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Germany

Introducing the Ultimate in Ticketless Travel

Have you ever been stuck waiting in line to buy a ticket for the bus or tram? In Berlin, the waiting may soon be outdated as the city tests a cell phone system which allows people to just dial up and go.

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Dial up for a bus ticket

Berlin’s public transport authority, the BVG, has joined up with telecommunications provider E-Plus to field test a system which allows passengers the chance to buy and receive tickets through their mobile phones.

The offer currently only applies to full-price single tickets, which are valid for two hours, and to single-day tickets, and is limited to the two innermost transportation zones. The electronic function is also only available to customers who have a full contract with E-Plus. “Free-and-easy” contracts, where the telephone is topped up by buying a new card, are not eligible.

The BVG says that the pilot project will be extended to other mobile phone providers if it proves a success.

TELEPAY project covers a number of countries

The Berlin field test is part of a wider European Union project called TELEPAY, which so far also involves various transport and telecom providers in France, Italy and Finland, as well as the electronics manufacturers Ertico and Siemens. Berlin is the first city in Germany to take part in the project.

TELEPAY is designed so that the customer simply sends a text message (SMS) to a particular telephone number, depending on the sort of ticket he or she wants to buy. He or she will then receive an answering text message in return which is actually the ticket purchased. If the customer has to show the ticket to a bus driver, they just display the text message of the mobile phone’s screen, which is recognized as proof of the ticket purchase.

At the end of the month, the cost of the ticket appears on the customer’s mobile phone bill.

The pilot project, which runs until the end of the month, is intended to test the system’s technical functions – for example, the time it takes to get a ticket, or whether it is correctly billed.

But it will be also assessing human factors such as whether train guards and bus drivers can deal with the new type of ticket – let alone the customers