Novelty on Prague transport system: tickets by SMS

Many visitors to Prague praise the city’s public transport system, which is reliable, comprehensive and relatively easy to navigate. But buying tickets can sometimes be a problem, especially if you are far from the centre. Or rather it was a problem: on Thursday the Prague Transport Authority – Dopravni Podnik – launched a novel system under which passengers can buy single transfer tickets by mobile telephone text message. I talked to Jan Svoboda of the Prague Transport Authority and started by asking what were the reasons behind the introduction of the new system:

“The main reason is to bring a new quality service to our customers. We made a big research which shows that one of the key issues which our clients are solving is where and how I can get easiest way to my ticket. This service was a reaction to this research. And we came up with this solution which means that our customers can buy a ticket anywhere anytime just by using their mobile.”

Is it cheaper than installing vending machines at every tram stop or bus stops?

“Yes. When the result of this research came which showed that we need a service to bring the ticket anywhere anytime, and we compared it to investment into bringing the ticket machines to all places, all stations, all trams, all buses, it’s way over the possibilities of Dopravni podnik to introduce such a service. So the solution was to introduce a new way, which was a mobile phone. Everybody has a mobile phone. It’s easy to use. So that was the reason behind. So yes, from investment point of view, it’s definitely the lowest.”

How does the system work?

“It’s very easy. The person sends an SMS to the number 902 06 20 with the text DPT, which means Dopravni podnik ticket. And he receives within two minutes an SMS with the ticket which also includes some security codes.”

When is the ticket valid? From the moment when I send the SMS or from the moment when I receive the answer?

“It’s valid since the moment I send the SMS. This ticket is valid for ninety minutes. Usual ticket is for 70 minutes, but this is for 90 minutes. This is a bonification for our customers.”

Is the system limited to a certain type ticket?

This ticket means. It is a classical non-transferable ticket for 75 minutes for Be everywhere. Use any type of transportation.

How will the ticket inspectors check the validity of the ticket?

“Our transport control system is equipped with a mobile equipment, MDA or PDA, which includes offline and online application. The person is able through the application to control the validity of the ticket.”

What mobile phone operators will cooperate with Dopravni Podnik?

This system is prepared with all of them. T-Mobile, Telefonica O2 and Vodafone. All three mobile operators are helping with the system and are able to use the SMS ticket. So it’s for everybody.