Mobile transportation tickets catch on in Estonia

  • 2002-09-26
  • Sara Toth

In December, commuters will be able to buy tickets with mobile phones for all of Tallinn's buses, trams and trolleys.

During a three-month test period that ended in September, commuters bought about 330 mobile tickets a day.

"The city is adopting mobile tickets mainly to offer more comfortable payment possibilities for passengers," said Tiit Siimon, a Tallinn transportation official.

The software for the test project was paid for and developed by Tartu-based Mobi Solutions and Regio.

The mobile tickets during the pilot project cost 10 kroons (0.67 euros).

But in December the tickets will cost 15 kroons plus the mobile phone operator's fee for sending a text message, which is usually about 2 kroons. During the pilot phase, the software developers Mobi Solutions and Regio covered the cost of the text messages.

"For every ticket sold we lost money," said Teet Jheomagi, chairman of Regio. "But during the test period our aim was just to cover our costs. In the long run this model is not sustainable. The business model is sustainable only if there is a fee for sending the SMS messages."

EMT has developed its mobile ticket system and will be one of the contenders for the contract for providing mobile tickets in Tallinn, said Holger Haljand, a project manager at EMT.

EMT is currently testing a mobile-ticket system in Tartu. Recently mobile phone operators have been interested in creating software to sell the tickets, not just the communication lines over which the tickets are sold.

"In this respect they have become our competitors," Jheomagi said. "I still hope very much that the market will sort things out. Ideally, the free market will be the wisest thing."

Jheomagi said he was hoping that Regio would be awarded the contract.

"Of course we hope to win," he said.