Beeline pay: Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg tests tariffs for air-line distances

Beeline pay : Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg tests tariffs for air-line distances

The Verkehrsverbund Rhein Sieg (VRS) tests a new tariff. With the so-called eTariff, customers are to pay for the air-line distance only and no longer have to look for a suitable tariff themselves. The VRS is still looking for testers to try the new offer.

It's the all-important question at the card machine: Which ticket do I need? The Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Sieg (VRS) offers nine different fares - not including short distances. The question of the right fare could soon become superfluous for passengers. In the coming months, the VRS wants to test the so-called "eTariff" and is still looking for testers. With the new model, customers only pay as the crow flies.

The "eTariff" is aimed at occasional customers who say: "It's too complicated for me, I don't feel like dealing with these whole tariff zones," explained VRS spokesperson Holger Klein. You can now download an app. When people get on the train, they swipe to the right on their telephone display and the app registers the stop. When they get off again, they tell the device by swipingto the left. The app also registers when a passenger forgets to log out and reminds them to do so. "We hope that the eTariff will help us win new customers who have been deterred by the tariff system," says Klein.

The basic price for the new electronic tariff is 1.50 Euro, and for every kilometre or part thereof between the start and finish, as the crow flies, another 15 cents will be added. For a journey from Duisdorf to Alfter-Impekoven this means that customers pay only half the usual price. The two stops are 1.7 kilometres apart. Previously, a mobile phone ticket for the route cost 3.60 Euro. With the new "eTariff", only 1.80 Euroare due for the journey. The maximum price of the "eTarif" is 15 Euro, equivalent to a day ticket.

But the new "eTariff" is not cheaper than regular tickets for all customers. If, for example, you travel from the very south of Cologne to the north of the city, you will travel cheaper with the usual fare, says Klein. But the differences are not that massive anyway. Once the app is available to all customers, it should also indicate whether the "eTariff" will save money or not.

For many occasional customers, costs are not the decisive factor, says Klein. "For many people it is more important that it is convenient and simple. They don't look at a few cents - we know that from market research.“

However, the new "eTariff" is not only intended to help customers find their way around all the tariffs more easily. "They only pay forwhat they actually travel," says Klein. This also makes the new model a bit fairer. This applies in particular to customers who live at the border of a fare zone and therefore have to pay more because they cross it - such as passengers who travel a comparatively short distance from Hangelar to Bonn.

Before the tariff is tested, the employees of the transport association have already tried it out for around a year. The system comes from Switzerland. It uses the GPS of the telephones to record where customers get on and off. "This also works smoothly at the Heumarkt stop in Cologne, which is extremely deep underground," says Klein. No one needs to worry about his data either. "We only use it for billing purposes and don't create motion profiles."

Other transport associations are also experimenting with similar models. "We're talking to colleagues from the Ruhr and the Aachen area," says Klein. "Sooner or later, we want to achieve a NRW-wide tariff."

The test phase begins on April 8 and ends on September 6. Interested parties can register at www.vrsinfo.de of the VRS and then receive a code to activate the app.

(Original text: Dennis Scherer, Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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