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Inventing a Better Ticketing Machine

The transit authority in Sweden’s southern region of Skåne wants to make the boarding process easier through tech.

ÅF Industry

Skånetrafiken, the transit authority in Sweden’s southern region of Skåne, wants to double its ridership by 2020. One part of the equation? Cooler ticketing machines.

As part of its “future of transit” initiative, the authority put out an open call for new design ideas in February in hopes that better machines will make for happier riders and more of them. Five design firms presented their ideas as finalists in Malmö last June. According to Skånetrafiken, the final goal is to choose the design of two different ticket machines; a small machine for quick purchases and a large machine that prints tickets and handles cash with a targeted roll out of fall 2018. The winning team will receive $35,000.

The teams were asked to design three types of machines: the mini being the smallest one, the midi which has a larger screen and a card reader, and the maxi which, unlike the others, would accept cash.

Vandalism has been the biggest problem with Skånetrafiken’s current fleet of ticket machines. According to Johan Karlberg, the transit authority’s business development project manager, they’ve had to take damaged machines out of service while reducing the number of machines that take cash, especially in unsupervised areas. Karlberg and his team want the new identity of the machines to be the archetype of a caregiver. “To prevent damage to the machines, the design should be likable, maybe even cute or fragile? You don’t kick something you like,” reads an internal document shared from Skånetrafiken.

Caption. (Skånetrafiken)

Responding to the problem, BlockZero has created three machines named them after three Swedish movie stars—Greta Garbo, Harriet Andersson and Ingrid Bergmann. Greta is the slowest machine and is aimed to best serve tourists and the elderly with kind phrasings and a patient demeanor. The Harriet machine is for occasional commuters. She’s more nimble, sounds younger, and is more charming, using phrases as “I want summer to go on just like this,” or “Some people always have good luck,” said by Andersson in her debut film, Summer with Monika. The fastest machine is Ingrid, who was designed for daily commuters. “Ingrid knows where you are going, the transaction will be quick and efficient,” says Ray Noori, BlockZero’s CEO.

Caption (Skånetrafiken)

Another design firm, ustwo from Malmö, has created an interface that keeps the ticket-buying process in the middle of the screen to reduce hand and eye movement across the screen. Meanwhile, Attention + Great Works from Copenhagen have developed two different machines, one for tourists and one for daily commuters, including a personalized travel and cloud-connected tokens. “The purchase flow on all machines is centered around simplicity and requires no more than four steps from start to completion,” says Christian Langballe, the COO of Great Works, Copenhagen.

ÅF Industry from Gothenburg proposes a flexible pricing model that allows traveling without having to pay for tickets before boarding. The Veryday firm from Stockholm is proposing a machine that provides on-board purchases and ticket validation. They’re also creating a ticket machine to serve customers in wheelchairs. “We want the machines to be available for everyone, so if you don’t have a card or mobile phone, it can provide a paper ticket,” says Andreas Walhberg, who is the product owner at Skånetrafiken.

But ticketless machines are the end goal. “Imagine that you can put your tickets on something you already have, like a bank card, a smart watch or a travel card,” says Karlberg. “Just ‘blip’ the machine, select your trip and confirm. And then off you go.”

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