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Fare collection requirements for today’s transit systems

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Contents About INIT

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By Ryan Zemmer

Three requirements for EFM projects

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By Ann Derby

Five questions to ask when planning an E-Fare strategy

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By Stan Craft

Requirements for your back-office EFM system

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By Stan Craft

Download the Motorcoach risk management and loss prevention: Volume 1 eBook

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INIT is the worldwide leading supplier of Intelligent Transportation Systems and Electronic Ticketing Systems for public transportation. Public transport is an indispensable part of a modern society. As one of the world’s leading suppliers in the area of Intelligent Transportation Systems and electronic fare collection systems for public transit, INIT assists companies in making public transit services more attractive, faster and more efficient. In more than 400 successfully realized projects worldwide, INIT has gained a unique knowledge of the needs of public transit agencies. The result is a fully integrated range of solutions for all key tasks of a transit company. INIT uses innovative mobility concepts to give forward-thinking transit companies a technical advantage. This may take the shape of favorable standards or customer-specific, tailor-made solutions. As a supplier of turnkey systems, INIT develops, produces, installs, and maintains integrated hardware and software solutions. Benefits include increased efficiency, higher safety and greater passenger satisfaction.

Visit www.INITUSA.com!

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Three requirements for EFM projects

At left: Agencies must provide technology to meet the requirements of today’s passengers.

By Ann Derby

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Public transit must address the challenges that have evolved through the global use of modern information tools. In our dynamic and fastpaced world, understanding the requirements of passengers is a key factor for success. This means that access to transit services and information should be easier and more user-friendly. With modern electronic fare management systems, the use of mobile phone payments and the EMV standard have many implications regarding these requirements. After all, next to cost, customer requirements are the most important consideration for new technology applications. Specifically, certain factors should be considered when creating a long-term system integration plan.

When serving the unique requirements of each company, multiclient solutions are also more economical. An example would be when functions are not used by all clients in the system. The specific costs are distributed to each client based only on the features that they really need, but each is able to benefit from the customized product development.

Functionality Today, fewer and fewer transport companies are installing completely new systems. This may be due to the presence of pre-existing system components or because funds are only approved for sub-projects due to cost. What that means for the industry is that new technologies, such as software and vehicle equipment, must be capable of being easily incorporated into existing infrastructures while still being flexible for the adoption of future technologies. For instance, using a common system platform to process the exchange of both vehicle and fare data eliminates the necessity for additional onboard equipment. This approach saves on the expense of new implementations, while also conserving valuable vehicle space. Another consideration involves integrating fare functionalities using current onboard equipment. For instance, it is possible to combine fare functions within a mobile data terminal which would allow passengers to swipe their smart card or mobile tickets when boarding. At the same time drivers would continue to enjoy all the navigation functions needed. This option allows agencies to more efficiently manage their resources.

Third-party integration Modern e-fare systems also require third party system integration. Banks, vendors and retail outlets where passengers manage their fare transactions must be connected in order to provide the up-to-date, real-time services passengers have come to expect. Open Application Programming Interfaces (API) allow seamless integration with existing infrastructure and third party systems. These interfaces give passengers the ability to conveniently open new, or top up existing accounts through retail outlets. The advantages for passengers are easier access to public transit and better mobility within their city and surrounding region. In this environment, it is important to have an experienced partner since not all ITS providers can successfully navigate this ever-changing landscape. INIT incorporates the complete range of requirements into one fully integrated system. Modularly designed solutions help to create a stable platform that makes it much easier to build and activate client-specific requirements. This process also avoids the risk of errors and cost overrides that would exist in a newly developed specific solution.

Multi-client capable Transport companies can also share costs and provide better services through multi-client integrations. When passengers consider their options for travel, multi-client systems provide better connectivity and higher satisfaction, which subsequently increases ridership and revenue. The benefit for agencies is that the cost of developing new functions can be shared across multiple customers. This is especially valuable for smaller companies because they no longer have to worry about the management of certain tasks such as an IT system, but can allocate this task to the combined transit network. However, multi-client e-fare systems do raise some questions, such as how to protect sensitive company data. Today’s systems allow agencies to define company-specific requirements while at the same time protect sensitive company data against unauthorized access. Autonomy permits the providers to remain independent, while simultaneously sharing information as needed and continuing to effectively compete for business.

