About this good practice
Prior to the introduction of the e-ticketing system, tickets in Varna were sold by conductors inside the vehicles. Their price was fixed regardless of the time traveled and if passengers changed the line they had to purchase a new ticket.
During the pandemic, the Public transport suffered from a large loss of passengers. Moreover, it was imperative to find a contactless way to buy tickets. From the other hand, it was important to increase the use of public transport.
The e-ticketing system was introduced on January 1, 2021. The purchase of tickets was possible only by machines at bus stops and inside the vehicles. Charging is based on the duration of the trip at prices of € 0.75 and € 0.90. Passengers are able to use them within 90 and 120 min respectively, with an unlimited number of transfers on all transport lines.
Another novelty is the all-day ticket. For the amount of €2, one can use public transport within 24 h. The ticket of € 0.5 is reserved for one hour trip. The prices of the subscription cards remain the same.
Since July 2021, tickets in Varna can be purchased through a mobile app (www.varna.mpass.bg). After payment with a pre-registered debit or credit card, it generates a barcode that replaces the paper ticket. Thus, for most of the passengers the tickets vending machines become completely redundant.
The introduction of the e-ticketing system was funded only by the municipal budget allocated for this purpose and was implemented by Varna Transport company.
The initial price of the system was BGN 8 Mio. In the beginning of 2022 the Municipality allocated BGN 9 Mio for maintenance and updating of the system.
Evidence of success
This practice contributed to the increase of the passenger flow of Varna public transport. As of the first half of 2021, the company's losses have decreased from BGN 3,341 million to BGN 2,185 million.
In March 2022, despite inflation in the country of almost 10%, ticket prices in Varna have not increased.
Potential for learning or transfer
The automated ticket system in Varna is the only one in the country and above all is a good example for the other big cities in Bulgaria. If desired by the municipalities, it could easily be transferred through multiplication in accordance with the conditions of the transport system in each city.
In reality, the pandemic situation triggered the introduction of this system, because the vending machines were purchased by the Municipality in 2016 and were staying unused until 2020. COVID-19 has really accelerated the introduction of the system, which on paper was long planned as part of the Varna SUMP.