Very early into project definition phase, and this without unvealing any secret, it was clear that chosing a new system based on contactless smart card only was extremely tempting and popular. Messages sent out by fare collection microcosm that magnetic technology was outdated were not contributing to a serene analysis of operation needs.
We stepped back to basics and finally made sure that the need to keep full multi modality for casual users was a must have. This being established, the casual user ticket had to be electronic to allow automatic transfers or multiple uses. The very first finding was that technologies based on paper tickets or light card board tickets could not fulfill the requirements of on board automatic control even if they were fitted with some sort of bar code.
The choice was magnetic tickets or disposable contact less smart cards. At time I am writting these lines disposable contact less smart card is still about 20 times more expensive than magnetic ticket (Parisian size) and there is no hope that this trend will change in near future. Just to make things a little bit more crisp, within the frame of Adelaide public transport services, additional operational cost linked to the use of disposable smart card is 2 million dollars per annum….The analysis takes into account difference of investment, maintenance costs, ticket/card costs, price evolution of components over 12 years and assumes that a disposal card will be used 5 times. The decision was made easy to make: the future system would use a combination of magnetic tickets and contact less cards.
The system is currently being installed and combines magnetics low coercitivity/low density, magnetics high coercitivity/high density and contact less smart cards (latest DESFIRE generation). This arrangement makes it possible to proceed with a very easy installation where new equipment replaces old equipment and goes back on line. Passengers continue to use current magnetic tickets that they validate indifferently on either type of equipment. Once new system is fully installed, new magnetics will replace old magnetics and contact less smart cards will be introduced to replace Multitrip tickets. Passengers still holding Multitrips will be able to use them long after the introduction of contact less smart cards.
On board sales were also a key factor which has led keeping magnetics. ADELAIDE is a wide spread city featuring a low density population. Numerous public transport network stops are quite far from any point of sale, consequently on board sales is a must to service quality. Magnetic tickets are sold on board by bus Drivers using on board control equipment thanks to a function invented 25 years ago which does not generate any additional investment cost.
Compatibility and easiness of implementation also applies to back office. Data collected by the new system feeds two data bases: the new Oracle data base and the existing data base by creating files in the same format as current memory cassettes. The result is that outputs from both system can be compared avoiding potential polemics linked to interpretation of results.