article

E-ticketing in German public transport

Posted: 19 September 2005 | Hansjoerg Roehrich, Managing Director and Peter Preuss, Head of Strategy & Innovation, Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund GmbH | No comments yet

For years, smart card technology has been very successful in Europe and this process will – in the opinion of all experts – decisively accelerate in future.

Nearly all essential fields of life have been influenced by this technology. Whether the health service, paying functions at the supermarket, bank transactions or rights of access – the list could be continued for hours on end. In addition, studies prove that electronic distribution channels, in particular due to their favourable costs, also gain importance. This mainly refers to the internet as well as to mobile phones. All these studies show clearly that the introduction of such innovative technologies improves reputation and provides better business results. Without doubt it offers the chance of utilising a new marketing tool to generate additional profits. It provides the opportunity to learn more about the using habits of the customers as well as to adjust the products to better suit the customer’s needs. Thus, it is surprising that the modernisation of distribution channels and the introduction of smart card technology plays a more decisive role in public transport abroad than in Germany.

For years, smart card technology has been very successful in Europe and this process will – in the opinion of all experts – decisively accelerate in future.Nearly all essential fields of life have been influenced by this technology. Whether the health service, paying functions at the supermarket, bank transactions or rights of access – the list could be continued for hours on end. In addition, studies prove that electronic distribution channels, in particular due to their favourable costs, also gain importance. This mainly refers to the internet as well as to mobile phones. All these studies show clearly that the introduction of such innovative technologies improves reputation and provides better business results. Without doubt it offers the chance of utilising a new marketing tool to generate additional profits. It provides the opportunity to learn more about the using habits of the customers as well as to adjust the products to better suit the customer’s needs. Thus, it is surprising that the modernisation of distribution channels and the introduction of smart card technology plays a more decisive role in public transport abroad than in Germany.

For years, smart card technology has been very successful in Europe and this process will – in the opinion of all experts – decisively accelerate in future.

Nearly all essential fields of life have been influenced by this technology. Whether the health service, paying functions at the supermarket, bank transactions or rights of access – the list could be continued for hours on end. In addition, studies prove that electronic distribution channels, in particular due to their favourable costs, also gain importance. This mainly refers to the internet as well as to mobile phones. All these studies show clearly that the introduction of such innovative technologies improves reputation and provides better business results. Without doubt it offers the chance of utilising a new marketing tool to generate additional profits. It provides the opportunity to learn more about the using habits of the customers as well as to adjust the products to better suit the customer’s needs. Thus, it is surprising that the modernisation of distribution channels and the introduction of smart card technology plays a more decisive role in public transport abroad than in Germany.

The structure of German public transport is surely a factor that aggravates the introduction of smart card technology and the modernisation of distribution channels in Germany. The transport companies are integrated in public transport authorities with nearly country wide coverage. This means, that the demands for a uniform tariff with a uniform ticket which are often connected with the introduction of smart cards in other countries, have already been realised in German associations, not in electronic form, but as a uniform paper ticket. Unlike abroad, smart card ticketing does not promote the connection of several public or private companies that find themselves on an electronic media, but the association already reflects price, service and timetable as an essential element of its function. One consequence is therefore that each change in existing structures and processes is considered critical..

Even though the structure and organisation of the German public transport market seems to slow the development down, first efforts have been successful to introduce regional smart card schemes, such as for annual ticket holders in the Rhine-Ruhr public transport authority. Other regions are working on pilot systems to test customer acceptance as well as technical feasibility. A German wide standard for electronic ticketing, the VDV Core Applications has been released earlier this year. Thus German public transport is on the edge of introducing smart cards schemes in large scale. Besides, the internet has been successfully utilised as an electronic distribution channel by the German long distance railway, Deutsche Bahn. Already, 8per cent of all tickets for long distance travel have been sold via the internet, according to Deutsche Bahn.

Mobile Ticketing in public transport

In the discussion on electronic ticketing in Germany the issue of mobile ticketing (mobile phone ticketing) has emerged during the past three years. Based on the idea that nearly every second German citizen has a mobile phone the question arises why this fact should not be considered more intensively with regard to the introduction of modern ticketing media. From the transport company’s point of view the simultaneous application of the mobile phone as a selling terminal and carrier media for products and services is an essential advantage of the mobile phone. Compared to the smart card, the mobile phone offers users the advantage of an insight in the stored or loaded electronic tickets without any problems at any time. Despite these obvious advantages as a ticket in public transport the mobile phone has not yet been used with global coverage – except some local implementations such as Helsinki, Finland. Two relevant procedures are being offered for mobile phone ticketing on the German and European market: SMS-based ticketing and JAVA (Application) based ticketing. The question is: how to integrate it straight away in existing Electronic Ticketing Systems? For the two offered mobile ticketing solutions the answer is difficult. This might be the reason for the hesitating introduction of the mobile phone. On the other hand, the realisation of a complex tariff requires much energy when using the above-mentioned procedure. As regards the handling of the mobile phone, the procedure is not as convenient as an electronic smart card. It is rather like an existing ticket machine in the customer’s pocket.

Mobile phone ticketing using NFC-technology

A new technology has come to the attention of experts and the public: Near Field Communication (NFC). Developed by Philips and Sony, the first ticketing applications have been tested for public transport in pilot tests around the world, e.g. in Germany and the Far East.

