Local Transport Authorities: Managing a multi-operator ticketing scheme

According to the National Bus Strategy, 75% of regions currently have multi-operator ticketing schemes, however the take up of these products by the public has often been low.

A key theme of the National Bus Strategy is for LTAs to encourage multi-operator ticketing, whether that’s through the introduction of new schemes, or improving existing ones. The potential benefits are clear: increased passenger satisfaction through making bus travel more flexible, convenient and cost effective for the passenger.  This improved flexibility also encourages greater usage of bus services and a corresponding reduction in carbon emissions.

Scheme administrators will be tasked with setting up the scheme, collating operators’ data on a periodic basis and allocating revenue to operators. They will need to ensure that the sales revenue data from all sources (on-bus, ticket vending machines, travel shops, etc.) as well as passenger numbers are correct so that operators receive accurate amounts of reimbursement.

Streamline processes to increase efficiency

Often multi-operator ticketing schemes are managed manually, which are extremely time intensive and prone to errors. Scheme administrators are reliant on operators providing manual returns, which are then processed centrally. In addition to this, the calculations that underpin operator reimbursement are usually performed through a series of spreadsheets compiled by the scheme administrator.

Due to the size and complexity of these spreadsheets, they can often become difficult to maintain, particularly with the addition of new products or operators.

Software is needed to streamline this sharing of data between operators and LTAs. Automation tools can enable the transfer of ticket machine data to a central database. This approach avoids the use of large complex spreadsheets and enables the administrator to analyse the data and produce reports to facilitate the distribution of revenue to operators.

Ensure operators’ payments are accurate

As well as being time-consuming, manual inputting of data can lead to inaccurate data. This can have a significant impact on the other operators in the scheme, as it means they will receive less than their entitlement.

Data automation prevents this from happening and ensures a greater level of accuracy, which means users can spend more time understanding and analysing the figures, instead of manually inputting data.  It also provides a clear audit trail, to provide assurance to all of the scheme’s stakeholders.

Software tools can obtain transactional data for all multi-operator ticket sales and usages, which in most cases removes the requirement for survey data – improving accuracy and reducing costs. For those schemes that require average fare data, software can be configured to calculate this for onward submission to the administrator.

Software can also be set up to only send the multi-operator product transactions to the administrator, providing comfort to the operator that their commercial data is not shared.

Conduct commercial analysis for BSIP reporting

Software solutions offer a complete dataset of transactions, which can be utilised to better understand patronage trends and multi-operator product development. As part of the Bus Service Improvement Plans, LTAs will need access to this data to conduct commercial analysis and demonstrate that the enhancements to multi-operator ticketing have been effective.

Undertake an independent audit to offer assurance

With all the complexities of running a multi-operator scheme, stakeholders need to be assured that participants are receiving correct payments. Independent auditors can provide this assurance by undertaking a year end audit of the scheme. This involves analysing ticket machine data to ensure that all revenue and passenger numbers can be reconciled to the operator declarations. Further audit tests are also performed on other data sources that form part of the scheme, such as travel shops and online ticket sales. Once confirmed, the internal processes and calculations are reviewed to ensure that the scheme rules have been followed and that operators have been reimbursed appropriately.

How EPM can help

With over 30 years’ experience in software and consultancy services, EPM has a comprehensive knowledge of multi-operator ticketing schemes – from streamlining operational processes, to auditing data, and acting as the scheme’s independent referee. We’ll help to ensure that all participants in the scheme get what they are due and implement processes to provide greater day-to-day assurance. To book a free consultation to see how we can assist with your challenges and requirements, complete the online form, or call 01527 556940.

Ready to take your bus network to the next level?

Get in touch to build a tailored solution today