Smart Ticketing

Smart Ticketing – A new Alliance to break through interoperability barriers
John Verity, Chief Advisor, ITSO Limited, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom

[an edited transcription by Johan van Ieperen – previously published on myUITP]

The Smart Ticketing Alliance represents a platform for cooperation and a coordinated approach for establishing ticketing interoperability for the Public Transport sector. It is an initiative by Calypso Networks Association, AFIMB (France), ITSO (UK), VDV (Germany) and UITP.

Smarter Travel

Smarter Travel is about joining up the different elements of a journey the passenger wants to make. We start with giving the customer the information necessary to plan the itinerary from one door to another door. Their journey goes from A to B and may cover many different modes of travel: on foot, bicycle, taxi, bus, tram metro, local, regional, national and international trains and even air travel. We are already well on our way on sharing the level of information necessary for our customers to plan that entire journey (e.g. through Open Data, using third party developers creating Journey Planner Applications).

The Smart Ticketing Alliance (STA) works from the other extreme: providing the permission to undertake that journey (booking the travel entitlements: the tickets)! Interoperable ticketing requires working towards specifications to put all those permissions inside and alongside in an electronic wallet.

It does not matter whether that wallet contains real tickets or just a token which refers to a back office where the data necessary to identify you during that journey. Furthermore, it can be pay-to-go, or a post paid system. In fact, it can be free of charge (i.e. concessionary fares – even if you do not have to pay a cent, you still have to be able to prove that you can travel for free).

When travel information and ticketing come together, the circle can be closed. We can actually start to redefine the journey based on real time information when there are disruptions in the services. The customer could receive a new itinerary and new permissions to travel using available alternatives.


Smart Travel is about seamless mobility – to take away barriers even if that leg of the trip does not cost anything, like for walking. It has to cover all the elements (connections, itinerary, ticketing, and payment) from door to door, the last mile, for all modes, and across all borders.

Not one size fits all – we have to recognise this as a fact: there needs to be a balance between subsidiarity and interoperability. We are not going to provide one ticket that covers the entire journey. We will have to accept local solutions which are only applicable in that certain area. This requires a bottom-up approach (not top-down).

Taking the United Kingdom as an example where there is true interoperability on the rail network: with s about 2.800 stations, in theory, the matrix counts 2.800 x 2.800 travel possibilities. But when including the different fares, the matrix counts over 300 million cells! If the UK system is to be expanded to a European wide system including all transport modes then clearly that is moving many steps too far.

Moreover, we need to have an Open Architecture and Specifications for the way in which we will hold those permissions to travel. We already have Open Data in terms of Journey Planning (time tables, stop / station / facility locations, are they accessible, lifts and escalator status, etc) but we also have to look at ticketing in this way. Here we also have inter-/multi-/co-modal, cross-border, multi operated journeys, and all of those tickets can reside in that same single wallet which the customer then feels covers the whole of their journey unlike the situation today, scrabbling in their pockets for a collection of different sized tickets, some smart, some paper, some A4 sized or little bits of paper that get lost easily in the folds of your physical wallet. We have to be open and have a single specification for all of that

Smart Ticketing

In addition to the above, smart ticketing will have to include: Point-to-Point Tickets; period passes; concessionary travel; pay-on-entry and pay-as-you-go; and complex specialised ticketing requirements (e.g. Apex, reservations, venue entry). The Smart Ticketing Alliance is looking at the specifications and underlying requirements that are there in order to encourage integrated travel.


The results from the EU IFM project (Interoperable Fare Management) nearly 4 years ago found that Public Transport needs interoperability at three levels: Local Schemes (to move within a city, within a region); National Schemes (within a state or a country); and International Schemes (especially where there is the employment, recreational or other reasons for cross-border travel between countries).

We are not talking about having to use the same tickets everywhere to cover all and the whole of such journeys, but there needs to be the interoperability of the single tickets so they can all be held in the same place. To avoid any misunderstanding: the type or price of the interoperable tickets is not subject to standardisation – only the way we handle them!

The EU IFM project has now moved forward into the Smart Ticketing Alliance.


