Go-Ahead Group Plc

In partnership with ACT, Go-Ahead group has created “the key”, one of the UK’s largest and most successful commercial smart card schemes. This delivers a range of benefits for Go-Ahead and its passengers, from highly efficient smart ticketing management, to increased passenger convenience, value and loyalty.

With the key, Go-Ahead Group has broken new ground in smart ticketing. The scheme is one of the biggest anywhere in the UK – supporting millions of passengers and journeys a week. It is also one of the most sophisticated smart card schemes ever created in the UK, with a wide range of features and ticket types that deliver new value for passengers.

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A train at a platform

Delivering Ticketing on a National Scale

The key demonstrates how smart ticketing can be delivered and managed effectively on a national scale. The scheme supports three of Go-Ahead’s rail businesses and nine bus operating companies around the country, with over 500,000 active smart card users for bus services, and over 250,000 for trains.

Transactional data relating to every single smart card journey is processed and recorded, allowing Go-Ahead to report on ridership across the country and ensure that passengers are billed correctly. These functions are delivered by the central ACT smart ticketing platform, which processes over 50 million bus journeys and over 7 million train journeys for Go-Ahead Group every year.

ACT’s enterprise platform helps Go-Ahead to manage large numbers of smart cards and passenger accounts across the country. Dennis Williamson, Group Retail Solutions Manager (Bus), Go-Ahead Group, says, “We issue around 8,000 new smart cards a month across our bus and rail services. ACT helps us to maximise our operating efficiency by making the process as fast, efficient and automated as possible.”

Enhancing the Passenger Experience

ACT technologies that support the key allow passengers to buy their tickets however and whenever they want to, with no need to queue at the station or on the bus. “Passengers can renew and top up their tickets online or on our mobile site with no need to queue, no need to buy a new ticket for each journey, and – in the case of bus passengers – with no need to keep the correct change for the bus fare,” says Dennis.

The key also speeds up travel for passengers, who can tap their smart card on the station gate or in-bus smart card reader to begin their journeys. “With no need for manual boarding checks or other interventions we can minimise queuing times and delays for our passengers,” Dennis adds. “This helps us keep everything running smoothly, especially in high-traffic areas – improving the travel experience immeasurably.”

Innovating to Maximise Passenger Value

Together, Go-Ahead Group and ACT are constantly innovating the key to deliver great customer experiences.

Sean McLaughlin, Group Retail Solutions Manager (Rail), Go-Ahead Group, says, “We have worked with ACT to develop a sophisticated, highly convenient pay-as- you-go ticketing solution for our customers that bills them accurately based on their journey start and end-points. We have also created flexible “smart-carnet” season tickets that offer big savings for passengers who don’t have a regular travel schedule.”

In addition to these innovations, Go-Ahead Group has worked with ACT to develop a new, award-winning, automated delay repay solution. “If a service is running late, the solution alerts smart card passengers that they may be eligible for a refund,” says Sean. “They can then open a prepopulated form, check that the details are correct, and submit it for processing, all in a minute or two.”

By delivering these and other smart- ticketing innovations that increase flexibility, convenience and value for customers, Go-Ahead Group is boosting customer loyalty and overall competitive advantage. “With more ticket options and better value for customers, we are giving passengers even more reasons to travel with us, and ACT is playing a key role in that success.”

Strategic Partnership for Smart Ticketing Success

The strategic partnership between Go-Ahead Group and ACT is at the heart of the operator’s smart ticketing success.

“ACT are exceptionally efficient in managing change requests’, says Sean. “We get constant support to achieve our business goals, whether development to support interoperability smart ticketing projects, or creating a new kind of ticket for passengers.”

All of these factors mean that ACT is far more than a project-by-project supplier for Go-Ahead Group. “The ACT team are not just ITSO experts, although they certainly are that. They also think in terms of continual service improvements and what’s coming next; they are continuously innovating, which is a perfect fit with our own innovation agenda,” says Sean. “We aim to stay at the forefront of everything smart ticketing can offer our passengers, and ACT is helping us to achieve it.”

Key facts
Go-Ahead Group has created one of the UK’s largest and most successful smart card schemes, the key, in partnership with ACT.

The key supports several million smart card enabled bus and train journeys every week.

Passengers can buy smart card tickets online, on mobile, or at ticket terminals or travel shops.

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