From 7 January 2008, bus passengers travelling with bus operator, Go North East will be the first in the country to be able to order and receive their bus tickets by mobile phone.
The service has been developed by Go North East in partnership with international IT services company, Atos Origin and mobile ticketing specialists, Swiftpass.
Called txt2go, passengers will be able to receive a digital ticket direct to their mobile phone just minutes after ordering it by text. The phone screen displaying the ticket information is then shown to the driver as the passenger gets on the bus.
The cashless, paperless ticket can be ordered any time, anywhere by sending a simple text to 60060 and is so fast tickets can even be bought while waiting for your bus to arrive.
Tickets received digitally remove the need to carry cash, making it safe and dependable for passengers and improving security on buses by reducing the amount of money carried by the driver.
The new tickets are also very secure with each one locked to the handset it was ordered from so they cannot be transferred to another phone. Coded information within the digital ticket will also reduce attempts at forgery.
To use txt2go, customers first set up an on-line account using Go North East¹s secure website. Money is then added to the account using a debit or credit card and the cost of each txt2go ticket will then automatically be taken from the account.
The account can be kept topped up either through the online account, by text to the txt2go 60060 number or the account can be set up to automatically top up when funds reach a certain level.
When txt2go is introduced, customers will be able to buy single and day tickets for adults and children, but more ticket choices and even more advanced ticketing could be introduced if the scheme proves popular with passengers, including bar-code scanners on buses.
Martin Harris, Commercial Director with Go North East said, "This is an exciting step forward in making bus travel even more convenient and we want to find out whether passengers feel comfortable with this method of buying tickets. As people come to rely more and more on communicating by mobile phone and computer, it is the ideal way to offer tickets for bus travel. Buying tickets in advance speeds up the time it takes people to board our buses and helps us run a smooth, efficient service."
The technology implementation, led by Atos Origin, is the first UK roll-out of the Mobile Payment Solution developed by Atos Worldline, an Atos Origin company and major European player in the processing of high-volume electronic transactions, and the Swiftpass ticketing service. The solution allows Go North East to capitalise on the ubiquity of the mobile phone by providing an interface that turns the device into a secure, convenient and easy-to-use payment method.
Tony Lacy, Head of Bus and Rail at Atos Origin said, "We are delighted to see Go North East embracing technology to improve the passenger experience and their own operational efficiency. Mobile technology now offers a competitively priced alternative to paper tickets, whether it be for travel, cinema, theatre or a night club."
Jeff Berry, Managing Director of UK-based Swiftpass said, "The concept of sending digital tickets to mobile phones is not new, however the high cost of billing through mobile phone operators in the UK up to 40% of the transaction has been a significant barrier to it being adopted on a large scale.
"To make this available to people requires partnership between forward thinking organisations like Go North East, Atos Origin and Swiftpass. Together we can create a total end to end solution for the customer."