Revolution and reinvention
Cubic Transportation Systems delivers tools that enable travellers to choose the smartest and easiest way to travel and pay for their journeys, helping transportation authorities and agencies to manage demand across the entire transportation network
The leading integrator of payment and information solutions and related services for intelligent travel applications in the transportation industry, Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) is part of Cubic Corporation, a market-leading, technology provider of integrated solutions for not just transportation, but also defence, mission solutions (C4ISR) and related training worldwide.
Today CTS is a world-leading integrator of payment and information technology and services. Its solutions can be found located throughout the world’s overground rail systems, including in the UK, Australia and the US, while the company’s systems can also be found on underground rail networks across four continents.
A regular and valued contributor to Railway Strategies, CTS last appeared in 2017, and thanks to its ongoing dedication to continuous improvement, we were anticipating the ensuing 12 months would be filled with exciting new developments. As John Pickworth, Business Development Director, CTS Europe, confirmed, progress has been made across a variety of projects, on a global scale. “Over the last year, we have seen continued UK client investment in gates and associated technology, driven by the desire to shift the public away from traditional media and onto smarter solutions. These provide a customer return in both lower cost base and improved satisfaction, so the business case is pretty strong. We have seen the progression of a number of more strategic initiatives, including the Bus Hopper service in Transport for London (TfL), the Department for Transport/Rail Delivery Group-driven STNR programme and Transport for the North. These all have the potential to deliver huge benefits to users, as the UK ticketing industry becomes more unified,” he began.
“Cubic has also had a hugely successful year worldwide, including in North America where we have had major wins in New York and Boston, underpinned by our Account-Based Ticketing (ABT) urban mobility back office and infrastructure offering. As these projects materialise, we are able to deliver wider benefits to our UK and European customers through mature product delivery.”
As John mentioned, ABT is an area of focus and development for CTS, and he explained both the concept and the benefits: “ABT has a number of meanings to different people. Our focus is towards a Pay As You Go (PAYG) scheme that allows users to tap in at the start of the journey and tap out at the end of the journey and the appropriate fare is charged and paid for from the user account in the back office. The advantages are considerable for end users and operators alike when applied to commuter fares. The two main benefits for end users are that within the highly complex UK rail fares system, they get the best fare for the journey that they take rather than having to have an expert knowledge of the fares structure to buy the right ticket. In addition, their loyalty for multiple journeys within a period can be rewarded using fare capping based on their travel habits rather than having to predict how many journeys would be made that week beforehand.
“Whilst bus fares are generally not so complex, ABT offers similar distinct advantages to bus customers as well. From an operator perspective, the shift improves customer satisfaction, meets SMART franchise commitments and has the potential to lower the cost of operation. The only question the operators have is which technology or solution to go with as the market is maturing rapidly, and they rightly need to demonstrate value for money in any investment.”
ABT is an area where CTS foresees further expansion, with John noting that the organisation is already in the process of delivering an ABT solution for Abellio Scotrail. “We expect to deploy a pilot in the near future which will provide PAYG using an ITSO card as the chosen account ID token,” he said, before adding details about projects in other locations: “In Ireland we have delivered the first phases of a new dynamic revenue management system for Irish Rail, working with our partners Sqills from the Netherlands. We are exploring several other areas including benefits we can bring to cities in Northern Europe and France.
“We are committed to helping Transport for the North achieve their goals in terms of economic benefit realisation across the north of England through smarter travel, and deliver the next phase of our journey planning solution in Manchester,” he continued. “This is in addition to supporting several ITS customers across the UK including Transport Scotland and Highways England as we look to provide integrated multi-modal transport solutions.”
