European ticketing news

Posted: 23 June 2006 | ET | No comments yet

The ticketing and automatic fare collection market is booming as the latest technology now ensures more reliable equipment, reduced maintenance costs, faster transactions and greater security. In this article we summarise the latest ticketing and automatic fare collection news from across Europe.

Integrated ticketing and fare collection systems specialist Thales has launched the TransCity Pass – its next-generation contactless ticketing and fare collection solution for bus operators. The company describes it as a complete secure modular ticketing solution that can readily adapt to all sizes of networks and corresponding passenger volumes.

The ticketing and automatic fare collection market is booming as the latest technology now ensures more reliable equipment, reduced maintenance costs, faster transactions and greater security. In this article we summarise the latest ticketing and automatic fare collection news from across Europe. Integrated ticketing and fare collection systems specialist Thales has launched the TransCity Pass – its next-generation contactless ticketing and fare collection solution for bus operators. The company describes it as a complete secure modular ticketing solution that can readily adapt to all sizes of networks and corresponding passenger volumes.

The ticketing and automatic fare collection market is booming as the latest technology now ensures more reliable equipment, reduced maintenance costs, faster transactions and greater security. In this article we summarise the latest ticketing and automatic fare collection news from across Europe.

Integrated ticketing and fare collection systems specialist Thales has launched the TransCity Pass – its next-generation contactless ticketing and fare collection solution for bus operators. The company describes it as a complete secure modular ticketing solution that can readily adapt to all sizes of networks and corresponding passenger volumes.

Based on European and international standards, the new bus ticketing solution is scalable and can integrate with existing and future interoperable fare models and accommodate virtually any fare rules and protocols. It authorises different types of fare structures according to the rules adopted by each operator for determining tariffs and the company states that fare media can be anonymous or personalised, paper (sold on buses) or contactless (single journey tickets, multi-journey cards, season passes, etc.). Contactless cards can be topped up in the normal way, as well as via voice server or over the internet.

The TransCity Pass comprises of on-board equipment (contactless validators, driver control units, validation and inspection terminals), automatic ticket issuing machines and simple sales terminals for authorised retailers. All these systems are linked to a central database. After each day’s business, the data stored on the on-board validators and driver control units is sent to the central system via data concentrators installed at each bus depot and a radio or WiFi link.

To guarantee optimal system security and to protect against ticket forgery and fare evasion, TransCity Pass uses a PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) architecture to encrypt data transferred between the back-office system and front-end equipment. This secure data channel can be used to distribute sensitive data, such as ticketing keys, fare tables and lists of lost or stolen cards. The PKI infrastructure also supports digital signatures and guarantees non-repudiation to enhance transaction security.

“Contactless technologies are gathering momentum in Europe as operators recognise their functional benefits and the cost savings they offer,” said Bruno Cohades, Vice President, Toll & Fare Collection Systems at Thales. “TransCity Pass is a fully configurable solution designed to bring the benefits of contactless technologies to bus networks of all sizes, from the smallest to the biggest and most complex.”

Thales has also been awarded the contract to supply a secure ticketing system for FTV Vicenza, the operator of the suburban bus network and several urban bus networks in the Italian province of Vicenza, in partnership with Italy’s PluService. The Italian bus operator is replacing its obsolete paper ticket based system with a next-generation solution that combines magnetic stripe cards and contactless technology. Once the new system is rolled out, 83 bus routes – the equivalent to 236 buses – will be equipped with the new technology.

The state-of-the-art ticketing system developed by Thales will enable FTV Vicenza to collect data on passenger bus usage to optimise vehicle management, integrate its equipment with the different systems employed by other operators and suppliers, and also allow passengers to top up or renew their travel cards over the Internet or via the telephone. In addition, the new system is fully compliant with the requirements of the directive recently issued by the Veneto Regional Authority, which requires the implementation of a fully integrated, automated, regional ticketing system.

The contract with Thales includes the supply of ticket issuing and validation and control equipment, such as magnetic and contactless validators, handheld validation units for checking tickets on-board buses, and automatic ticket issuing machines for installation at bus stations. Passengers will also have the option of purchasing tickets and travel passes using Thales ARTEMA point-of-sale terminals installed at authorised retail outlets. In addition, Thales is supplying the servers, the data concentrators at each bus depot and the central control system for the bus networks. PluService is providing the software for the central control system.

