From the Initial Idea to the New Ticket: Introducing a New Standard Fare for Local Transport

Competition in rail passenger transport is a success story that is often told, especially in 2014 – the twentieth anniversary of the railway reform. It is also mentioned that there are still many problems in some areas associated with the special position of Deutsche Bahn AG. In addition to many questions relating to the infrastructure and the infrastructure access also the topics fares, sales and revenue sharing keep popping up.

These topics were also the trigger for a large-scale consulting project that BSL and other partners carried out for a regional rail transport authority. Essentially it concerned three questions:

1. How can a standard fare be ensured in regional rail transport without affecting the intended supplier diversity?
2. In the conflict area between competition and standardisation, how do ticket sales have to be organised?
3. How does the revenue sharing have to be designed technically and organisationally, so that it becomes comprehensible for all railway undertakings (RUs)?

Because of the wide range of tasks and the variety of stakeholders, project management had a high priority and ensured the rapid implementation of the project results. Thus, all the essential conceptual work was supported by corresponding working groups and a central steering committee, which were moderated by BSL. The coordination of the providers involved (including IT / software developers, sales service, market research, law firm) also required extensive work in project management concerning scheduling and capacity control.

Standard fare in regional rail transport

With the completion of the project the company-specific fares were replaced by a standard fare which ensures the passenger an easy access to regional rail transport on the territory of three federal states in Germany. Above that, the fare system was upgraded in some selected municipalities, where it became possible to use a regional rail ticket also for bus

services (“Interconnected Mobility”). Of course, the findings from market research surveys were also included in the design of the fare structure and the individual products.

For ticket sales, a concept was developed which will be implemented in the new transport contracts. A market/organisational model was designed in cooperation with the participants which contains as much entrepreneurial freedom for the RUs and as little central coordination as possible. Simultaneously first invitations to tender for central distribution channels were issued. BSL and its partners also assisted with their design (“specifications”) and provided support during the tendering period.

A fare association ensures transparent revenue sharing

A new procedure for the conflictual revenue sharing was designed and implemented in IT systems. With the new method, the allocation is primarily based on actual sales data. For this purpose, the tickets that indicate the route taken are evaluated and compared with the RU-specific timetables using a routing process. Beyond that, the RUs will have the opportunity to obtain extensive insight into the process.

These businesses-neutral tasks are ensured by a fare association in which both the RUs and the regional authorities take a share. A lean organisation structure provides a pragmatic and economic performance of tasks. The association was designed by BSL Transportation and a law firm.

For the customer-oriented communication, a marketing concept was developed which conveys the new fare structure and its benefits clearly and concisely. Prior to this, the participants prepared a communications strategy in which the (regional) transport companies and (regional) organisations keep their independence on the market and are hence responsible for the customer dialogue.

19. February 2016