If consumers can book and pay for taxi service using just their mobile phones — Vodafone’s branded cabs in London being a perfect example — then why not public transportation as well? That, indeed, is the premise behind a new service launched earlier this year by Italian transport firm ATAF, which now lets riders on its Florence bus service get their tickets by text message. Through a partnership with mobile payments firm Bemoov, ATAF — short for Azienda Trasporti Area Fiorentina — now gives riders on its Florence city buses a way to buy their tickets via SMS. Users of the service simply register with Bemoov to link a credit card with their phone and then send a text message with the text “ATAF” to a designated number when they’re ready to travel. Within seconds, they receive a reply message with an alphanumeric code to be submitted to the controller for verification. There’s no additional fee for using the service. Currently, only one-way tickets are sold this way; the price is EUR 1.20 for a 90-minute trip. Stockholm and Helsinki have already embraced similar capabilities, according to Bemoov, and more will undoubtedly soon follow. Public transport commissions around the globe: how about you?
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