Passenger requirements Today’s passengers require faster, more contemporary and convenient choices. Incorporating modern e-fare technologies through an integrated approach will provide a greater number of attractive services to passengers, as well as a more economically sustainable solution for transportation providers. While the use of innovative tools in public transit will continue to grow, getting ahead of the curve will mean exceeding today’s tech-savvy passenger requirements. In the end, integrated systems will take us one step closer to a more accessible and user-friendly transportation experience while giving passengers one more reason to choose public transit.

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Ann Derby is director, marketing and events at INIT Innovations in Transportation, Inc.

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QUESTIONS to ask when planning an E-Fare strategy By Stan Craft

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here are many reasons to implement an Electronic Fare Management (EFM) system. The riding public enjoys the benefits of convenient methods of purchasing tickets, faster boarding and the simplicity of switching between transport modes. Transit agencies benefit through increased ridership, operational efficiencies, reduced costs and greater security. However, selecting an electronic fare collection system requires a high level of planning, coordination and cooperation between all parties involved. This article explains the basics of EFM, the technologies involved and the five questions to ask potential vendors while planning an E-Fare strategy. EFM systems are typically comprised of the following components: • Fare media • Devices to read / write media • Depot / station ticket vending machines • Back office systems • Relationship with central clearing houses

Mobile tickets reduce the production and distribution costs connected with traditional paper-based ticketing channels and increase customer convenience. Visually-validated tickets require the driver’s assistance by examining the time and date stamp on the ticket. Barcode-based tickets require a laser scanner and QR code-based tickets require a camera based imager. Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) bank cards are the future of e-fare. EMV is a technical standard for smart payment cards, payment terminals and automated teller machines. These smartcards (also called chip cards) store their data on integrated circuits rather than magnetic stripes, although many EMV cards also have stripes for backward compatibility.

Fare media – As technology changes rapidly, the choice of electronic fare media is crucial to not only how the new system will be accepted today, but also, what the system will look like 10 or 15 years down the road. Ten years from now, will decisions show that the agency chose technologies able to keep pace with the trends of the future? Contact and contactless Smartcards offer identity information, authentication and data storage. Contact Smartcards must be inserted into a reader while contactless Smartcards offer the advantage of operating in the proximity of the reader by using radio frequency (RF) induction technology. Smartcards may come in the form of electronic wallets where the smartcard chip is “loaded” with funds. This media eliminates the need for a real-time connection to a bank or central system. Smartcards require the agency to set up issuing mechanisms such as kiosks and / or customer service centers, as well as devices to read and write to the media. Based on their flexibility and security, ID-based Smartcards provide benefits for both the agency and their riders. With ID-based smartcards, a tiny embedded microchip generates a unique code specific to the rider each time the card is used. The card is linked to a rider’s account where their information and subsequent fare calculations are processed. Security is greater with ID-based cards since the rider’s identification and payment information are safely stored in the back-office system. If the card is lost or stolen, it can simply be blocked and reissued. ID-based cards also benefit the agency by providing a more comprehensive view of riding patterns. This data will help the agency identify and tailor services around high-usage times and locations. ID-based smart cards reduce boarding time at the stops and the use of cash fares. Mobile ticketing is the process whereby customers can order, pay for, obtain and/or validate tickets using mobile devices.

Smartcards offer the advantage of operating in the proximity of a reader by using radio frequency induction technology.

