Electronic ticketing systems have rapidly developed due to the advantages they bring to the client and the service provider, such as ease of use, the fight against fraud, increased transaction speed, increased reliability of terminals and cards and reduced maintenance costs. Moreover, an interoperable electronic ticketing system offers the public greater freedom and seamless journeys, and opens the door to collaboration with other urban actors, service providers and banks. In general, implementing an electronic ticketing system presents a real opportunity to give fresh impetus to a new service and customer relations.
Call for papers for Automatic Fare Collection conference
But major developments are still needed. To address the existing challenges, the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) will be holding an international conference on Automatic Fare Collection in Italy early next year. UITP has just launched its call for papers for this conference, which is intended not only for public transport actors, but also for banking professionals and urban service providers from all over the world. The topics that will be discussed at this event, which is expected to be one of the world’s largest conferences on automatic fare collection, include the following list.
What relevant new technologies are emerging?
New technologies in the context of electronic ticketing provide the opportunity to develop innovative new applications. Interactive TV, encryption, biometrics, mobile telephony, MMS, SMS are all technologies that have been developing over recent years. Today some of these technologies are already very mature, while others still need further developments before widely used applications can be implemented. Either way, all of them open the doors to new applications for access-control, prepaid tickets, single tickets, integration with customer relations.
How to deal with occasional travellers and occasional payments?
One remaining hindrance for the widescale adoption of smart card applications is the management of the occasional user. The cost of smart cards is still high so it does not make financial sense to make them available to people who use the service on an irregular basis. Most services, be they transport-related or otherwise, still have users that prefer to pay with cash, who may be using the service for the first time, or will use it just once. If the access-control to the services is based on an electronic system, this category of users will need special handling. When no clear strategy is available the handling of such single cases, they may obstruct the whole service. The appropriate fare collection solution is not yet defined, but a number of different possibilities exist like mobile phones applications, disposable smart cards, etc.
How to manage the back office?
The latest technological evolutions enable customers to pay for the same service with different kinds of devices, such as mobile phones, smart cards and cash. Furthermore, integrated fare collection is getting more and more common. Within the public transport sector different public transport operators integrate not only their fares, but also payment solutions for other transport solutions like car parking, car sharing, toll payment, and so on. There is also a clear trend to implement so-called ‘multiapplications’ where completely different services (social security, electronic purse, etc.) are integrated in one device. For the customer this ensures higher flexibility and makes everything easier to use. However, at the end of the day, the one who provides the services needs to be paid correctly, promptly and in a secure way. This is still a major challenge.
How to make money with ticketing?
Electronic ticketing systems are often seen as expensive investments in infrastructure. However, they can give direct access to the client and improved data on customer behaviour, providing an opportunity to optimise and individualise services. This results in an enhanced service for the customer that can justify a premium. Electronic ticketing can be part of an application that also helps developing loyalty schemes.
What role can harmonisation play?
A number of harmonisation initiatives dealing with automatic fare collection are ongoing either at the national level (Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, UK) or international level (TC224, TC278, Calypso). Mobile telephony has illustrated how getting together to define a global open standard can be a worthwhile investment for all players. Healthy competition between suppliers on the one hand, and operators on the other, has resulted in hundreds of millions of affordable devices being introduced into an interoperable environment. At this stage major deployments of electronic ticketing systems are being implemented. These are mainly local applications. However it is clear that synergies could be reached between cities if the GSM standard was applied to automatic fare collection. The question is if this model could be replicated since the market for electronic ticketing is highly influenced by local actors and situations. Another issue in this field is new payment applications like mobile phones and local electronic purses – often it is not clear yet if these are in line with existing legislation.
How are the others doing?
Public transport has been an innovator in automatic fare collection for years now. Today other sectors are also introducing payment systems and secure applications which are based on the same technology: electronic purses, ID systems for access control, applications for the management of personal data and so on. As these applications have slightly different priorities (e.g. security) than those used for public transport, it is certain that the transportation sector could learn from these experiences. Benchmarking between the different sectors will lead to new visions for all in this fast-moving field.
UITP’s 7th International Conference on Automatic Fare Collection will take place in Bologna, Italy, from 4 to 6 February 2004, during the EUROPOLIS Exhibition “Technologies for a liveable City.”
Fifteen years after the first edition of this conference, the number of delegates is still increasing, with nearly 500 people gathering in Bologna to discuss the latest evolutions and experiences in 2002. A call for paper for next year’s conference is now open and can be found at http:// www.uitp.com/Events/7th-confauto-fare/index.htm.
UITP welcomes contributions from the ticketing sector, so if you think you have interesting experiences to share please submit your abstract by 15 September 2003.
More about the UITP:
The International Association of Public Transport (UITP) is the international organisation for public transport authorities and operators, policy decision-makers, scientific institutes and the public transport supply and service industry. It is a platform for worldwide co-operation and the sharing of know-how between its 2,500 members from some 80 countries.