A system of software and hardware solutions based on electronic contactless chip card (smart card), which is issued only once and can be charged repeatedly, intended for registering and payment of a trip in urban and suburban public transport, including underground and intercity transportation. The system is focused both on individual transport operators and on organization of revenue collection and/or accounting of public transport at municipal, regional or national level.
In terms of information, CONVENIENT ROUTE has a two-level architecture.
The first level is terminal. This is where primary information on realized trips and paid tickets is collected (in cash or with a transport card). For this purpose, special electronic devices – terminals – are used. Primary information is collected and stored in the memory of the terminal in the form of an electronic control tape – a special type of file that records all operations conducted at the terminal for one work shift.
Although the main purpose of the terminals is the provision of interaction with passengers and collection of primary data for processing in the central server of CONVENIENT ROUTE, each terminal has the capability to print a summary report of the work shift. This means that CONVENIENT ROUTE can be used by relatively small carriers that are not able to have their own data processing center, which is the second level of the architecture of CONVENIENT ROUTE.
The second level is informational and it guarantees the operation of CONVENIENT ROUTE as a single distribution system. It includes a Transport Transaction Processing Center and a Terminal Management System (XTMS). To work with these components, a central server of CONVENIENT ROUTE and a database running on ORACLE are required.
Tasks of the Transport Transaction Processing Center
- Obtaining, analyzing and uploading into the database of the electronic control tapes to create a database of transactions.
- Database maintenance – not only the database of transactions, but also different tables (for transport companies, commercial agents, card extension or filling, for transport and social cards, terminals, etc.).
- Interaction with other information systems, such as the social card register or accounting systems of large carriers, as well vehicle tracking and positioning systems
- Security by blocking and unblocking the reference lists of social and transport card, a list of used terminals, etc.
- Creation of different reports to stakeholders on a regular basis or upon request. These persons are usually carriers using terminals, municipal or regional structures, which are in one way or another involved in the implementation of different discounts, banks if they apply a credit form of a ticket.
Main tasks of the XTMS module
- Maintaining a database of configuration parameters of terminals (individual terminals or groups of terminals can have a different configuration, for example a project can be both with Ethernet terminals and GPRS-terminals).
- Maintaining a database of prices uploaded in the terminals (this is particularly important in case of a zonal fare when some routes may have totally different fares in different areas, and the amount of information that can be uploaded into the terminal can be significant).
- Taking into account the specific characteristics of CONVENIENT ROUTE, such as the form of tickets (one terminal can be used in a trolley bus and another one in a bus, the form and details of tickets respectively may vary).
- Management of the terminal network as a whole (terminals can be decommissioned, new terminals can be commissioned, etc.)
Trip payment forms
- An advance payment form with contactless card where different types of travel documents are electronically recorded
A passenger’s card is read by a validator. If the trip, according to the travel document recorded therein, is possible, the validator registers the travel. Otherwise, the terminal does not do a registration and the passenger must buy a ticket from a vending machine in cash (see below).
This payment form can be regarded as a prepayment of the trip as it is done in advance at the vending machines. They are normally located outside of vehicles in kiosks, shops, post offices, etc. It is also possible to purchase a card with a particular nominal value containing a ready-to-use travel document (e.g. for 10 trips or 30 days). These transport cards are usually made in the form of paper contactless cards and are discarded after use.
- Cash payment received from a vending machine
The passenger buys a single-use paper ticket sold directly in the vehicle. A single-use ticket is printed and taken by the passenger.
The e-ticket system allows for direct use of credit or debit bank cards for the needs of transport cards after the addition of special information in the card and additional software in ATMs.
Single-use paper ticket
In the laws of many countries, there is a situation where the fact of the contract between a carrier and a passenger must be confirmed by a ticket. A ticket can be used as a document confirming the trip, in case of an insured event, for reporting in case of business trips and for other purposes requiring documented confirmation of a trip.
CONVENIENT ROUTE works with a single-use paper ticket as well.
If necessary, the composition of requisites of a single-use ticket can be extended. A ticket, as well as its form, are set by means of configuring a particular vending machine. Therefore CONVENIENT ROUTE has a special language for “settings” of various types of tickets and the relevant file is sent to the particular TVM devices or their group by XTMS.
Since a single-use paper ticket in CONVENIENT ROUTE contains all the requisites necessary for a verification by a controller (such as date, time, route number and vehicle, etc.), it is extremely convenient for verification. A controller does not need any technical means when verifying a ticket, which generally lowers project costs.
Travel documents which are not a single-trip ticket and are stored in the memory of the smart card, appear to be effective means to increase revenues. Different types of travel documents are defined in CONVENIENT ROUTE. They may differ in several parameters (e.g., one “season” document may be for a calendar month, and another – for ten days), and actually the variety of trips is significantly greater.
For the realization of this diversity, a series of travel documents is introduced in CONVENIENT ROUTE. Thus, a season document for a calendar month may be series 11 and a season ticket for ten days – series 12. It could be said that the ticket type determines the algorithm of its processing at the validator and the series determines the quantitative parameters in the use of a card.
