From October 2006, travellers in a number of locations throughout Germany will be able to buy their bus and train tickets using a mobile phone. The “pocket ticket machine” will eliminate the need to queue or have change to hand using simple software installed on the phones.
Siemens Business Services is implementing the necessary IT solution, which they will then operate for two years. Trial locations include Essen, Dresden, Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Nuremberg, Ulm, Wuppertal, and Vogtland.
As the same software will be used in all the cities taking part, someone in Nuremberg, for example, will be able to use their mobile to buy a bus ticket when visiting Hamburg. The entire project will be coordinated by the VDV (Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen), the Association of German Transport Companies. Siemens Business Services is cooperating with the Fraunhofer Institut Dresden in the development stage.
Passengers will use their phones to access the Internet and install the Java software used to book tickets. Ticket and journey details are then entered. The purchasing process will take a few seconds during which the details will be transmitted by GPRS to a central server. Anyone who frequently uses the same route will be able to save it as a favourite and will then be able to book their ticket even more quickly.
Confirmation of the purchase will appear once it has been completed, and the ticket will be saved on the phone. Journeys will be billed through a prepaid procedure, direct debit, or credit card. In addition, customers in the Rhine-Ruhr and Oberelbe linked transport systems will be able to book their ticket via SMS.
The residents of Vogtland have been successfully using the prototype of the current Siemens system since the beginning of 2004.