As part of the trial roll-out, the Italian operator also plans to install Thales entry and exit ticket validation units on 40 buses. The system is based on contactless cards, which operate as e-purses. When boarding the bus, passengers validate their cards and the maximum fare possible for a journey on that route is deducted. The card is then validated a second time upon leaving the bus and is re-credited in line with the exact fare for the journey made. If the trial proves successful, FTV Vicenza hopes to extend the system throughout its suburban bus network.

The new Thales system integrates seamlessly with the operator’s existing fleet management and vehicle positioning system, allowing it to locate buses and subsequently estimate journey distances and costs.

The initial test phase for the project will begin in November 2006 on 30 buses, with full-scale roll-out scheduled for the end of 2007.

At the end of last year US business process outsourcing and information technology provider, ACS, acquired Ascom’s Transport Revenue division. The acquisition involved all of Ascom’s sites in France, Switzerland, US, UK, Spain, Hong Kong, Mexico and Chile and its Highway Toll business in the Americas. The acquisition has led to the formation of the Transport Solutions division of ACS.

According to Eric Jean, former chairman of the board at Ascom S.A, the agreement was more than just a transfer of customer portfolios: “The merger aims to offer our Transport Revenue division the best possible environment for growing its competencies and satisfying its customers. Those customers will be able to take advantage of an extensive B.O.T. – Build, Operate, Transfer – offer. ACS is an expert in this type of contract, which involves the financing and operating of ticketing systems during a transitional period before hand-over.”

Currently there have been no organisational changes, with ACS maintaining all existing teams and divisions and Eric Jean is now the General Manager of ACS France. Speaking in his new position, Jean was keen to further point out the benefits of Ascom becoming part of ACS: “We will share the technology we have developed in public transport fare collection and car parks, and further enhance it with ACS’s expertise in the same fields.” In particular ACS is determined to achieve “real synergies between the major fare collection businesses – public transport, car parks and highways.” as the key technologies for these applications are the same.

Immediately following the sale of the Ascom’s Transport Revenue division, ACS Solutions Switzerland won a contract from Zürcher Verkehrsverbund (ZVV), the Zurich public transportation network, to supply a state-of-the-art automated fare collection system.

The deal includes supplying and maintaining 1,100 automatic ticket vending machines, plus 500 mobile ticketing devices for operation by bus drivers by the end of 2008. A contract for the first part of the project, worth CHF 1.37 million, is in place and ACS will be awarded the remainder of the work in the form of further contracts following the successful commissioning of the first phase of the project. ACS estimates the potential total worth of the contract at CHF 63 million (Swiss francs), or approximately $49 million.

The new ticket vending machines will feature touch screens that simplify the purchase of tickets. Besides single tickets and day passes, it will be possible to buy multi-ride tickets, monthly passes, and a selection of national tickets in addition to the Z-Pass range. The new user-friendly machines will accept electronic payment methods such as direct debit and credit cards, as well as cash.

“This contract underscores ACS’s leading position as a systems integrator and supplier of innovative and complex fare collection systems to public transportation operators,” said Tom Burlin, Group President of ACS Government Solutions Group. “We look forward to many years of serving the transportation needs of Zurich and other global cities.”

In the UK London Buses has renewed its service contract with Metric, a subsidiary of Höft & Wessel. Metric has also launched a new parking pay and display machine.

The agreement with London Buses follows on from a tender Metric won in 2001 to supply, install, operate and maintain ‘on-street’ ticket vending machines for buses in London. It was found after trialling that switching from ‘on-board’ to ‘on-street’ ticket vending resulted in shorter boarding and travel times and a decline in noise and exhaust pollution and today there are more than 1,150 of Metric’s Accent ticket vending machines in operation in London – selling over 2 million tickets worth more than ?3.5 million each month.

According to Metric, the requirements of the contract were quite demanding: “It entails overall responsibility for smooth 24/7 operation, full cash management services and the establishment of a call centre for inquiries from customers. In addition, the maintenance agreement calls for a maximum response time of one hour on 364 days of the year; whoever is familiar with London and its traffic situation will realise that this alone is virtually impossible to achieve.”