A card is a major carrier of information and ensures the safety of the trip payment system. In CONVENIENT ROUTE, very rare capability for such systems is introduced, allowing to change the type and series of a ticket on the same card. A passenger can change these parameters, if another fare plan is more favourable for them. For example, if this month an “electronic purse” is inconvenient for them and what is more convenient is a season ticket for a calendar month, they may switch from an electronic purse to a season ticket without buying a new card.
This capability is particularly interesting in respect of personal cards (social, student cards or cards with personal data and a photograph places on the them), as re-issuance of personalized cards is accompanied by additional costs and time over which a passenger has no ticket.
All travel documents in CONVENIENT ROUTE have two basic control parameters – duration and resource for trips (balance of the trip), expressed either in cash or in trips. In particular, the resource can be unlimited, i.e. such documents are only limited in duration. Upon increase of the resource for trips at a vending machine, the document is simultaneously extended for a period determined by the fare plan for this documents series.
- EP – ELECTRONIC PURSE
A passenger should confirm their right to a trip only in the event that in the card memory, the balance of the electronic purse is not less than the trip fare established for this route for this document type and series. The balance is nominated in monetary units, but in reality, there is no money “in the card” – they have been given by the passenger upon filling the electronic purse (card) at the vending machine. The balance is the only limitation of a trip and if it is depleted, the validator would not perform a transaction.
When working under the electronic purse scheme, it is possible to return the advance upon registering this operation at a TVM.
CONVENIENT ROUTE provides such possibilities in electronic purses, but they are regulated by the rules of the particular trip payment system.
A discount when using electronic purse can be determined in CONVENIENT ROUTE. For example, at the fare of 1 BGN per trip (series 10), a university-student ticket (series 11) may have a discount of 50% and a school-student one (series 12) – 70%.
The level of discount is fixed directly in the card. When traveling, 1 BGN is taken from the balance of the electronic purse for a regular ticket, 50 stotinki for a university-student ticket and 30 stotinki from the balance of a school-student ticket. If the initial balance of everyone is 10 BGN, a passenger with a regular ticket can make 10 trips, a university student – twice as many, and a school student can travel without charging their card 33 times. Preferential traveling upon use of a ticket of the EP type can be set in CONVENIENT ROUTE.
- ET – ELECTRONIC TRIPS
A ticket of the ET type is an electronic purse, the balance of which is defined in trips. This is the electronic version of one-trip paper coupons used to pay for trips. When loading the balance of ET on a TVM, the remainder of trips from the previous period is transferred to the new one. When making a trip, deduction is done in accordance with the following rule: for an urban route, the ET balance is reduced by one trip, for a suburban route – in accordance with the amount of zones in which the passenger is expected to travel (for example, when traveling from Zone 3 to Zone 5 – three trips).
- SU – SEASON UNLIMITED
A card of the SU type for a fixed period, without limitation of the number of trips therewith. The duration of action in accordance with the fare set for this series is extended at a TVM. The duration of the card is determined by the fare plan.
The discount for a SU card (for different series) is also provided at a TVM and is expressed in a different value of the card with the same periods of action.
- SU – SEASON LIMITED
A card of the SL type is a season card for which the number of possible trips is limited according to the fare plan. In the case of ET, the number of trips deducted from the balance of the SL ticket corresponds to the number of zones the passenger is expected to travel through.
- SC – SEASON CARD WITH LIMITATION OF TRIPS ON CREDIT (Season Credit)
- CT – CREDIT CARD (Credit Trips)
This card type requires integration with a bank card and the ATM system of a bank.
Contactless smart cards are used as transport document medium: plastic cards MIFARE® Classic (MIFARE® Standard 1K, 4K and 8K), dual smart cards NXP SmartMX (MIFARE Classic area), paper cards MIFARE® Ultralight and compatible therewith (MIFARE® Ultralight C and my-d™ move). The logical structure of card memory (bitmapping) includes a unique identifier of the chip (UID), the change of which on the card is impossible, and it is designed in such a way that it allows to realize all the above ticket types on each of these cards. Smart cards conform to the standard ISO/IES 14443.
CONVENIENT ROUTE provides a wide choice of cards with parameterization of specific series by fare plans and fare tables (i.e. without additional programming).
Suburban routes are usually broken down into zones in which (generally) different rates operate.
Zonal travel fares are formed in tables for each controlled route, also a card series for it, as well as for cash payment, there is a corresponding fare for each zone. Fares are nominated in cash or trips depending on ticket type. Urban routes are also included in this table, since in the concept of CONVENIENT ROUTE, the city is considered to be a zero zone and setting fares is carried out by a single scheme regardless of the number of zones in a route. Uploading fare tables in a validator is done by XTMS (via a GPRS modem or other communication means).
Fare plans and fares
Fare plans of a TVM are formed in XTMS and can contain up to 90 configurable data elements on the card series. A different fare plan is related to each series.
General parameters of the fare plan
- The card is activated until ...
- Validity period of the ticket
- Electronic purse (EP)
- Maximum purse balance
- Discount in deduction of funds during the trip or an algorithm for its assignment upon charging the electronic purse
- Season tickets with and without limitation in the number of trips (SL and SU), e-tickets (ET)
- For SL and SU zones from ... to ... (00 – city, 01 to 99 – suburbs)
- Value of a ticket for SL and SU, value of a trip for ET
- For SL and ET, maximum balance of a trip