The NFC-chip is the basis of the NFC-technology. The chip is connected with an antenna and enables the communication between mobile devices via a distance of up to 15cm. Just by a simple touch two NFC-devices can identify each other and exchange information. The energy required for the communication is generated through induction analogously to the smart card. If the NFC-chip is connected with a processor chip then encrypted reading and safe storing of data, such as high-value tickets and applications will be possible on mobile devices.

The compatibility with existing applications on the basis of the worldwide smart card standard ISO 14443 enables various possibilities of application together with the NFC-technology, not only in the field of public transport, but also on the entire transport and mobility market, e.g. car park management. Apart from this, further wireless applications are likely on the same mobile phone, e.g. in banking or credit card. The advantage is that existing infrastructures or those being established as well as already established organisational processes can be used without costly adaptations.

Due to the novelty of this technology it is difficult to grasp when NFC technology will enter the mass market. First results of field tests, such as that in Hanau, Germany have already shown promising results.

NFC-Mobile phone ticketing in Hanau

Together with partners Nokia and Philips the Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund has implemented the pilot project ’NFC Mobile Phone Ticketing‘ in Hanau, near Frankfurt/Main, Germany. The field trial aims at testing the application of the NFC-technology in practical operation. Furthermore, the customer’s acceptance of the mobile phone as a carrier media for public transport tickets shall be evaluated.

Since the beginning of May 2005, 200 participants have been using mobile phones within an existing smart card ticketing system. Thus it is possible to use all lines of the Hanau city bus network on the basis of a check-in check-out procedure with post-paid best price billing. The passengers only have to present their mobile phones a short distance in front of the reader terminals when entering and leaving the bus. These terminals were installed for the smart card scheme in the Hanau busses in 2002. The users automatically receive a feedback telling them whether their log-in and log-off were successful. The travelling data is stored both in the vehicle terminal as well as on the Smart-Card-Chip safely integrated in the mobile phone. The travelling data stored in the vehicle terminal is automatically transferred to the background system where it is collected and further processed.

Like the 6,000 users of the smart card scheme the participants in the pilot trial get an invoice at the end of each month. This invoice contains, similar to the telephone bill, a list of the trips undertaken and the prices.

In parallel to the 200 testers, the conductors of the local bus company, HSB, also got mobile phones to control the customers’ mobile phones and the smart cards being in circulation.

Technical parameters

The customer and control mobile phones that are used in the Hanau NFC-mobile phone ticketing project are the customary Nokia 3220 mobile phones equipped with a special back cover. This contains the required NFC and smart card chip components that might be integrated later in the mobile phone bodywork. The selected chip architecture enables the external data communication according to ISO 14443 as well as NFC IP-1. The smart card chips installed in the mobile phones are equipped with the card OS JCOP41v2.2 and include the actual ticketing application. The latter is a JAVA emulation of Starcos S2.1 CL application of the smart cards being used in the Hanau system.

To show the information stored on the smart card chip the customers’ mobile phones get a special JAVA (J2ME) Midlet. With its help it is possible to browse the last five journey records and also to protect the application with a personal code as well as to deactivate the application on the smart card chip. The control mobile phones are equipped with a special J2ME Control Midlet that enables the electronic reading and the automatic assessment of the journey records of the customers’ mobile phones as well as of the smart cards being in circulation.

Outlook

First surveys show a positive reaction of the participants of the NFC-mobile ticketing pilot project in Hanau. The persons asked have been particularly satisfied with the easy handling of the mobile phone and the additional features of the mobile phone to browse the undertaken journeys.

A next step within the framework of the pilot trial is to use the NFC – mobile phone as a loading unit and selling terminal for applications, value units and tickets. In particular the electronic control of the ticket acquired by the customer enables the integration of the NFC-ticket in existing infrastructures and smart card systems as well as the flexible use of the mobile phone for existing applications.

At present, it is not possible to make predictions on the development of the mobile phone being available with NFC functionality. All solutions in use are exclusively of a prototype nature. Apart from the integration NFC-technology in as many mobile phones as possible and of all manufacturers, different organisational issues have not yet been finally solved, such as over the air personalisation of the application and administration of the keys for the smart card platform in the mobile phone. The release of the first NFC-products such as the Nokia NFC-shell for Nokia 3220 phones as well as the efforts to integrate NFC and smart card chip technology on the SIM-card of the mobile phone, like the USIM from Giesecke & Devrient, are first steps towards a distribution of the NFC-technology with full coverage.

Despite the obviously difficult start and the tasks still to be carried out, mobile phone ticketing is not a vision any longer, but is just forthcoming. The hope is to find a way to introduce NFC mobile phones as one media within existing and evolving smart card schemes. The foundation and the development of the NFC-forum to fix international standards on NFC show the high interest in NFC. It can be thus assumed that the necessary organisational and technical solutions will be found in the near future. Now the application engineers, the transport operators and transport associations as well as the operators of smart card systems are faced with the challenge to develop a uniform application of the mobile phone ticketing together with the industry.

HOW DO WE DEVELOP BETTER INTEGRATION BETWEEN MODES?

Gregers Mogensen, Senior Advisor, Rejsekort A/S

Given the mixed technologies at play, and a mixture of private and public markets, how do we make integration work for the benefit of customers and operators?

Gregers Mogensen, Senior Advisor at Rejsekort A/S will explain why transport as we know it is entering a period of disruption at the Intelligent Transport conference being held in London on 31 October 2017…

Download the Conference programme here



Send this to a friend