a success, Hitachi aims to bring its sensor beacon technology to buses, trams and trains in the UK.
Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail, said: “This technology has the ability to transform public transport in every corner of the country, from rural buses to city centre train stations. The common travelling woes of queues at ticket machines or trying to find the cheapest fare could be solved without even needing to reach for your pocket. We are now beginning to test this technology and looking at the possibility of one app working across large stretches of a country. For example, a passenger could use the app to take a bus in their local town and a train elsewhere in the country all in one day. This technology could have potential to make public transport more accessible for all passengers. We believe this would also be good news for operators, who can entice more people to use public transport thanks to this simple to use payment method.”
Hitachi expects its smart ticket trial to demonstrate the benefits of sensor beacon technology in comparison to traditional ticketing protocols: removing the need to show a physical ticket when boarding or leaving public transport is projected to reduce queuing times, encourage wider use of buses over cars; and improving accessibility for disabled passengers and those with young children.