The Alliance is going to provide a number of smart ticketing deliverables required for the wider smarter travel environment:

  • Seamless integration between journey planning, retailing, ticketing and real-time information using the traveller’s preferred media (e.g. a bank card or their mobile phone). The standards and specifications must be open enough to cover all of those media’s requirements.
  • We must be able to link-in to a One Stop smart access to public transport (e.g. a web portal) which in turn is linked with wider entitlements  (e.g. concessionary travel, integrated Student Cards, social entitlement) or Event Management – a greater need for wider integration is ahead.
  • Where payment does take place, it has to co-reside in a comparable parallel way. Only about 30% of the journeys across Europe actually involve payment at the point of taking that journey!

In the UK, students are beginning to drive the developments in public transport. Recent statistics show, that for the first time ever, the young age group up to the age of 25, now exceeds the over 60 group of being the major user of buses. Traditionally it was always the older you got the more you use the bus, now it is switching the other way around!

STA Goals

  • Cooperation between national and regional Smart Ticketing schemes to establish interoperable Smart Ticketing in Europe and elsewhere.
  • Develop, agree and publish the functional and technical requirements for smart ticketing interoperability
  • Cooperation for the establishment of Trust Schemes, Specifications and Certification
  • Cooperation with other European and International Bodies to promote interoperability in Smart Ticketing

Increasingly the customer will bring his own smart medium (e.g. thier mobile phone or tablet). We need to be able to trust those media. At the same time, the customers are only going to use smart cards if they trust them to hold their tickets securely, particularly when they have a high value – some annual UK rail tickets can cost in excess of 20.000 Euros. This is even a challenge for mobile network operators who tend to think in phone calls costing in the area of Euros or even tens of Euros but not thousends of Euros.

The STA works closely together with CEN (European standardisation body), GSMA (the association of all mobile network operators), the NFC Forum (Handset manufacturers), UIC and Unife (rail sector), etc.


Open Standards, Specifications and Certification offer the public transport sector a unique opportunity:

  • Create ticketing interoperability between schemes
  • Co-exist with other Applications
  • Use 3rd party media (e.g. mobile phones)
  • Access to Best Practice (sharing findings and innovation)
  • Benefit from scale economics in product development,  procurement and speed of implementation
  • Provide a Trusted Service based on Minimum Specifications, Open Standards and Composite Certification

Opportunities for Smart Ticketing in the wider environment:

  • Door-to-door travel integration – seamless integration between Journey Planning, Retailing, Ticketing and Real Time Information
  • Full integration between bus and rail: making multi-modal / multi-operator really happen
  • One smart access to Public Transport and wider Entitlements  (e.g. concessionary travel, integrated Student Cards, social entitlement) – Venue and Event integration with Public Transport
  • Enhanced Modal Switching as part of a wider greening of  transport – Integration with Car and Bike hire schemes
  • One-stop opportunities with NFC-enabled Mobile Phones – linking to the retail business – – +44 1908 255 455 –

ITSO, European Standardisation and the Smart Ticketing Alliance

John Verity is Chief Advisor to ITSO Limited. John sits on the ISO/CEN Standardisation committees overseeing smartcards in transport and supports both the UITP and the European Commission as an expert on Smart Ticketing. He was co-ordinator of the European funded project to develop a roadmap towards Europe-wide interoperability for Smart Ticketing. Eurotransport, Volume 11, Issue 3, 2013, page 51-52. ITSO, European Standardisation and the Smart Ticketing Alliance

John Verity outlines the aims of a new alliance which aims to make it possible to travel on all forms of public transport throughout Europe using a single specification NFC- (Near Field
Communications) enabled smartphone.


Share this

The importance of sharing knowledge and experience

Bas van Os has been involved in all phases of the OV-chipkaart project in the Netherlands over the past 12 years. Bas is currently responsible for the Open Ticketing Institute – set-up to promote innovation and knowledge-sharing between ‘sister schemes’ in public transport. Eurotransport, Volume 11, Issue 3, 2013, page 54-56. The importance of sharing knowledge and experience

Ticketing used to simply be a business function of public transport. Now it has become a business sector in itself…but not for long. What started as a modernisation of paper and magnetic tickets has now become part of a larger wave of technological innovation and social change. In countries with strong public transport offerings, e-Ticketing will be one of the enablers of the integration of the physical and virtual worlds in which people move, work, play and consume.