However, the company has been successful and now London Buses has renewed the service agreement for another two years – until October 2009. According to Höft & Wessel the contract means a sales volume of approximately ?12 million for Metric. Metric was also involved in the relocation of 450 of the vending machines to provide further relief for the routes that are particularly highly frequented. It estimates that this measure will result in approximately ?2 million in sales revenues.

Metric recently used Intertaffic 2006 as the platform on which to launch its new ‘Aura’ pay and display machine. The machine includes an advanced locking system, which the company claims will reset standards and satisfy customer’s security concerns.

Communication options now include GSM, GPRS, GPS, and WiFi. The machine is fully RoHS compliant (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) and has also been approved by the BCODP (British Council Of Disabled People) with regard to the DDA regulations. The Metric Aslan back office software is fully compatible with the new machine.

The Aura power supply options include mains, solar, or battery, with all options benefiting from a new and advanced low usage electronic power consumption module.

Cubic, the designer, provider and maintainer of the PRESTIGE/Oyster smart card fare collection system for London, has completed one of the first unattended Chip and PIN terminal networks in the UK. The network of unattended units on the Underground and some Docklands Light Railway (DLR) stations throughout London’s Oyster card transport system enable Transport for London’s customers to purchase travel tickets with debit or credit cards using Chip and PIN technology, without the need for a staff member to be present. The unattended payment devices have now been installed in 491 passenger operated ticket machines.

Cubic claims to have successfully addressed a number of challenges presented by Chip and PIN enabled Unattended Payment Terminal transactions, a type of payment which did not exist when Cubic first began developing its devices and supporting software for the integrated ticketing program.

In addition to completing the unattended network, Cubic also carried out a wider program of upgrading terminals across the Transport for London network. This included installing 600 PIN Entry Devices (PEDs) on ticket office machines at all 275 ticket offices in Tube stations. The PEDs are similar to those found in any retail setting, but the specification is designed to withstand the rugged transport environment.

In addition, Transport for London has agreed to pay for Oyster validation equipment to be provided for all London rail stations in Zones 1 – 6, although the train operators will have to install, operate and maintain the equipment. The deal will help London’s rail passengers get the full benefit of Oyster cards and lay the foundations for a nationally accepted smartcard ticketing scheme.

Transport for London has also agreed to work with the Department for Transport to ensure that all Oyster equipment is capable of accepting other smart cards. Announcing the deal, Douglas Alexander the new Transport Secretary said: “This is a major step forward in ensuring that all passengers can benefit from the improvements new technology can bring. It lays the foundation for a national integrated ticketing scheme that will mean more flexible, quicker and simpler tickets for all public transport passengers.”

The Mayor for London Ken Livingstone said: “The extension of Oyster from just sixty rail stations to over three hundred under this agreement marks a massive step towards a fully integrated ticketing system in London, enabling passengers to move easily between rail, Tube, DLR, tram and bus using an Oyster card and without having to buy separate tickets. It will deliver a real improvement to the journeys of thousands of Londoners who currently cannot take advantage of the benefits of Oyster.

“This agreement between myself, the Secretary of State and Transport for London means Oyster card technology will be installed at National Rail stations, ensuring that passengers will now be able to take full advantage of Oyster, which can be topped-up conveniently, offers cheaper fares and speeds up journeys.”

Peter Hendy, Transport for London Commissioner, said: “This plan will bring London’s transport network one step closer to being properly integrated, as Transport for London’s services have been for several years. It resolves the problem passengers currently face of having to buy two separate tickets to travel on overground rail and Transport for London services. This is an unprecedented opportunity to extend the convenience of Oyster to thousands more Londoners.”

The introduction of Oyster technology could start this year at gated stations and once worked through with train operators, Oyster pay-as-you-go could be available at National Rail stations in London during 2008.

Currently there are only 60 London National Rail stations where passengers can use Pay-as-you-go.

On-street / off-street parking and automated fare collection specialist Parkeon has been chosen by RATP (Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens), the Paris transport authority, to modernise its passenger ticket sales infrastructure. Parkeon will supply the RATP with a new automated ticket sales machine. This is a major contract for the company, the price of which is estimated at nearly €35 million.

Installed in metro and RER stations, the automated dispensing and recharging machines will complement the RATP’s existing sales infrastructures as well as improving their automation, their security and their availability. The deployment of the new terminals should start in 2008.

