From September 6, 2007, customers of the Flemish public transport company De Lijn in Belgium no longer need to have a season ticket or small change on them to take the bus or tram. A new system allows them to pay the fare by means of their cell phone.
The idea behind the system is simple, the only thing one needs is a cell phone. Just before taking the bus or tram, passengers can send a text messaging code to a special number. Within seconds, they will get a reply. On entering the bus or tram, the passenger then simply has to produce his cell phone and show it to the driver.
The new payment method makes do with paper bus tickets. And although it is still more expensive than a season ticket, it certainly is cheaper than buying a ticket on the bus.
The payment is settled with the customer’s monthly cell phone bill.
By introducing the payment by mobile phone, De Lijn hopes to further improve efficiency as well as reduce delays. Although not entirely novel – the system has been in use in Helsinki for some time now- the method is new to Flanders and the rest of Western Europe. In this first stage, the system is still limited to a few cities and to one mobile operator, Proximus, only but if the system proves to be effective that may change soon.