Initiated by BVG. Powered by Trafi
Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) is Berlin’s public transport authority. It makes sure that Berliners are on the move — they manage the city’s U-Bahn, tram, bus, replacement services (Ersatzverkehr, EV), and ferry networks. BVG responds flexibly to the requirements of a city in which around 3.4 million people live and which is continually changing. Network density, clock frequency, and operating times are at a very high level, making Berlin’s local transport one of the most complex networks to organize in the world. BVG is an attractive and environmentally friendly alternative to individual transport and part of a flexible transport concept.
At the heart of BVG’s smart mobility strategy, #Berlinsteigtum is an initiative that connects the whole shared mobility offer in Berlin into a single marketplace to provide an attractive alternative to private car usage to all residents.
“With Jelbi, we want to help shape the future of mobility in Berlin by bringing all the pieces of the mobility puzzle together and giving the users an attractive alternative to private car usage. Our solution based on Trafi’s technology platform integrates into one app not only public transport but also all other forms of shared mobility in the city. The people of Berlin can now seamlessly plan, book, and pay on-demand for all their transportation needs with one single app and account.” - Jakob Michael Heider, Head of Jelbi at BVG
BVG understood that creating such a product from scratch would require a lot of human capital and time. But there was no time to spare. The Public Transport authority, therefore, decided to look for a solution. Thus BVG and Trafi, one of the MaaS solution leaders, started talking to each other. From these conversations, Jelbi was born.
BVG Jelbi roadmap goals
Grow the user base by acquiring shared mobility enthusiasts
Increase multimodality by integrating more modes and providers
Promote sustainable movement by adding incentives, gamifying the experience, etc.
Learn more about the roadmap for Mobility as a Service.
BVG Jelbi was launched in just six months and built on Trafi MaaS Suite. Trafi provided not only a plug and play white label solution that was customized to BVG’s branding, but also a sophisticated MaaS API (backend) system to power it.
BVG Jelbi integrates all public transport and shared mobility options into a one-stop-shop for Berliners to find, plan, book, and pay for all their trips. It covers all rider’s needs such as assistance planning and routes discovery, real-time public transport information and shared mobility vehicle location & availability, a streamlined payment solution for any integrated mobility service, as well as the possibility to compare the duration & cost of each trip.
Main features of BVG Jelbi:
Berlin’s full mobility network in one place. Over 15,000 vehicles covering every kind of public and shared mobility options ready to be booked and paid for straight from the app.
Enhanced real-time information and a seamless way to purchase various BVG tickets — single-use, day, monthly — within the app.
Single registration to find, plan, book, and pay for all mobility services that are or will be integrated. A user who has a BVG account can use it to log in to BVG Jelbi, making the process even quicker.
Berliners can plan their trips in mere seconds and choose the best-suited option by comparing all travel options according to duration, cost, and mode in one screen.
Accurate trip suggestions for multiple types of transport, whether it be unimodal or intermodal.
BVG Jelbi users can pay for their trips with a credit card, PayPal, or even direct debit.
Car sharing and ride sharing require a verification of the user. Jelbi handles ID and driver license checks while adhering to the highest security standards in the blink of an eye.
Behind the scenes
BVG is responsible for talking to mobility service providers (MSPs) and handling contracts with them. From the start, BVG was strong-minded and aimed only for deep level integrations with MSPs. It means allowing users to access and pay for their services directly through the BVG Jelbi app.
Trafi handles all the integrations and makes sure that they work flawlessly. Trafi’s MaaS Suite upholds all the integrations and communication between the MSP systems. The payments for MSP services booked through Jelbi are managed directly through the integrated Payment Service Provider (PSP). The PSP charges money from users and directly transfers it to the MSPs, ensuring a quick and direct payment to each provider. Neither Trafi nor the BVG plays any role in the payment process.
Trafi has integrated BVG tickets into the BVG Jelbi app, thus ensuring that Berliners can follow the familiar process of ticket purchase. The digital ticket incorporates a QR code that is easily scannable and recognizable. Trafi also incorporated animated security features into the ticket, indicating that the ticket is active in order to prevent fraud.
Trafi’s MaaS Suite does the heavy lifting for all integrations such as payments, ticketing systems, user documents, driver licenses, and phone validations, amongst others. Its proprietary routing algorithms also provide unimodal and intermodal trip suggestions. Static and real-time data is captured and enhanced to guarantee the most accurate ETAs and route suggestions.
Key Learnings of BVG Jelbi
Deep level Mobility Service Provider (MSP) integration is a must. Without deep level integration, a ‘MaaS’ solution would be a mere aggregator rather than a full multimodal solution. Some MSPs tend to shy away from deep integration initially, but then rapidly understand its value, e.g., reaching a vast consumer audience with no extra advertising costs.
Tech moves fast, but integrations cost time. An essential step is realizing that cities should start talking with new mobility service providers as soon as possible. Integration is a complex and time-consuming process. MSPs have their roadmaps, as well as limited tech team capabilities, which means that the integration on their end may take some time as well.
Working hand-in-glove. Working with Trafi meant working at a new speed for BVG. Using a mature technology stack rather than developing it from scratch, and combining both expertise and know-how from our two different companies, allowed us to launch Jelbi in just six months.
Expectation management. “The most significant learning was expectation management. It is important to understand that it is a work in progress. The product will never complete; you always have to keep on developing and innovating,” said Sebastian Wolf, Product Owner at BVG Jelbi.
Organic growth is natural, but it takes time. We see that Berliners need to adjust to a new solution and grasp its benefits. However, we have been witnessing steady growth over time, and we predict that it will pick up even faster as the BVG Jelbi app keeps on getting better.
“When BVG started to look for a trusted partner to launch a Mobility-as-a-Service solution in Berlin, we were mostly looking for speed, agility, and top-notch customer experience. These are exactly the things that Trafi offered us. As an independent start-up, Trafi brought us the possibility to integrate all partners in record time. And even more importantly, we share the same vision: letting cities orchestrate their mobility networks to drive the push from private to shared mobility.” - Jakob Michael Heider, Head of Jelbi at BVG