Share this

Denmark – how a transport ticketing solution became a country-wide experience

Gregers Mogensen is Senior Advisor at Rejsekort A/S. Eurotransport, Volume 11, Issue 3, 2013, page 57. Denmark – how a transport ticketing solution became a country-wide experience

Rejsekort A/S – the public transport smartcard ticketing scheme provider for Denmark – is the leading operator of one of the world’s first country-wide transport ticketing solutions based on NXP’s MIFARE technology, covering all train services, metro networks and eventually all bus services across Denmark. This common automatic fare collection solution delivers the next level of customer ticketing experience.

Share this

Interoperable smart ticketing: an idea whose time has come

Martin Howell, worldwide communications director at Cubic Transportation Systems. Rail Technology Magazine, Feb/Mar 2013, page 28-29. Interoperable smart ticketing: an idea whose time has come

February 15 2012 was an important date in the development of interoperable contactless electronic “smart” ticketing, in which a single medium – a smart card or a mobile phone, for example – supports multiple types of tickets issued by different mass transit operators and valid on multiple modes of transport.

Share this

e-Ticketing up close

Horst Stammler, Chairman Kontiki e.V. and managing director of VVS (transport authority of Stuttgart). Eurotransport, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2013, page 18-20. e-Ticketing up close

Given the pervasiveness of wireless networks, the explosion of mobile computing and communications devices of all forms, and the fundamental requirement for mobility, it is no wonder that multi-appJication, interoperability, man-machine-interaction or intermodal public transport is now at the core of so many strategic plans. Just as life without mobility would be unpleasant at best, public transportation companies and networks that are not optimising their customer and communication systems and services will be operating at a distinct disadvantage. Access to information resources on an any time/anywhere basis is today the key to productivity and an advantage no matter what the mission.

Share this

(((eTicket Germany is ready for the future

Sjef Janssen and Daniel Krings, VDV-Kernapplikations GmbH & Co. KG, part of VDV (the Association of German Transport Companies). Eurotransport, Volume 11, Issue 1, 2013, page 18-20. (((eTicket Germany is ready for the future

Public transport e-Ticketing in Germany started in the 1990’s like in so many other nations. In those days, interested German public transport operators and authorities could not fall back on a nationwide standard for Electronic Fare Management (EFM). The result found about 35 different smart card projects dotted all over Germany. Since then, there has been a dramatic change in passengers’ behaviour and requirements. customers want to buy their tickets quickly and simply and do not want to have to work their way through a complicated fare structure before they get the right ticket. So, in 2002, with funding from the German government, the Association of German Transport Companies (Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen (VDV)) started developing a standard for e-Ticketing in public transport.


Share this

The European IFM Project: delivering smartcard ticketing across borders

John Verity, Chief Advisor, ITSO Limited, UK, Co-ordinator, EU-IFM Project, ITSO Limited. The European IFM Project delivering smartcard ticketing across borders.

The EC-funded European Interoperable Fare Management (EU-IFM) Project is designed to make access to public transport networks more user-friendly by facilitating their accessibility through smartcards. By 2015 compatibility in smart ticketing systems will ease access to all the users of public transport. The objective of the IFM Project is to provide travellers with shared types of contact-less media throughout Europe. Whether a smartcard, and NFC-enabled mobile phone, or a USB-dongle, it can be used for multiple transport products (“tickets”) in different geographic areas and for sustainable modal switching, such as the use of “Park and Ride”. Today, most media are restricted for use in specific networks. Payment will no longer be a barrier to travel.

IFM Project – A seamless travel initiative: Preliminary work

This is a very extensive article about the IFM Project by Gilles de Chantérac, Consultant, Member of UITP IT&I Commission: IFM Project – A seamless travel initiative: Preliminary work

For fifteen years now electronic ticketing has been a central theme at seminars, conferences and congresses, including two specialist events held by UITP (first in Bologna, Italy then in Karlsruhe, Germany). Initial discussions focused largely on the technology and on proving that ‘contactless’ could be more robust and more reliable than ‘magnetic’.