You’ve probable heard about Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) Beacons being used to help the visually impared navigate on their own around public transport systems. This has been trialled in Bucharest on buses and in London Underground. These are examples of relevant information being pushed to users’ smart phones based upon their location. Other similar use cases might include telling passengers when they are approaching the stop at which they plan to get off, or telling them that their selected vehicle is about to arrive.
The use case I am more interested in is the one that allows passengers to travel without paying upfront and be charged afterward based on the journey that they took. We implemented this with TfL in London using contactless bank cards and it has become known as ‘Aggregated Pay As You Go’. This works well, but relies upon the passenger rembering to ‘tap in’ and ‘tap out’ to mark the end point of each leg of the journey in order that the back office can calculate the journey taken. Appropriate charges are made to the passenger’s bank card account at the end of the day.
Beacons could be used in implementations for this use case. Such a beacons trial is to be carried out in 2017 in West Yorkshire as part of the Transport for the North’s Integrated and Smart Travel (I&ST) programme.
The aim is to automatically determine the bus journey taken by the passenger and charge on a PAYG basis. Therefore, we need to know accurately where the passenger gets on and off the bus. This information will be determined by a smart phone app by interacting with beacons and sent to the back office where the charge is calculated and payment taken.
The trial, commissioned by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA), will be used to determine:
- whether the passenger experience is favourable;
- whether BLE technology can deliver sufficient location accuracy; and
- how the journey timestamp and location information sent to the back office in such a way that can be trusted and not open to fraud.