The cross-state Schwabenbund e.V. is an association of regional authorities, chambers of commerce and other institutions from the Allgäu to the Swabian Alb in southern Germany. It was founded in March 2012 and became a registered association in January 2015. The Schwabenbund is active in the fields of healthcare, mobility, rural areas, tourism, education and the safeguarding of skilled workers.
One project in the field of mobility was the creation of a multi-provider sales system for e-tickets. Schwabenbund-Services (SBS) GmbH was founded in 2018 as the operating company for the new system.
The aim was to enable passengers of the two regional transport associations, Mobilitätsgesellschaft für den Nahverkehr im Allgäu (mona) and Verkehrsverbund Mittelschwaben (VVM) with a total of 24 participating transport companies to buy any public transport fare product via a digital sales platform – a web shop or a smartphone app. To simplify the mutual allocation of services, revenue management also needed to be put on a uniform basis. This had previously been carried out independently by the participating companies, in some cases using Excel.
Together with other consortium partners, highQ succeeded in winning an EU-wide tender for the development of the new sales platform. highQ’s task within the consortium was to set up a backend system and create a web shop for the end customers (subscribers/students), as well as for the service employees of the participating transport companies. A further web shop and a smartphone ticketing solution for occasional customers also needed to be integrated into the overall system.
The highQ solution
The central backend system is based on the highQ products TicketOffice and fare.logiQ. The two web shops for subscribers have also been integrated. Via the end-customer web shop, passengers have direct access to their subscriptions and can, for example, view their invoices or order a replacement ticket if one is lost. The second highQ web shop is intended for the service staff of the two transport associations and offers more extensive options for data viewing and processing, such as creating new customers, issuing tickets or generating replacement tickets.
Both the web shop for occasional passengers and the mobile phone ticketing service also exchange data with the highQ backend system. In this way, customers are able to use the smartphone app to buy single tickets as well as being able to view their existing subscriptions. All sales data from the three web shops converge in TicketOffice and are transferred from there to the highQ accounting system fare.logiQ via the manufacturer-independent standard interface (HUSST).
A further central highQ software module called NPS (abbr. of the German for “User Profile Service”) enables the differentiated administration of customer data. Regardless of which public transport company they are using, passengers only have to register once to be able to use all mobility services within the Schwabenbund region (single sign-on). Ticket purchases are automatically assigned to the tariff area of the respective provider.
Even though customer and revenue data are managed together, the multi-client capability of TicketOffice/fare.logiQ ensures that each provider is only able to access to its own area. At the same time, central data management enables line-specific distribution and accounting of the travel services provided. On top of that, client-specific statistical evaluations and reports can be generated by a business intelligence tool integrated into fare.logiQ.
Advantages of the implemented solution
For the first time, the sales platform created by highQ and its consortium partners enables digital travel permits to be issued for all participating transport companies in the Schwabenbund region. The multi-client-capable backend system ensures that each participating company retains complete control over its own data (and thus its customer base), despite the central database. Because the wider network structure involved numerous independent companies, this was a central requirement of the contracting body.
Public transport users also benefit from the “Unity in Diversity”. Passengers no longer need to bother about which provider they use to complete their desired journeys – they simply access the web shop and order their e-tickets. Electronic subscriptions are currently issued in the form of 2D barcodes in accordance with the regulations of the German Transport Association (VDV-KA) – either printed on paper, applied to plastic cards or as smartphone tickets.
The entire system conforms to the nationwide eTicket Deutschland (VDV-KA) standard, which means that this digital service can be flexibly extended at any time – such as by introducing a network-wide e-ticket or tourist fare offers combined with admission entitlements. The system is also ideally configured to enable interoperability with neighbouring transport associations or the integration of other mobility services, such as car and bike sharing. In this way, the sales platform can be progressively expanded into a universal mobility platform for the entire region.
The customer’s perspective
With a total budget of EUR 3 million (highQ share EUR 1.2 million), the project was implemented on schedule in close cooperation with the consortium partners involved. “The collaboration with highQ ran efficiently, on an equal footing and brought a high degree of added value for the entire consortium”, commented Marius Maruhn, Managing Director of Schwabenbund-Services (SBS) GmbH. “With its differentiated customer administration, the new multi-client-capable e-ticketing platform is precisely the solution we wanted for our diverse transport region. As a result, we are now optimally prepared for the digital demands of future mobility.”