The Welsh Government has a vision for a unified, sustainable transport infrastructure, which joins up the delivery of travel services throughout the country. This is a key part of ‘One Wales’: the government’s commitment to improve quality of life for the people of Wales.
Smart ticketing is a critical part of this transport plan. To deliver it, the government needed a trusted provider able to consolidate disparate regional systems into a single, efficient, nationally-integrated scheme that could provide multiple services through a single card.
As a leader in the deployment of public sector smart technology schemes, ACT was the obvious choice for this landmark project.
2,500 buses and approximately 100 operators nationally are supported by the ACT HOPS
All 22 local authorities across the country are supported by the ACT CMS
550,000 existing records have been migrated by ACT from 22 separate data sets, with an individual specification in place for each
720,000 concessionary cardholders have now benefited from the scheme
“We undertook a quality assessment of a number of suppliers, and appointed ACT as prime contractor. This was based on its enterprise strength and track record in delivering successful public sector initiatives.”
“ACT has been hugely proactive, very capable, and its knowledge of ITSO is second to none. I’d have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending its services.”
At the start of the project, ACT formed close partnerships with the Welsh Government, local authorities, transport authorities, relevant consortia and multiple suppliers. After in-depth consultation with the Welsh Government, it put forward a detailed proposal to help the government achieve its aspirations.
ACT’s expert Consultant Services team designed a single, integrated solution to support the smart ticketing terminals of 2,500 buses and over 100 operators. This included the ACT HOPS transaction processing engine, Customer Management System (CMS), card issuing services and ongoing operational support, delivered as a fully managed service. ACT was also responsible for overseeing the production and encoding of the cards.
Importantly, the ACT solution is future-proof. It has the capacity to handle massive volumes of transactional data and service the needs of local authorities, as well as a number of commercial and concessionary transport operators.
In spite of the potential challenges, migration to the new solution proved straightforward. ACT migrated some 550,000 existing customer records from 22 separate local authorities’ data sets into the ACT CMS, and brought together discrepancies in format. “ACT had a lot to contend with while delivering the back-office systems,” says Vivien. “But overall, given that the ITSO specification was still very new and in a state of flux, the transition was very smooth.”
The concessionary scheme is now fully up and running. As hoped, the consolidation of the regional schemes into a single national programme has produced a complete picture of concessionary card use across Wales. Every journey is recorded in the ACT HOPS, which generates reports for distribution to the 22 local authorities. “It’s already being taken for granted by 720,000 concessionary passengers across the country. This is now a true, all-Wales system,” says Vivien.
“It’s early days, but once we accumulate enough data, we can start to understand passenger use across our infrastructure, as well as use our staff more effectively and drive operational efficiencies. Ultimately, this will enable us to improve route planning and scheduling to deliver a better service,” she adds.
When the automated reimbursement goes live, Vivien hopes the fully auditable data can also help improve the speed and accuracy of concessionary payments to transport operators. “It should also help us demonstrate greater accountability for taxpayers’ money between local authorities and central Government,” she says.
And because ACT’s solution is based on an ITSO compliant platform, the next phase of the programme will see the delivery of commercial ticketing over the shared infrastructure. “Users of the scheme will be able to put money on their cards, which they can use to pay for their bus journeys,” says Vivien.
Indeed, the Welsh Government project is attracting great interest from all manner of places. “As the ACT smart ticketing scheme delivers on its promises, and we start to integrate new transport operators, it opens up the possibility for integration with rail transport – and even other market sectors. This is all vital for our pursuit of the ‘One Wales’ vision,” says Vivien.
To other public sector bodies considering a similar scheme, Vivien says: “Thanks to ACT, we’re firmly on track to deliver on our political commitment of an Oyster card-equivalent for Wales. ACT has been hugely proactive, very capable, and its knowledge of ITSO is second to none. I’d have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending ACT and its services.”