Moving to open standards for future-proof automated fare collection systems

17 February 2012  •  Author(s): Laurent Cremer, Executive Director, OSPT Alliance

Mass transit system operators are witnessing a paradigm shift in automated fare collection (AFC) technology. These changes include outsourcing of AFC programme operations and real-time acceptance of third party-issued cards – changes that are likely to reshape the way that AFC is viewed by the industry for decades. As a result, transit agencies are facing new challenges and opportunities as they define the next generation of AFC systems. To ease this transition and to promote higher data security without the need for proprietary solutions, the OSPT Alliance, a vendor-neutral industry association, has introduced CIPURSE™, a new standard designed specifically for the next generation of fare collection technologies.

Fare collection systems hit the wall

For the past two decades, the default solution for AFC systems has been a contactless smartcard-based programme. Such systems have been based on proprietary technologies and customised to the unique needs and fare policies of each agency. Over time, systems built on proprietary solutions have proven to lack flexibility for adapting to changes in fare policy, smartcard features, or the addition of new system components. In addition to requiring specialised expertise, updating proprietary fare collection systems usually incurs substantial expense. However, until recently, the lack of comprehensive standards for card data structures and security has inhibited opportunities for alternatives to evolve.

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