Easily become a fare dodger

21 Sep 2015 0 Comments , , Estimated reading time: 4 minutes read

Two weeks ago, I held a ses­sion at #UXCGN16 which took Michael Schrage’s idea »Who Do You Want Your Cus­tom­ers to Become?« into account. So I asked myself in which case I have the impres­sion that this ques­tion could be applied. And I ended up with trav­el­ing with the Cologne pub­lic trans­port­a­tion net­work Köl­ner Verkehrs Betriebe. They give me the impres­sion, that they want me to become a fare dodger. 

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I have recently star­ted to travel occa­sion­ally with them — mostly because of a bike acci­dent at the end of may. Most of the times, I travel short trips with 3–5 tram stops. Even though I’d prefer to use anoth­er means of trans­port­a­tion, I have to use the tram when walk­ing is not an option (because I’m to late or my des­tin­a­tion is too far away or just because it rains). But in Cologne there’s one big pain in the ass: pay­ing the trans­port­a­tion fare. 

There are sev­er­al options to pay the fare, but none of them works well. Espe­cially as the tick­et sys­tem is quite com­plic­ated. The first option are vendor machines at some tram stops. Those vend­ing machines sell prac­tic­ally any tick­et you would need. You can pay with coins and even ec card — notes don’t work. And it takes quite some time to buy the tick­et. Don’t get me wrong: though the fare sys­tem is quite com­plic­ated, the on screen pro­cess works quite well. Until you have to pay. Have you ever had more than 12 Euros in coins? 

In all trams, you can find oth­er vend­ing machines, that only accept coins and Geldkarte (for which I don’t how I can get money on that crappy pay­ment thingy). But buy­ing a tick­et at this vend­ing machine still takes heaps of time. 

Next option is their tick­et­ing app Handytick­et. And this app is the worst. It always needs inter­net con­nec­tion — which is crazy when you are in an under­ground tram. There is some con­nec­tion but as all cal­cu­la­tions of fares seem to hap­pen serv­er side it just takes time. As I don’t travel very long dis­tances, it usu­ally takes me more time to buy the tick­et than to travel. But wait, you have to buy the tick­et before enter­ing the tram. Crap. So if the tram is just at the sta­tion, they would want you to wait for the next one (if you wanted to pur­chase a val­id tick­et). Great service. 

The tick­et­ing sys­tem is designed that poorly, that I would call it designed in order to get their trav­el­lers to become fare dodgers. 

Could they do bet­ter. Yes, for sure. Just have a look at tick­et­ing sys­tems like Mel­bourne’s myki or Sydney’s opal. Tap on when enter­ing, tap off when leav­ing. Damn simple. 

Update 04/10/2015: Two years ago I stumbled upon a pro­ject Mas­ter­Card and the New York/New Jer­sey Trans­port­a­tion com­pan­ies from 2010 where they used Mas­ter­Cards Pay­Pass fea­ture as a tick­et. So no extra device was needed. Thanks two Face­book’s memor­ies func­tion I found it again.

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