Comparison of Profitability and Quality of Ticket Vending Machines: Benchmarking and “Best Practices” in Public Transport

Not only are ticket vending machines printing on paper, they are true high tech devices today. New possibilities result from increasing customer demands regarding different payment options, increasing fare types and remote maintenance and diagnosis. This means that ticket vending machines become complex devices causing high acquisition costs as well as high running and maintenance costs.

BSL Transportation Consultants were commissioned by three large public transport operating companies (from cities with more than 0.5m inhabitants) to carry out a comparative analysis regarding ticket sales engineering and maintenance of ticket vending machines and their profitability and quality. Together with the transport companies, we have developed a standardise benchmarking procedure. Apart from figures of the controlling department, we also conducted extensive interviews and on-site process documentation. Furthermore, we arranged joint workshops and on-site visits for every participating transport company.

Clear objectives regarding the benchmarking project

First of all, we clearly defined the project scope which was comparable between all participants. Together with our data experts, BSL Transportation agreed on framework, finance and performance parameters and carried out plausibility checks.

Then data was collected using a standardised questionnaire which also allowed enough freedom for individual company aspects. In order to ensure the comparability certain special effects were adjusted accordingly. For example, we needed to take into consideration that the maintenance workshop of one transport company also looked after the sales engineering of an associated ferry company. This meant a not quite unintended side effect of this in-depth data collection, as the project managers have realised that they have valuable data at their disposal which they can benefit from.

It all depends on the process

In addition to the number-based data collection, our consultants conducted interviews and process documentation. Here we examined the maintenance workshops’ organisation as well as process workflows of field staff. Particularly, the interaction between disposition and field staff is an important factor in regards to different levels of productivity. However, to come to these and other conclusions, it is mandatory to do fieldwork.

Conclusions and measures for improvement in close cooperation

All results were collected during workshops. Here, benchmarking results regarding revenue, costs, productivity and quality of ticket vending machines were being discussed in great detail. For our comparison, structural differences (like differences in the tariff network’s size) were taken into account by using BSL’s proven harmonisation method. This allowed for a “fair comparison”. This quantitative review was completed by a qualitative report from on-site visits. Results from these assessments were being discussed by all parties involved and reasons and explanations for the positioning within our benchmark comparison were found.

Found best practices were then part of our company-individual recommendations for action which were part of the project documentation. This documentation also included profiles for each measure. Each participating TOC received specific and easily feasible recommendations for improvement regarding the management and maintenance of ticket vending machines.

08. April 2019