REPORT Understanding the Evolution of Public Transport and Ticket Validator

The transport industry is a complex environment with many stakeholders such as public transport authorities (PTA), ticketing system providers, public transport manufacturers and so on. Understanding the challenges of tomorrow isn’t easy, even for the professionals! To make things a little easier, we have answered some frequently asked questions around ticketing systems. Find them below.

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What’s the current market offering for transport validators?

 

Current transport validators are actually outdated compared to the current technologies available on the market. Most of the existing transport validators are based on proprietary software which has been developed by the manufacturer and puts a spoke in the wheel for new transportation stakeholders who would like to develop new transport applications.

 

In addition, current hardware available on the market doesn’t offer any flexibility and is quite expensive. Devices are not designed to evolve and accept new technology such as NFC, EMV or barcode scanning. Current validators have been developed to process just one way of ticketing, and today these devices are slowly fading away with the arrival of new cutting-edge devices which answer today and tomorrow’s requirements.

 

At Famoco, we have invested more than 2 years time and effort in R&D and, we have worked with strategic partners to offer a new cutting-edge transport validator. The purpose of our validator is to create a modular system that can meet all types of ticketing methods for transport operators. This is the reason we offer a future-friendly product with specific modules such as a barcode imager and an NFC antenna as standard. Our product aims to be scalable and will integrate an EMV module to support Open Payment (coming in 2019). We have focused on delivering the best product at the best price to answer the current and future technology-related demands from transit operators.

 

today's public transport market with single ticketing validator and the evolution to tomorrow's market to a multi-ticketing validator

What are the transportation operators’ needs?

 

Installing a ticket validator in each vehicle of the network usually costs a large amount of money for transport operators. They invest massively to build a well-structured transportation network and are always seeking to reduce operational costs.

 

Their other main objective is to improve their passenger’s journey: public and private transportation companies are looking to change the way passengers pay their fare. Today, there are many ticketing methods such as magnetic swiping cards, printed barcode tickets, in-app QR codes, in-app virtual smart cards using NFC technology, plastic travel cards using NFC antennas, bank cards using EMV technology or even Bluetooth. Too many options become a burden for companies and regional public transport authorities as they have to choose between ticketing methods and find a system that has scalable features to meet future transportation needs.

 

We decided to offer a flexible device with additional modularity to meet market expectations in terms of price and technology including an NFC reader, barcode scan engine and touch panel. Plus, Famoco’s vision was to build an affordable validator for SMEs and international organization in need of a powerful, adaptable and straightforward solution. Today, only a few products can process multi-ticketing methods but they are not designed to be customized in the future to meet tomorrow’s ticketing expectations.

 

Open Payment is coming in 2019

 

Famoco is currently working on integrating an EMV module inside the FX920 to support open payment. Public Transport Authorities won’t have to choose one technology for their transport network as Famoco will deliver a single ticket validator supporting multipayment modalities such as Open Payment, standard travel cards and virtual tickets.

 

magnetic stripe ticket

barcode payments

nfc payment

open payment methods with emv

bluetooth payment

Which operating system do transportation companies use the most?

 

Most of the transportation ticketing systems are either based on proprietary systems, tailor-made by the manufacturer, or on Linux or Windows CE operating systems. These options are usually not easy for transport application development as on one side, proprietary systems are closed environments which makes it hard or even impossible to develop anything else. On the other side, Linux and Windows CE are respectively open and closed-source OSes, but are becoming less attractive to developers to work on, as Android’s market share is growing rapidly and developers tend towards it.

 

Today, only a few ticket validators are based on Android OS, and this operating system has a big advantage as it gives the flexibility to transport operators to have a real B2C approach with interactions and ad-hoc offers. Android OS gives organizations the flexibility to develop applications on a common open-source operating system and makes developing a transport application as simple as developing a mobile app.

 

Famoco’s global vision is to build business-oriented devices based on Android so that organization can deploy their mobile solution in a secure and flexible environment. We offer a robust transport validator with the intelligence of a mobile device based on a custom Android OS. Famoco Android OS is a reconfigured Android OS designed for business which can be remotely managed from a Mobile Device Management platform, so that businesses can work in a secure environment.

 

Mobile OS Market Share in 2017

Data source from statistica

Android market share based on mobile OS

Windows market share based on mobile OS

Linux market share based on mobile OS

How is maintenance managed for ticketing systems?

 

Maintenance is a pain point for transit operators as it means an additional cost and it is time-consuming. Currently, a technician has to physically go to each validator to carry out routine maintenance and system upgrades. New systems are emerging such as Mobile Device Management platforms where fleets of validators are directly connected to one portal to manage them remotely.

 

Indeed, this is the case for all Famoco products, each ticketing validator is pre-installed with a Mobile Device Management (MDM) agent, protecting the device and connecting it to a portal where the admin remotely manage devices. Thus, maintenance time is reduced as the admin of the MDM can push app or upgrades directly from the cloud and avoid any physical interaction that is time-consuming. Plus, the FX920 is built in two parts, the mechanical part which is fixed on a pole or a wall, and the electronic part which is removable and easily replaceable in case of hardware maintenance.

 

ticket validator connected to a mobile device management to reduce maintenance

 

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What can I do with a barcode imager inside a ticketing validator?

 

Today, most ticketing validators don’t embed a camera or a barcode imager as the validation passes through a physical ticket validation. Tomorrow, validators won’t need to have a mechanical part for physical ticket validation as cameras and barcode imagers will be standard in transport validators. A mobile device camera can perform some QR barcode reading but it does not perform as well as a barcode imager module, dedicated to read all types of barcodes quickly (Aztec, QR, Datamatrix, PDF417). For example, the public transport authorities of Oslo called Ruter have a mobile app where the traveler buys a journey ticket, and the proof of payment is a QR code that the traveler displays on their smartphone for inspections.

 

We provide an Android ticketing device that integrates an optical barcode imager to easily read all types of barcodes. Public transportation companies can provide paper barcode tickets or a mobile app that displays the barcode ticket scanned by the validator. The flexibility of being Android-based gives developers the power to improve the readability of in-app barcodes with the barcode imager.

 

1D types of barcodes

optical barcode imager made to scan all types of 1D and 2D barcodes

2D types of barcodes

Why the NFC antenna makes a difference to ticketing validators?

 

NFC technology allows a device to read contactless smart cards and NFC-enabled smartphone travel cards. Today, some public transport companies sell paper tickets and plastic transportation cards (embedded with NFC technology) such as transport passes. Most ticket validator manufacturers have developed products that answer one need forgetting about the potential evolution of technology and shift in market expectations as is the case with NFC nowadays. Plus, the NFC antenna has to answer growing requirements from the transport operators who want transactions to be done on NFC A/B or NFC B prime.

 

The FX920 integrates NFC technology with an NFC ISO 14443 A/B and B prime antenna manufactured by Paragon ID (formerly ASK) to enable seamless transactions and ticket validation. Famoco’s validators accept either physical travel cards that embed NFC technology or mobile app NFC passes that emulate a travel card through smartphone NFC technology.

 

NFC technology usage for public transport fare payment

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