In recent years, there were numerous proposals on reforming the fare system used in Budapest public transport. This should come as no surprise, as Budapest has the most outdated ticket system Europe, with mechanical ticket punchers that are now museum items in the large European cities that Budapest aims to learn from when it comes to the organization of transport. This outdated technology blocks the introduction of ticket types that greatly differ from single-trip tickets and period passes, even though these alternative products are working well and are popular in other cities, and it also inhibits effective action against fare evasion and the counterfeiting of passes
The main aims of the project are as follows:
1. Introducing a new fare system (ease of use, flexible rates, e.g. switching lines without buying a new ticket)
2. Making ticket and pass sales more comfortable and modern, and available in more locations through more channels (e.g. via mobile phone and Internet)
3. Reducing fare evasion by reorganizing controls and making them more systematic (e.g. by installing automatic gates in the metro network instead of relying on ticket inspectors).
4. Eliminating the counterfeiting of tickets and passes
5. Introducing a technological system that, apart from public transport tickets, also handles the collection and processing of payments for parking, Budapest's bike sharing scheme (BuBi) and other transport services.
6. The ticket revenue processing centre of BKK needs to be connected to future the national ticket revenue processing system and the future National Integrated Card System.
7. Contributing to the sustainable financing of public transport and to improving the level of service it provides
The methodology is based on the fact that Budapest is starting with a clean sheet – as there was essentially no change or development in the ticket system or infrastructure in recent decades – and as such, what is under consideration is practically a "green field" investment. Therefore, we felt we had an opportunity and an obligation to make a proposal for a new fare system.
The fundamental principles of the new fare system were derived from the town policy principle that it is in Budapest's interest to motivate the largest possible number of people to use public transport services with regularity, as any increase in the number of people travelling by car causes loss of time at both the individual and the community level and contributes to environmental pollution, which can be significantly reduced by making public transport more attractive to citizens. T
here are several factors that contribute to the attractiveness of public transport: the size and structure of the network, the schedule, the ability to maintain the schedule and the condition of the vehicles. The fare structure and fare levels are similarly important factors, as is the availability of tickets and passes; in one word, the "fare system".
Within the framework of the review of the fare structure, the study proposes maintaining the system of passes, which is working well and is indispensable for those who use public transport on a regular, daily basis. We believe that it is advisable – as it is done today – to set the prices of weekly and bi-weekly passes such that it is worth for passengers to buy a month pass, and to give an incentive for buying one-year passes, which is beneficial for the service provider from the point of view of cash flow.
Time-based tickets are an ideal solution: during their validity, they offer unlimited line changes, which is beneficial for passengers that take short trips that require several line changes. In order to make public transport worth using for people who take several trips in one day, we recommend introducing a fare cap that maximizes the amount of money that can be spent on travel in a given period. This would automatically give the passenger a day pass in accordance with a predetermined fare structure after using a given number of time-based tickets, i.e. any further travel would be free after paying for a certain amount of travel time that day. In economic terms, this would mean the maximization of consumer surplus, and it would offer an assurance for people who are not regular passengers that reduces the weight of the decision taken when starting their first trip on public transport: they can start using public transport safe in the knowledge that the fare will switch to day pass mode whenever that is more beneficial for them. The validity period of time-based tickets requires further investigation in our opinion. The above described product structure is designed to increase the number of people who use public transport with some regularity, encouraging occasional passengers to become regular users of the system, and to incentivize non-pass-using passengers to actually pay for using the service. The above travel product range is expected to increase the number of people using public transport, saving time and money for the individuals involved and making the public transport system itself more sustainable through higher expected fare revenues. Certain services in Budapest's public transport network (such as suburban railway lines) extend beyond the administrative boundaries of the city. The legal regulations regarding the fare structure applied to these services recently changed, making the introduction of time-based fares a legal obligation.
This provides an opportunity to revise the fare structure that applies to the suburbs of Budapest in order to set up a ticket and fare system that is compatible with that of Budapest, and shared between the various service providers (the MÁV-START railway company and Volán coach services). With this aim, the present study proposes the introduction of a zonal fare system in Budapest suburbs, which requires further negotiations with the actors involved with a view to coming to a common agreement. A system of common regional fares is a long-standing issue that should be resolved by lawmakers in the interests of the travelling public. However, the expanded and innovative product range is only one element of the proposed changes; the proposed technical solution also makes it possible to introduce radically new purchasing options as well: Internet distance sales and balance top-ups, and – depending on the results of further surveys – a radical expansion of the reseller network, e.g. using ATM machines.
There was provided a feasibility study of the new fare collection system.
The main policy objective was to attract the potential users of public transport to use this transport mode by one new and easy to use fare collection system.