You’re traveling to another city. You want to use the mass transit. You need a ticket for the bus or train. How do you buy it, especially if you don’t speak the local language?
This can be very daunting for tourists. But the city of Livorno, Italy wins this one. Livorno is a popular cruise ship stop as you can take a not short bus ride to Pisa to see a certain leaning tower. Or just cruise around Livorno, which is what we did.
Google Maps helps us see how we could get from point A to point B via mass transit. We found where to catch the bus and which direction to go. Google was going to help us know when to get off the bus. All great.
The bus stop had a sign in Italian and English on how to buy a ticket.
Step 1: Text the word Livorno to phone number 4850306.
That’s literally it. One step. IF you have a phone on a cell phone carrier that is part of this ticket system, the cost of the ticket will come from your phone balance. Remember that Europe works mostly on pre-paid mobile plans… so I have 60 euros sitting with my carrier Tre (Three). They’re part of this deal so the €1.40 bus ticket came right out of my balance (plus 20 cents for the SMS since I don’t have texts on my plan).
That means the process looked like this:
OK, that won’t work for everybody.
If you don’t speak the languages the sign was in and/or if you don’t have a SIM card from one of the carriers that is part of this groovy SMS system, then this doesn’t work for you. It’s not 100% inclusive.
But to me, it’s something that could be done in more cities. Simply text a number, you have a bus ticket, and we figured out how you’re paying without taking the time (and the trust) to give up payment information. Direct billing mobile carriers is a great choice.