The Rhônexpress tramway ¬¬– which went into service in August 2010 – links the center of the French city of Lyon with Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport under 30 minutes. This essential element of the region’s development was born out of a public-private partnership between the local département (Rhône), which owns the land on which it is built, and the company awarded the concession to run the tramway, Rhônexpress, which was responsible for designing and delivering the project, and will wholly operate it for a 30-year period. Established in 2006, Rhônexpress has three shareholders, including Veolia Transdev, the world’s biggest private operator of public transport services. The operation, development and maintenance of the line, as well as the marketing and commercialization of the service, has been subcontracted to CFTA Rhône, a Veolia Transdev subsidiary specializing in rail transport.
Ticketing: a critical application
At the end of 2008, when work began on the development of the line, CFTA Rhône put out an invitation to tender for a complete ticketing system. Early in 2009, after an initial contact was made to refine some of the project details, Bull Amesys was chosen because its proposal best met the objective set out for Rhônexpress: a ticketing solution that would secure its revenues. “Ticketing is a critical application for us, because tickets are effectively our only source of operating revenue for Rhônexpress. If we want to ensure the line’s development over the long term, investing in new equipment and new services, we need an extremely reliable, secure and high-performance commercial system. Bull Amesys offered us a made-to-measure turnkey solution scaled to fit our needs – which are relatively modest compared with the traditional big players in public transport – but which is nevertheless at the cutting edge in terms of technology,” explains David Rituper, Director of Marketing and Sales at CFTA Rhône.
The solution designed and implemented by Bull Amesys is built around a centralized system that manages the three sales channels for Rhônexpress tickets – 13 automated ticketing machines in the stations, 34 hand-held terminals used by conductors on board the shuttles, and the Internet site for on-line sales – in an integrated way. It offers extremely rich functionality including accepting many different means of payment, allowing terminals to recognize e-tickets bought on line, and up-to-the minute reporting, which enables the operator to control its activities very closely and immediately detect any incidents.
An unprecedented on-board solution
The most innovative aspect of the solution though, is the on-board element, which depends on a terminal that is used in a way never before seen in the transport industry. The machine not only takes payments for tickets (via a 3G connection that provides a direct link to the bank server), but also prints and validates them. “Users and customers have give a very warm welcome to this modern, easy-to-use solution which fits in well with current ways of using technology in terms of its ergonomics and functionality,” notes Fabienne Bardin, Ticketing Manager at CFTA Rhône.
Thanks to its responsiveness, pragmatism and skills, the team from Bull Amesys was able to take into account a number of changes to the scope of the project encountered along the way, and to deliver the solution on time, despite the very tight deadlines. Having got past the initial fine-tuning, for example to enable 3G connectivity for the on-board terminals, the solution is now proving extremely reliable, which is enabling Rhônexpress to use it as the backbone of its business activities and development. “Traditionally, ticketing systems are highly complex to implement because they incorporate numerous different kinds of technologies, and they need to meet very high standards of reliability,” observes Fabienne Bardin. “But we are constantly working with Bull Amesys to make the solution even more robust.”
Bull Amesys: a high technology partner
“Nowadays, Bull Amesys is much more than just a supplier to Rhônexpress; it is a true high technology partner, who is helping us with our deliberations about how the system will evolve in the future,” David Rituper concludes. And an m-commerce solution, which will allow Rhônexpress customers to buy their tickets using their mobile phones, is already being considered.