In a relationship that reflects the overall innovation and investment that is underway across Britain’s railways, TfL is a valued customer of CTS, and the two companies’ contactless bankcard payment system has won multiple awards since it was introduced, and has transformed the way millions of commuters pay for travel every day. In October 2017, TfL extended its contract with CTS for another two years, and as John noted, the solution developed for London has not only been a learning curve, but also the launch pad for taking this technology across the world: “Our success is founded on trust to deliver, and to act in the interest of the customer and end user while protecting our business,” he said. “Our approach to partnership has differentiated us from others, an example being the commercial IP benefits we were able to materialise with TfL as we took their London IP to both New York and Boston amongst other worldwide cities. In London, we have not always got everything right, and I am sure we will make mistakes in the future, but we work in partnership with TfL to predict, identify and address any issues quickly and collaboratively. As well as delivering demonstrable savings, this partnership model combined with a true focus on the end user is what we believe made the difference. Going forward, the rollout of our London Ticket Vending Machine and cycle hire payment initiatives remain priority projects in London, and we will continue to work with TfL to enhance our service offering.”
It is through the development of these close working relationships with supportive customers that CTS is able to continually hypothesise and construct future operating models such as Mobility as a Service (MaaS), while looking for new ways to make the passenger’s journey better.
This focus on improving passenger experience is illustrated by one of CTS’ current focus areas, which is being developed at its dedicated Innovation Centre. “We are working on a range of intelligent gateline innovations, which are aimed at increasing the throughput at gatelines. This is essential for predicted growth in passenger flow. Our innovations are focused on developing gatelines that do not use conventional opening and closing paddles based on ticket validation at the gateline. Instead they use a combined set of data – validating the ticket media at a validation point away from the gateline, and then using video analytics to track the ‘validated’ passenger to the gateline and allowing them to pass through. Only if a passenger approaches the gateline who has not satisfied the pre-validation criteria will their passage be blocked in some way.”
Other innovations underway range from advancements in Connected & Autonomous Vehicle hubs (CAV), video analytics to help manage flow and a host of new devices from CTS’ Virtual Ticket Agent, to new reader devices. “Innovation remains at the core of our company, with regular hackathons and what we call ‘Product72’ engagements – where staff and partners are given 72 hours to produce commercially viable product concepts from scratch. Whereas perhaps in the past these sessions have been focused purely on technical problem solving, P72 brings skills from engineering, marketing, sales, commercial and service together. We have also seen huge benefits here in combining the skills from our transport and defence divisions.”
Anyone travelling by rail or bus in 2018 can be assured that CTS is working hard to ensure their journey is as unified and streamlined as possible, yet as anyone who uses public transportation is aware, there are still multitudes of ticket options out there, the organisation of which can be both time consuming and confusing. “There is a range of different ticketing and mobility solutions being offered by the industry,” agreed John. “All of these have merit but a degree of consolidation is likely at some point where paper tickets will reduce, some (but probably not all) smart ticketing media will grow and all media will have a mobile solution both in terms of retail and digital ticketing provision. Further to this point we can expect to see an account approach where passengers will be able to manage all of the ticketing for all type of public transport (heavy rail, light rail, bus), all from a single account.
“There remains significant potential for these to go even further into other areas such as road user charging, and the evolution into MaaS. There are several disruptors out there offering new services. These are helping transform the industry thinking, bringing alternative solutions to the table. The single biggest challenge I think this poses for the industry is in creating a transport infrastructure and system that is seamless for the end user. There remains too much focus on individual operator objectives and needs, and we need to work together to deliver the right solution for our end users.”
CTS will play an important role in developing initiatives around MaaS, Ticketing as a Service and other similar business models, providing both thought leadership and solid solutions. As an imaginative trailblazer, the business isn’t afraid to create a totally new path if the existing one isn’t going in the right direction. Having already helped to evolutionise the transportation industry, the company remains dedicated to reinventing it, and while the maturity of its systems and experience are key factors, it is also continuously investing in new ways to further improve reliability. “We are looking at predictive technologies, resilience, self-reporting assets and other ways of knowing something is going to fail long before it becomes critical,” concluded John. “All this forms part of our service-led strategy, recognising that customers buy our solutions for the long term and need them to remain reliable throughout life.”