Using this ‘universal’ machine, RATP customers will be able to purchase and recharge Navigo contactless pass (the travelcard for the Ile de France region) or obtain all conventional magnetic tickets and eventually contactless tickets using an extended range of modes of payment: coins, bank notes and credit cards.

The contract comes just as the Navigo pass will be extended to all ‘carte Orange’ travelcard zones. The machine will also assist the partially sighted purchase tickets as it with a specially adapted interface.

“Transport safety and high quality of service objectives: that is the basis of our commitments to passengers and the Ile de France transport organising authority, the STIF,” said Philippe Martin, RATP’s Managing Director for Spaces, Services and Sales. “This new automated equipment project testifies to our desire to upgrade our sales systems to provide a service better suited to our customers’ expectations: easier access to our network, diversity in the places and means of dispensing of tickets and increased availability of sales equipment.”

Philippe Millet, Parkeon’s Transport Director, commented: “This project is fully in line with Parkeon’s expertise. We have proven know-how in the field of automated equipment applied to the transport market. Our terminals owe their reputation both to their sturdiness, reliability and user-friendliness and to the technologies and innovations they incorporate. However, to ensure the success of the present project, we have also taken into account the constraints linked to the specific characteristics of our customer’s environment, particularly the safety of passengers and operating personnel.”

Martin added: “Parkeon has fully integrated the answers to these specific needs in its offer, to provide passengers with the best in public transport service while at the same time guaranteeing optimum economic efficiency; all of these factors naturally led us to place our trust in them again for this major project for the RATP.”

Parkeon has also won a contract from ATAC, the City of Rome’s parking and transport operator, to provide 2,000 of its new Strada solar-powered pay & display terminals. Parkeon will replace 1,250 ageing DG4 Parkeon terminals (1,600 of which are currently still in operation in the streets of Rome) and it has established a 6-year full-service agreement for the complete maintenance of ATAC’s whole P&D fleet.

According to Parkeon, the new Strada offers high security with armoured steel, on-line attack detection and e-lock capabilities. Terminals accept bank card payments, prepaid smartcard payments and have been configured to accept new payment means in the future. The ‘Service Level Agreement’ specifies that the new system must comply to above 99% machine ‘up-time’ and Parkeon must service machines that are not working within a maximum of 4 hours.

Rome’s P&Ds will be interconnected via a wireless GPRS network and managed by Parkeon’s back-office system Parkfolio. Parkeon’s data management and financial reporting software platform will help the operator ease revenue consolidation and improve enforcement procedures by indicating when and where control is required.

“To win this ?15.7 m contract, one of the largest worldwide on-street parking market tenders ever issued, Parkeon placed the emphasis on a highly available infrastructure monitored in real-time that significantly improves operations efficiency and revenue management,” said Yves Chambeau, President of Parkeon.

Integrated fare management and software systems specialist ERG has installed a smart card system on 350 buses in the town of Gironde in the Bordeaux region of France, which will go live this week.

The system will allow the use of paper tickets, magnetic stripe tickets and smart cards and is designed to increase passenger convenience.

According to Christophe Sanglier, International Sales Executive at ERG: “the system is really rather interesting because it is the first of its type in France that uses GPRS to communicate between the buses and the central system at the depot. Previously operators had to wait until the bus returned to the depot to receive/send the ticketing information – but now this can be done on the move.

The system is also interoperable with the neighbouring buses and trams of Bordeaux.”

ERG Transit Systems (UK) Ltd has announced that it has been selected as preferred supplier by Stagecoach to supply ERG’s ITSO conditionally certified fare collection solution for Stagecoach bus operations in Scotland, in a deal expected to be worth more than £2.3 million.

After an extensive appraisal process of all potential vendors, ERG’s TP5000 Electronic Ticketing Machine and TRACS Depot software, including wireless LAN capability, were selected.

In late 2005 ERG was included in the framework agreement by the Scottish Executive to be an official supplier of ticketing equipment to operators taking part in the Scottish National Concessionary Travel Scheme.

“I am delighted with this news so soon after the announcement concerning our conditional ITSO certification. We will continue to provide the highest level of service and support as a key supplier to Stagecoach in Scotland,” said Jay Prothero, Managing Director of ERG Transit Systems (UK).

The roll out of approximately 1,600 ticket machines and 40 depots will take place across Scotland during the remainder of 2006.

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