We are reviewing different ticket pricing models together with customers

We have launched an extensive project to overhaul ticket and payment methods. In the future, tickets will be stored on user accounts and you can travel using the HSL app, the HSL card or your payment card. As part of an ongoing development project, we are reviewing different ticket pricing models. We are considering whether the current zone model is still the best way to determine fares or should the model be further developed or should we transition to a completely new pricing model.

We have studied the effects of different pricing models on ticket prices, the use of public transport and the share of funding from our member municipalities. We have collected feedback on the models from customers and stakeholders. Our goal is to increase the use of public transport and other sustainable modes of transport, to improve customer experience and to ensure sufficient ticket revenue.

The current zone model has many positive aspects. According to the surveys and studies we have conducted, the zone model is a good and clear way to price tickets. However, people’s opinions on the model vary depending on where they live. People who live in zones A and B are the most satisfied and those who live in zone C are the most critical about the model. Price affects customer satisfaction and zone boundaries cause dissatisfaction among those who live in the “wrong side” of the boundary. We will conduct a follow up study to assess should the price relations between zones be fine-tuned, should we introduce new tickets or even change the number of zones.

We are also examining the possibility of introducing a flat fare system, in which the whole HSL area would form one zone. With the current prices, in a flat fare system, a 30-day season ticket would cost only about 8 percent more than the current AB ticket because 80 percent of tickets purchased in the entire HSL area are AB and BC tickets.

In addition to the ABCD zone model, its variations and the flat fare, we have examined a so called my zone model and distance-based pricing. However, both of these models have been excluded from further consideration.

  • In the my zone model, customers could freely select the area for which they buy tickets. There would be an infinite number of zones, which would lower the price gaps between zones and would thus address one of the features of the current zone model considered problematic. However, when tested with customers, the model proved too complicated and it did not make purchase of tickets easier. In addition, the model would be technically extremely complicated and heavy to implement.
  • In the distance-based model, ticket prices would be determined by the distance travelled and the fare would be charged at the end of the journey. The model is new and in many ways promising as it might support effective organization of public transport. Many customers considered the model fair. On the other hand, passengers would have to pay separately for each journey; this might decrease the use of public transport among those who are used to season tickets. In addition, distance-based pricing on the scale needed to meet HSL’s needs is not yet common worldwide and consequently, the required technologies are still in development.

We are also exploring the possibilities of introducing new types of tickets. For example, different price caps or evening, weekend and group tickets could respond to the changing travel needs. Price capping could mean, for example, that when you buy a certain number of single tickets, the ticket will turn into a day ticket for the current day or into a season ticket for the current month.

Moving forward together with our customers

We wish to listen to our customers’ needs and wishes when planning the new service. We will continue to review and develop the current zone model and its variations as well as the flat fare model together with customers and stakeholders. In November, we conduct customer interviews. In January 2022, we will present the different pricing models and tickets on our website and invite customers to comment on the models. We report on the progress of the Ticket Account Project at hsl.fi/en/ticket-account-project.

In spring 2022, we will produce a draft decision on the pricing model. We will circulate the draft decision to our member municipalities for comments together with the operational and financial plan. The final decision on the model to be adopted will be made in fall 2022. Our aim is to find a model that is as easy and fair as possible and that encourages the use of public transport across the HSL area.

We are also building the technical backend for the ticket account system and replacing the current card readers with new ones. In the future, passengers can buy tickets using the HSL app, at hsl.fi, at card readers using a contactless debit/credit card or from sales and service points. The new model based on user accounts will make purchasing tickets easier and smoother. In the future, many issues that currently require visiting a service point, can be dealt with online with the user account.

Physical service points and the possibility of purchasing tickets by cash will remain available alongside digital channels. It is important that public transport remains accessible for all customer groups.