Cubic Transportation Systems has launched a transport ticketing concept, NextAgent, which uses high-speed video links to allow passengers to interact with ticketing staff in real-time.
NextAgent has been described as a combination between a ticket office, call centre and ticket vending machine, and allows transport operators to address several trends in ticketing through centralised ticketing hubs, which can be accessed by users whenever they are travelling.
Since deploying staff across a transport operator’s network outside peak travel hours is expensive, the NextAgent concept could free up staff for other roles, Cubic said.
Cubic senior vice president, strategy and business development Matt Cole said that NextAgent is a major advance in ticketing for both passengers and operators.
"We are bringing to market technology what will appeal to all passengers: mobile ticketing for those that would prefer to self-serve and NextAgent for those passengers that want the option of consulting knowledgeable ticketing staff to get the right ticket at the right price," Cole said.
NextAgent features a high-definition glass screen, which displays a live video of the ticket agent at the hub, to whom passengers can speak in a similar fashion to a traditional ticket window.
According to the company, NextAgent provides all the functionality of a staffed ticket office, in addition to offering other benefits, including vending a range of media such as smart cards, magnetic tickets, paper barcodes, e-ticketing and mobile ticketing.
The new concept also features integrated camera and document scanning facilities that allow photos and other personal documents to be verified.
NextAgent’s smart card management system includes sale and issue of cards, processing refunds and returns, as well as transferring products between cards.
"Centralised ticketing with NextAgent enables operators to provide the optimum combination of service and cost," said Cole.
"On the one hand, it reduces the cost of staff having to be deployed in ticket offices. On the other, it enhances customer service by, for example, pooling specialist expertise – foreign languages, for instance – and ensuring a uniform level of high-quality service across the network."
The system also supports a range of payment options, from notes and coins to credit and debit cards and NFC-enabled smartphones.
Cubic’s NextAgent will be demonstrated at the ongoing International Association of Public Transport (UITP) World Congress & Mobility and City Transport Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland and at the APTA Rail Conference Product Showcase to be held from 2-3 June 2013 in Philadelphia, US.