Tag Archive for smart ticketing

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

john.verity@itso.org.uk – www.itso.org.uk – +44 1908 255 455 – www.smart-ticketing.org

Guidelines for ITS deployment in urban areas – Smart Ticketing

From the Urban ITS Expert Group: Smart Ticketing Guidelines for ITS deployment in urban areas (January 2013). Please find a copy of the summary:


Smart Ticketing has been a topic for over a decade now, but what does the term “smart” mean in this context? When using this term, we’re generally talking about new technologies and integration of services not directly linked to the basic functions of tickets. The main issues of Smart Ticketing are:

  • Propose complementary services to users in relation with their mobility
  • Modify relationship between Public Transport user and his/her ticket as also between Public Transport operator and its tickets
  • Improve overall efficiency and image of Public Transport network as also the depth of data created through usage

Smart Ticketing could permit to contribute to the overall improvement of the public transport network level of services, image, accessibility, with the main aim to facilitate and/or increase the use of public transport and so contribute to the overall political goal of developing a sustainable transport policy. Smart Ticketing though is NOT necessarily about having ONE ticket for your journey but having ONE wallet for SEVERAL tickets.

There are a number of potential implementation choices within the guidelines for Smart Ticketing:

  • Smart Ticketing using a dedicated application
  • Smart Ticketing based on the virtualisation of tickets
  • Smart Ticketing based on secure identity and back-office processing

One of the main trends that could be extracted with the development of Smart Ticketing is that we are more and more personalising the “ticket”, the contract used by the final user. The differing needs (and ‘ways of consuming’ i.e. PT services shall be seen as a consumer good and sold/marketed as such) of groups or communities of people are becoming a challenge for the implementation of the Transport and the Fare Policies.

Implementing Smart Ticketing also means thinking of the stakeholders and their needs, therefore how to respond to these needs and elaborate marketing accordingly. To date, the main stakeholders are clients, politicians and authorities, public transport operators, scheme providers, suppliers, payment industry, media and lobbies. Specific focus should be paid to the final user’s needs (easiness, simplicity and fairness), public policy needs (shift in modal split reducing car travel, reduction of pollution, optimisation of operational efficiency, reduction of public expenses) and the transport operator’s needs (reduce operational costs of ticketing, improve fare collection efficiency, improve knowledge of customer’s behaviour/choices/preferences).

It is also important to recognise the trends and act appropriately. The trends in ticketing can be specified as ‘from magnetic to contactless’, ‘from cash to smart payment’, ‘from in-house/on the field sales channels to externalised/remote ones’, ‘from mono-application to multi-application devices’, the ‘impact on infrastructure itself’ and the ‘impact on fare evasion’.

Smart Ticketing should have an impact on the way Public Transport is used. Using a ticket, or wallet, not only for transportation but for mobility services in general could improve the image of Public Transport. Access to fare information and easier remote sales will also help the cause, whereas privacy concerns must be addressed in a code of conduct to be able to develop a trust relationship with customers.

The development of Smart Ticketing in a global urban ITS perspective has to be built in respect to local organisations and to the decentralised nature inherent to public transport and to the importance of its public funding.

The recommendations to deploy Smart Ticketing are therefore:

  • General: Smart Ticketing should not be seen as a simple replacement for traditional paper or magnetic ticketing. An important step is identifying which features and functionalities of Smart Ticketing can be adopted and how they will integrate with the customers’ wider mobility requirements. The introduction of Smart Ticketing is also an opportunity to rethink the current fare policy and to offer additional/alternative fare possibilities to customers.
  • Business models: Smart Ticketing is a global business and is, for the first time, being driven by standards. This allows off-the-shelf technology to be adopted with only limited local tailoring to reflect specific tariff structures and cross-modal opportunities. By using open International Standards for Smart Ticketing, Public Transport Operators can access supply chains that are responsive, cheaper and address industry best practice.
  • >Distribution channels: Smart Ticketing must allow passengers to plan and book their travel through their choice of distribution and retail channels. This goal required a new system that can accommodate the speed, power and flexibility necessary to handle multiple distribution channels for ticket sales, including contactless payment and pre-loaded value.
  • Smart wallets: Smart Ticketing covers not just pre-payment and the loading of a ticket onto the smartcard or phone, but can also include post-payment where the customer is identified on entering / leaving a closed system and verified that they are authorised to travel or have suitable payment mechanism available (whether that is a contactless bankcard or pre-arranged credit). A smart wallet also gives the opportunity to integrate other services whether transport related (e.g. bike or car sharing, parking), associated (e.g. tourism information) or non-transport related (e.g. shopping, use fees).
  • Marketing issues / public support: Urban ITS decision makers should now systematically look for integration in such wider organisations to take benefit from the mutualisation of standard technical tool boxes as well as to insert their customer offer in a wider market.
  • Organisational and legal issues: Urban and national transport decision makers must actively support the development and implementation of European and international Specifications for Smart Ticketing to ensure mutual compatibility between all schemes.
  • Integration with travel information and traffic management: By creating a linkage between Travel Information, Journey Planning, Payment and Smart Ticketing, including a liaison with compatible mobile phone and contactless bankcard schemes in Europe, Smart Ticketing can ensure the customer experience consistently meets their highest expectation. As a result this can foster co-modality/intermodality. Interoperability in transport Smart Ticketing implies removing the obstacles for the customer to switching transport modes. All ticketing needs for through journeys should be in one place and on their local transport Smart Ticketing media, even outside their home network. There should be simple registration processes in place so that the customer has a standardised machine interface and easy access in his/her own language.
  • Development of Smart Ticketing standards: The use of international and open standards can facilitate interoperability, the opening of global markets and compatibility between devices produced by different suppliers.
  • Data privacy: Protection of the customer’s privacy is an ethical requirement of confidentiality, un-linkability, un-observability and anonymity. A low level of protection not only could be punished as a violation of the law but would damage customer acceptance.