How a small Estonian bus station revolutionised the European way of travelling
Almost by chance the IT-department of a bus station in Estonia found the answer. Now their e-solution is a best-in-class experience for passengers not only in Europe, but it is conquering global markets.
“We developed a software system for purchase, sale and management of tickets. The aim was to create a more environmentally friendly way to connect people with public transport”, says Andres Osula, promoter of the project `Public ticket´.
The system is a one-stop shop for ticket sales aimed at companies providing public transportation, allowing them to digitally communicate with their customers. The orange and modern premises of Tallinn’s busy bus station are visited by 3.5 million passengers per year, who are now able to buy a bus ticket in ten seconds using the new Tpilet ticket system.
Ott Arumeel and Andres Osula are proud of the new system and excited to expand to Norway and Sweden in 2017. Photo Credit: Maria Knoph Vigsnaes
“The bus station used to have ten ticket counters, now there are only three. Human resources have been replaced with a digital system,” says Andres.
Expanding in Europe
“The first wave of digitising the ticket systems in the bus industry began in 1998. In 2000 the first online website for ticket purchases was opened. It worked well for ten years; however, in 2010 we saw a strong need for an update. Passengers were not informed if the busses were delayed and they had to print out the tickets and pay in advance,” says Andres.
In 2012 he launched a small-scale pilot to see what the operators and passengers thought of it. Today, the ticket system from Estonia is used by bus operators all over Europe.
“The first launch of the pilot was a success, and we saw the potential for creating an even bigger system. We started looking for partners and clients outside of Estonia”, says Andres.
Fewer cars, more buses
“Since the first model was launched five years ago the number of passengers using public transportation in Tallinn has increased by 25 percent, while the use of personal cars has decreased by 20 percent in the inner city,” says Andres.
After the digitalisation, the pricing system also went through a transformation. While the tickets used to cost the same every day, the ticket fares are now calculated according to demand. The next step is to expand the ticket system to other types of public transportation.
Through partnership with the Norwegian company Nerikska AS, public transportation companies in Norway and Sweden were introduced to the sales system. This resulted in Nettbuss, Scandinavia’s biggest coach company, buying 15% of T Solutions. The companies have also signed an agreement on the implementation of the new ticket system on all Norwegian express routes by the end of 2018.
“With the Norwegians as strategic investors in the company, we are more likely to gain access to international contacts and new markets,” says Andres Birnbaum, the CEO of T Solutions.
The T solution platform, which is a pioneer system in Estonia, is used by more than 40 coach companies across Europe and continues to grow. Today, its ticketing system is used in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Hungary, Austria, Russia, Belarus, Finland, Bulgaria and Hong Kong.
The Tpilet bus ticket system is slated to be implemented by Transdev’s long-distance bus lines, which operate across France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Portugal, Germany and the Czech Republic. “All ticket sales on Transdev’s intercity buses will begin to go through the sales system being developed in Estonia”, Osula explained.
The new public ticket system permits bus operators all over Europe to check the number of sold tickets in order to know how many busses to provide. Photo Credit: Maria Knoph Vigsnaes
According to the CEO of Nettbuss, Ståle Nitsov, the company’s customers are becoming increasingly digital, and to retain its position as the leading coach company in Scandinavia, it was necessary to take the company’s digital offering to the next level.
“We look forward to introducing the system in Norway – first as a pilot project, and then as a full-scale system. With T Solutions’ technical skills and innovative technology and our operational capabilities, we benefit from each other,” says Ståle Nistov, the CEO of Nettbuss.
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Green Industry Innovation
Tallinn Bus Station OÜ
Type of Institution:
Small or medium sized enterprise (SME)
The quality and environmental friendliness of providing the service of public transportation hides more potential than today´s solutions enable to exploit. One of the major disadvantages is the disunity of the public transportation network is that different transport types (buses, trains, trolleys, trams, subways, taxies, planes, ships) operate autonomously through different service providers and mutual coordination is virtually non-existent. This open call project, originating from small grant scheme, aims to develop a management software PublicTicket for purchasing, sales and resource management of public transportation services that enables to achieve remarkable resource savings and provides important value added to the public transportation service. Companies providing public transportation and supporting are able to take into use the modules of PublicTicket software (as a Service basis or by purchasing a software license). Project is implemented as donor partnership project, four project partners are involved in the project activities: Uptime Solutions OÜ, Sebe AS, Lux Express Estonia AS and Nerikska AS.