Annex 8 Multiple Operators and Common Ticketing

Common Smartcard Ticketing

One FAQ on HCBRT relates to the number of operators. This in turn often relates to the question of bus fares and revenue.

This Toolkit strongly recommends that an HCBRT system should operate with off-board, contactless smartcards, as the efficiency gain in loading times and running speeds is greatly increased. This also makes the system similar to a modern Metro. However, authorities and the industry often fail to understand that once a common smartcard is used, then all revenue will pass to the company that markets the cards, thus ‘ownership’ of passengers, certain routes or areas simply ceases to be an issue.

The most common form of operator payment then is ‘paid-by-the-kilometre’, as the operating companies are paid by effective run-out kilometrage by bus type. Therefore, in theory, there is no limit to the number of companies operating the system – provided that timetabling is centralized and all operators use the same standard units and colours.

The most extreme example of this is in Guayaquil, where the system is operated by a cooperative of individual bus owners, who have an identified stake (under Ecuadorian law) in specific units, but ‘pool’ the modern 18m articulated units into a single operating entity. Despite some ‘teething’ problems related to old habits, this unique system delivers a high-quality service.

More common is the leasing of certain corridors to specific companies, each with its own garage and maintenance facilities and staff. The question of how to handle existing stakeholders is critical, however: in Bogotá, the new operating companies reserve, by law, about 40% of their shares for small existing bus owners who will lose custom to the new system. This principle was ignored in Santiago, Chile, a factor which contributed to the overall failure of the Transantiago system.

The fate of existing transport operators when a Mass Transit system is introduced is a very legitimate concern – although this issue is normally only raised in relation to BRT and not when other rail-based mass transit schemes are planned. Working solutions have been, as mentioned, the incorporation of owner/operators as minority stakeholders in the new company, thus with a legitimate and vested interest in seeing the system work and as owner/operators of feeder services to trunk route terminals. This can be in the form of existing mini-bus terminals (Jakarta), or the provision of private and non-integrated services at special platforms, as shown in the example below in Bogotá.


Figure 1 Para-Transit Integration at a Major Bogota Terminal

It should be noted that there will be auxiliary and feeder services on corridors – especially at terminals – that will use conventional bus units that can be operated by owner/drivers.

To give an idea of scale, data for the Metrobus System in Quito is shown in the table below:

Table 1 Number of Metrobus Units Operating on Trunk/Feeder Routes in Quito

Route Articulated Units on Trunk Route Other Units on Feeder Routes
Green 113 99
Red 42 36
Blue 84 410
Total 239 545

The points to be noted are that with a common ticketing system:

  • Many ‘turf’ conflicts are eliminated;
  • It helps to have a single company or consortium operating the sale, marketing and collection and distribution of revenue;
  • Normally this company will include a strong financial component, which can handle sales (such as a bank or mobile phone operator); and
  • The number of operators can be unlimited (if pooled as shareholders), thus minimizing the social question of substituting existing bus owners.
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Without Common Ticketing

Building a BRT system with no common ticketing can be a major problem, as all integration with other modes or operators is lost. The passenger essentially pays for each segment of the trip rather than for the entire trip. The effect is often to force passengers to make long, indirect journeys through the most congested areas to avoid paying an extra fare or to wait for long periods in crowded downtown terminals or platforms.

HCBRT can operate in such conditions if other, exiting minibus or jitney terminals are linked. This is how the Jakarta BRT system operates, the busways link existing major terminals, where passengers can change from the high-capacity mode to low-cost minibuses.

A similar situation exists in Tehran, however, as transport is heavily subsidized, the extra ticket does not represent a major penalty.

In summary:

  • Every city is a special and unique case.
  • The loss of full modal integration will affect the travel patterns of poorer passengers.
  • Depending on the level of subsidy, an HCBRT can link non-integrated terminals, however, this is not an option in medium-sized cities.
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