What is account based ticketing and what are the benefits?

A new and smarter way of travelling

What is account based ticketing

Ticketless Ticketing

Account Based Ticketing (ABT) is a new type of ticketing that allows smarter and ticketless travelling for the public. This type of ticketing is carried out by tapping or scanning a secure token on the readers within a station. These tokens, which include bank cards, smart cards, mobiles for example, are linked to an account in the back end which logs the journey the passenger takes. By tracking the location and the number of taps made with the token, software can calculate the correct fare for the passenger and the correct transaction is made at the end of the day once the journeys are completed.

ABT provides more freedom when travelling as riders can purchase and validate their ticket choosing their preferred method. Passengers also benefit for the best fare that fits their travel that day as the software will consider if you have travelled a distance that would classify for a day ticket on the underground for example.

The Evolution of Account Based Ticketing

Due to ongoing advances in technology, internet services, smartphone abilities and card technology have evolved to provide a massive platform for the transport and ticketing markets. It has allowed transport providers to develop and launch new, flexible ticketing systems that enable the user to travel without purchasing a ticket beforehand. As most of the population now always carry a phone or a contactless card on them, public transport has become a lot more accessible, flexible and easier to use. This compares to having to purchase a physical travel ticket prior to use.

This new way of travelling helps the transport providers move away from older closed ticket systems involving paper tickets, magstripe tickets and cash payments and therefore allows them to provide a more seamless approach to travelling. Unlike physical tickets, ABT removes certain elements of using public transport including lining up to purchase a ticket, ticket loss and topping up of travel and smartcards.

Overall, the level of complexity around travelling decreases and becomes more efficient for both the provider and the user as costs aren’t considered until the journey is over and is therefore more accurate. It is also a more effective approach with regards to train cancellation as tickets haven’t been purchased, therefore refunds don’t need to be made and the passenger can easily catch the next train or bus that is needed.


Key benefits that make ABT the future of transit ticketing

Improved rider experiences

Passengers no longer need to buy a ticket as they can travel simply by tapping a secure token, such as a contactless card or phone, on a reader in a station or on a bus for example. This takes the complexity out of using public transport.

Reduced costs and best possible fare

Due to a reduction in cash handling and misunderstanding of fares. It also allows agencies to reduce costs through a reduction in physical tickets and physical ticket production, cash handling and physical infrastructure costs.
As the journeys are linked to the user’s account in the back end, agencies can implement rules enabling best-priced fares for riders that will cap your fare and find you the best cost option for the journeys you have made. This takes the confusion away for passengers as they will only be charged for the journeys they do and the best fares to match this.

Multiple token optionality

ABT can be carried out in many ways and therefore gives the user the option to travel using their preferred method whether that be through a barcode on a phone, tapping a contactless card or a smartcard. This makes the service readily available and accessible to all.

Fare optionality and flexible transfers

As ABT is all digital and the data is sent to software in the back end, it enables the quick implementation of transfer rules for different modes of transit. This means passengers are limited to where they can travel and what mode of transport they use, whilst also considering discounted fares when continuing journeys from trains and tubes to buses.


What you can use:

  • Contactless bank cards, or Contactless EMV (cEMV) are the easiest way to use ABT as most people will always carry a bank card on them at all times and they are much faster to use than a phone or a mobile cEMV such as Apple Pay
  • Smartphones: The easiest way to enable a mobile phone to work as a token is via a barcode. This is also a popular choice as barcodes work across all smartphones.
  • Smartcard: Smartcards are an option used by those who may not have a mobile or contactless bank card. Concessions and entitlements for certain users can also be linked to these smartcards.
  • Mobile cEMV: Apple Pay and Google Pay can be used to access ABT services.
  • Paper Barcode: Paper tickets can still be used in the form of a barcode; however, they are limited to single use.