Transport firm Go North East is rolling out the UK’s first mobile phone bus ticketing system, using a system developed with IT services business Atos Origin and mobile ticketing company Swiftpass.
Under the new txt2go system, customers of Go North East, which is the largest bus company in the North East, will be able to order a ticket by text message. After a passenger sends a text to a specific number, a 'ticket' code is sent to that passenger’s phone to show to the driver when they board a bus.
The system purports to enable passengers to buy a ticket while waiting for their bus to arrive, and avoiding the need for cash. Each ticket is locked to the handset it was ordered from so that it cannot be transferred to another phone, and it contains coded information that the company said would reduce forgery.
Charges are taken from customer accounts on the Go North East website. Passengers can use a debit or credit card to load money onto an account before they use the text system.
Go North East said it was also considering installing bar-code scanners on its buses to read barcode versions of the 'ticket' texts and replace verification by drivers.
But the company’s commercial director, Martin Harris, said the firm first wanted “to find out whether passengers feel comfortable with this method of buying tickets.” He said the system “speeds up the time it takes people to board our buses and helps us run a smooth, efficient service”.