Future systems will very likely need to support multi-client capability as well as provide a revenue management solution to define individual agency parameters while at the same time protect important fare and revenue data. Also, Open Application Programming Interfaces (API) and third-party system integration are critical to the success of the entire system. Ask these five questions while planning an E-Fare strategy: 1. Which media should the agency use: smartcards, barcoded tickets, or mobile tickets? Or, should the agency embrace the credit card open payment method EMV? 2. How will the system integrate with already existing ITS systems and infrastructure? 3. Will the solution help ease the arduous task of connecting with retail partners and suppliers? 4. Will the agency need to accept fares from several other agencies today or in the future? 5. How will transfers be handled? The technologies available and the vendors to partner with offer an agency many options. Yet each transit agency, large and small, should weigh the pros and cons carefully before choosing the solution that meets their needs today and in the future. Stan Craft is system architect at INIT Innovations in Transportation, Inc. Visit www.initusa.com.

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Requirements for your back-office EFM system By Stan Craft Open architecture The back-office system is the focal point of your EFM structure. It supports the processing of fare transactions, passenger information, third party interfaces and clearing houses, as well as provides system security for fraud management, system maintenance, reporting, and more. Open architecture has become more and more important as systems grow larger and more complex. It is vital to have a system that supports open interfaces and is modular in nature. You will need the flexibility in the future to update and modify peripherals, add new modules, and to perhaps change equipment providers. Flexible management Fare collection involves the processing of passenger payments when they purchase tickets and the debiting of tickets as passengers use your transit system. The back-office system must recognize your various fare structures and respond in real time as fares are changed and updated. Although there are many similarities, there are some crucial differences between a normal retail environment and transit payment systems. • Inherent with the technology, a vehicle’s online connection to the backend system may be intermittent and must be planned for. • Boarding time is critical to schedule adherence, therefore payment validation has to be less than a second. • Fare rules are complex with capping, best price calculations, multiple agencies, etc. Your choice of vendors must factor heavily towards providers with this kind of experience. • Web portals must provide an enjoyable experience for riders to purchase tickets, reload cards, report lost, stolen or replacement cards, as well as review fares and fare rules. In addition, there are some important features to look for with your back-end processing system: Comprehensive reporting Modern systems, particularly those that exploit the benefits of smart media, generate significant amounts of data. Using data warehouse techniques and analysis tools, your systems should be able to identify trends and respond to them quickly by turning the data into meaningful information. Administration tools support your daily management functions and should include the ability to set your fares and fare structure, manage media registrations, control devices and secure important data. Reporting provides real-time and historical as well as forecast views of transit operations and ridership assessments. Online dashboards of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) with the ability to generate alerts will allow you to identify problem trends before they affect service. Reports should include analytical views, event processing, performance management and predictive analytics. 6

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Back-office processing and clearing systems are essential for managing today’s comprehensive e-fare systems.

Fraud and maintenance management Fraud management is essential to support the requirement to blacklist lost or stolen media or to temporarily block usage based upon rules such as tickets valid for special events, or valid only day-time windows like with school transit tickets. A comprehensive maintenance module will provide the key information required to manage your central system and peripheral hardware. KPI’s will notify the team of trends, and real-time monitoring identifies failed component(s) along with their configuration, hardware and software revisions. Data should be available by vehicle, by vehicle type, and by device to name a few. Provisions for scheduling uploads and downloads to field devices using a variety of wired or wireless communications also needs to be supported. The back-office system monitors on-board equipment, generates various reports, and interfaces to work management systems, which allows administrators to proactively maintain the systems for high availability. Status and alarm information that can be routed to email recipients and mobile devices allow for real-time notification of your IT staff, maintenance personnel, supervisors and administrators, if action is required. Summary and conclusion Finding the right back-office solution for your agency depends on many factors. Key to a successful deployment is identifying and communicating your unique set of requirements to your potential vendors. Writing clear specifications in your RFP will help you deliver the best outcome for a future-proof system. This is essential for your business goals today, and for keeping you on the cutting-edge of backoffice system technology in the future. Next in the series, we will explore Application Programming Interfaces (API) and why third-party system integration services are critical to the success of the entire system. Stan Craft is the system architect for INIT Innovations in Transportation, Inc. Visit www.initusa.com.

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Fare collection requirements for today's transit systems  

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