Contactless cards, such as Navigo in Paris and the Ile de France Region, were a major factor for optimizing access to public transport in cities throughout the world, within the last ten years. They are practical and very popular with passengers. Over 4.5 million Navigo cards are in use in 2010.
In Tokyo (Japan), 20 million Suica cards, introduced in 2001, are currently being used. It has become a tool in numerous peoples’ daily lives and enabled transport operators and authorities to consider computer ticketing in a different way. Today, new technologies and applications allow contactless cards and even mobile telephones to become multimodal access tools.
Benefits of contactless cards in the transport sector
Contactless cards, whose technology is based on radio frequencies, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), which allow them to automatically identify objects, have had a significant impact on public transport systems. The benefits for transport operators are as follows:
- increased traffic via a fluid access to means of transport;
- limited costs thanks to less maintenance requirements (for sometimes huge volumes – there are nearly 35 million daily trips in Tokyo) and less fraud;
- interoperability between various transport system networks and thus different tariff systems (especially for the Navigo card that can be used on both the RATP and SNCF urban rail networks, as well as the bus lines of various regional Ile de France operators).
The contactless card is a major element in modernizing and optimizing urban public transport systems. Technology development and enhanced security enable the transport card to become the medium of numerous applications, such as virtual purses, credit cards and loyalty cards.
From card to telephone
Technological innovation allows for greater passenger interactivity and future new transport applications. The emergence, even boom of technologies, such as NFC (Near Field Communication) or mobile Internet, means that the telephone now seems to be the ideal long-term solution for meeting transport flexibility, interoperability, variable application and user-friendly requirements.
Telephones are already used in Japan, as over one million people pay for public transport in Tokyo via the contactless Suica Mobile application.
The arrival of contactless bank cards
A contactless bank card-based computer ticketing system is currently being tested by three New York transport authorities / operators. The contactless bank card enables passengers to directly debit the price of a ticket while passing through validators. Payment is thus fully outsourced to financial players, from issuing mediums to managing transactions. The interoperability of computer ticketing systems is performed by adapting validators that become payment terminals. It is easy to imagine that the same medium could one day be used to access and pay for other means of transport, such as Autolib for example. This type of initiative is also being tested via Barclaycard and Oyster in London or Mastercard and Visa in Paris (RATP).
Access to various types of public or mass transportation modes
Today, gaining access to various types of public or mass transportation modes, according to various travel needs and available offers, is a major local stake. There can only be an increase of alternative and practical solutions to private motor-cars, such as public transport, but also demand responsive transport, carpooling or public bicycles if a sufficiently high level of service is offered to passengers, thus as good as using motor cars. The use of a tool, such as the telephone or multimodal card can be an asset for accepting and organizing local transport within this context.
La Rochelle is a city that is famous for implementing advanced and innovatory modes of transport. It recently set up a multimodal card in co-operation with its suburban councils and transport operators (RTCR, Veolia Transport, Proxiway): the Yélo card. This single card enables users to access all the local means of transport and hosts season ticket subscriptions to buses, public bicycles, carpools of electric vehicles, etc.
Nice is a city with a large-scale commercial test area for contactless mobile services used for payment, customer loyalty, information, etc. Véolia Transport is currently testing the use of the NFC telephone and PayByPhone solution, called BPass to pay for tickets. Users can perform remote purchasing of tickets and are invoiced directly from their mobile phones for amounts not exceeding ten euros or via their bank cards. They can charge credits onto their telephones and perform ticket validation by passing their phones in front of the bus or tram validator. This solution is also used in Nice to access public bicycles or perform remote car parking payment.
The telephone seems to be the ideal tool for purchasing and managing individual or season tickets, gaining flexible access to modes of transport, but also quickly obtaining relevant passenger information (routes, maps, traffic, etc.). However, it requires the setting up of ecosystems that gather together players from various sectors (transport/mobile telephony operators, banks, etc.) who still find it difficult to find an economic model that is beneficial to all.
4icom took part in several surveys on computer ticketing and new digital mediums serving mobility, conducted by "CDC Numérique". You can consult these at the following address: http://www.valoffre.caissedesdepots.fr/spip.php?rubrique316&prev=95
Read also in this section:
- A new Award for “European Green Capitals”
- CarSharing, the car becomes a service
- Stockholm, a green city
- Singapore’s congestion pricing system
- The contribution of technology to limit traffic jams
- IBM enabling smart transportation systems
- “Organizational” solutions against traffic jams and gridlock