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Registration not necessary: "BONNsmart" allows credit card payment on buses and trams

Registration not necessary : "BONNsmart" allows credit card payment on buses and trams

For those new to Bonn or even those who don’t use public transport very often, buying a ticket can be tricky. It is a complicated system. But a new scanning device should soon make it easier for everyone.

Who hasn't had this experience? You want to get from A to B using a public bus and stand in front of the ticket machine searching for the correct fare to choose. Soon, that scenario will be a thing of the past. On Thursday, NRW Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst presented the new contactless ticketing system "BONNsmart" for buses and trams of Bonn’s public transport system, run by Stadtwerke Bonn (SWB). Since Thursday, two lines have been equipped with the new system. Soon it will be found in 230 buses and 99 trams of the SWB.

"This is really something special," said Wüst, who came to the Bad Godesberg Stadthalle stop to present the new system. "Our ticket systems are complicated," he said. That has to change. He was thinking especially about occasional users. Anja Wenmakers, Managing Director of SWB Bus und Bahn and SWB Mobil, also sees the new system as a real benefit. "40 percent of Bonn's citizens are regular customers with us," she says. For the remaining 60 percent there will now be a simpler payment system.

Yet Bonn is not the first city to offer its passengers contactless payment in buses. In the district of Warendorf in the Münsterland region, this has been possible since the end of 2019. The system there works in such a way that the passenger tells the bus driver his or her destination and how often they want to travel that route. The bus driver determines the appropriate ticket, and the passenger can then pay with his or her debit or credit card or smartphone, says Astrid Herdering from RVM traffic management.

Registration is not necessary

SWB customers in Bonn have been able to pay by credit card since the end of 2019 (see "Paying by credit card"). But the new system goes a step further. Passengers simply have to hold their debit or credit card to the scanner in the bus when boarding and upon leaving. Prior registration is not necessary. The beginning and end of the trip are then transmitted (for payment) anonymously.

The software FareGo Suit from Scheidt&Bachmann processes the data and calculates the cheapest fare based on the 24-hour tariff. Reiner Brämer, SWB's head of sales, explained it this way: "The system remembers the time when a customer checks in for the first time. After 24 hours, the most favorable tariff is then calculated". If a customer makes about two trips for three euros each, it costs him six euros. If the customer makes several trips where the price of the one-way tickets is higher than the price of a day ticket, only one day ticket will be charged. This is to be calculated automatically. Whoever wants to take a bicycle on board, however, still has to buy an additional ticket from the ticket vending machine. If a passenger forgets to check out when leaving the bus or tram, the trip to the last stop of the line will be charged. " So I hope that people will also remember to scan when they leave. Otherwise it will be a little more expensive," said Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan, who was present at the introduction of the new system.

"So our customers can simply get in and go - without knowing the tariff, without cash and without having to buy a ticket," Wenmakers said at the first presentation of the system. It is an appealing service that could potentially attract many new customers. Since bus drivers have to sell tickets less frequently, this should also lead to shorter waiting times at bus stops and more punctuality on the lines.

An initial test phase is taking place on the SB 60 routes from the airport to Bonn city center and the ICE line 66 from Bonn/Siegburg station to Bonn. The NRW Ministry of Transport is supporting the project with 500,000 euros. The total costs for the pilot project are more than 2.5 million euros. The software and hardware for the new system is supplied by Scheidt & Bachmann. Its managing director Matthias Augustyniak promises that from October the whole city will be equipped with the new payment method. "We ask the passengers to share their experiences with us", said Augustyniak. (Orig. text: Thomas Leurs / Translation: ck)