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The connected journey

No one likes to queue to get on the bus. Fare collection specialist Vix Technology explains how, nowadays, you don’t have to

05 September 2013
A standard validator
A standard validator
eO account-based system in parallel with ITSO system
eO account-based system in parallel with ITSO system
A ruggedised validator
A ruggedised validator
Validator high level software architecture
Validator high level software architecture


BRT systems are intended to move large numbers of commuters rapidly through the urban environment. To facilitate this, the ingress and egress of passengers to and from the vehicle must be as fast as possible. To reduce boarding times fare validators should be placed at stops, either gated or un-gated, such that passenger flows onto vehicles are not slowed by validation. As much as possible the BRT ticketing system should be integrated with that of other forms of public transport to enable seamless interchange.

Operators of BRT systems wish to reduce the TCO (total cost of ownership) of their fare collection system while maintaining an efficient and effective system. Passengers want a fare collection system that is convenient and easy to use. When a BRT system is being deployed in an environment with an existing fare collection system then integration with this system is a desirable goal.

The cost of the deployment and operation of an AFC (automated fare collection) system can be reduced and customer convenience increased when account-based open payment systems are deployed. Account-based systems remove the need for ticket data to be written to and read from the ticket media. The systems maintain user accounts in a CRM (customer relationship management) system and manage fares and ticket products within the CRM. This enables customers to register and use their existing mobile devices or smartcards as fare media in the AFC system.

Account-based systems offer the following advantages to operators:

1.         Reduce cost of deployment and operation

            • Fare collection

            • Card management and issuance

            • Customer service including ticket kiosk

2.         Open additional revenue opportunities

            • Advertising

            • Potential to increase ridership

3.         Use existing security standards

4.         Reduce fraud

5.         Allow for partnering opportunities

            • City-wide initiatives

            • Existing issuers of access media

6.         Improve the passenger experience

7.         Reduce complexity of device configuration management as no fare product business rules are used on the devices

8.         Enable sophisticated customer engagement as passengers no longer anonymous

9.         Improve reporting and analytics from the system.


Account-based systems offer the following advantages to operators:

1.         Increased convenience as no special transit card is required

2.         No need to queue at ticket vending machines or kiosks to purchase tickets

3.         Instant ‘loading’ of purchased tickets – no need to wait for purchase to propagate to front end devices for loading onto card

4.         Additional information on usage and cost available to enable management of travel usage and spend.


The ideal AFC system for new BRT systems in the UK would integrate the existing ITSO smart ticketing scheme in a city with an account-based open payment AFC scheme that gives passengers choice as to the means they pay for their travel.

The single validation device can support many ways to pay. The validator is EMV L1 and L2 certified and is able to perform validation functions on the ISO14443 and ISO15693 ranges of cards. As a result the device is able to validate the MiFare family of cards commonly used for ITSO cards, perform fare payment validation on contactless EMV cards such as Visa Paypass and Mastercard Paywave cards, and support validation using standard access control proximity cards commonly issued by universities and other institutions. This gives the passengers flexibility, choice and convenience. With the inclusion of an optional integrated 2D barcode scanner the device is also able to validate QR/Aztec-encoded tickets generated by mobile ticketing applications.

The validator shown below on the right is a ruggedised validator intended for outdoor and unattended usage. This makes it suitable for use at BRT stops where the preference is to have the validator at the stop rather than on the bus. There is a companion device that can also support the full range of payment options with an optional integrated 2D barcode scanner intended for indoor attended usage. For gated BRT stations the access control gate can also be fitted with a multi-protocol card validator and 2D barcode scanner to ensure that, regardless of the validator configuration selected, the passenger always has the widest possible payment options available to him.

The software on the validator is modular to enable each validation mechanism to be included or excluded from the system with minimal impact on the overall system.

The Vix eO system is an account-based open payments back office system that is able to process payments from payment sources and integrate with existing closed loop payment schemes such as ITSO.

The eO account-based open payment system enables more ways to pay at the validator without storing any transit specific data on the ticketing media and offloads much of the processing traditionally conducted on the validator to the back office. This includes:

  • Tap processing, which groups validator taps into trips and journeys
  • Fare calculation for trips and journeys including transfers
  • Processing and management of period passes and carnet tickets
  • Processing of concessions
  • Processing of fare capping and other loyalty reward mechanisms.

This greatly simplifies the validation device software as most of the business logic is moved to the back office and also enables sophisticated fare calculations that would not be possible on a device. It also simplifies the on-going configuration management of the devices as there is no requirement to keep the business rules on the devices synchronised and up to date. 

Customer engagement

In a traditional AFC system based on magnetic tickets or smartcards most passengers are anonymous in the system. The operator knows a ticket has been sold and used but usually knows nothing about the person buying and using the tickets. Account-based systems that have more detailed information about the passengers enable entirely new ways for transit operators to engage with their customers to improve the passenger experience, and increase ridership and revenue.

Within an account-based system passengers can still chose to remain largely anonymous to the transit operator. This can be achieved by using a bank issued payment card for fare payment. The operator knows the card has been used and that it is valid but has no other demographic or personally identifying information about the user unless they choose to register in the system. In order to encourage more users to register in the system the operator must provide incentives.

A question of loyalty

Traditional AFC systems have offered immediate anonymous loyalty discounts based on upfront purchase of multiple journeys. Period passes and carnet tickets offer discounts that usually increase with the length of period or number of trips purchased. This encourages users to buy the longest pass that makes sense for their travel pattern and cash flow. More recently some AFC systems have introduced fare capping that caps the daily/weekly/monthly spend. This is a form of immediate fare-based loyalty discount that does not require an upfront purchase.

Account-based AFC systems can provide the immediate fare based loyalty discounts of traditional systems but the additional data in a user’s account enables more sophisticated loyalty schemes to be operated. This could include a system of internal points-based loyalty schemes where the travellers accumulate rewards points in the system through usage; the points can then be redeemed for discounts on future tickets. Alternatively the AFC system could be integrated with an external loyalty programme such as the Nectar card system in the UK. Loyalty points are ‘purchased’ in the loyalty scheme by the operator and can be redeemed by the customer for rewards. The rewards can include discounts on ticket products from the operator.

Other forms of incentive can be provided to customers based on their travel patterns. This can include location based vouchers/discounts at partner retailers such as discount coffee at a frequently visited station.

Loyalty and incentive schemes are a mechanism to encourage passengers to become account holders in the system. With an active account operators are able to target marketing material to the customers based on their demographic and travel profile. This could be upsell and special offers from the operator or offers from partner organisations. The key is that done well the targeted marketing can increase customer satisfaction while simultaneously increasing the revenue of the operator.

Our vision of travel is a world where a commuter has all the information and tools at their fingertips to make educated travel decisions. The whole journey must be treated as a single seamless experience. We allow commuters to select the best transport mode at any point – based on schedule, duration or cost; book segments of their trip as they want; and pay for them easily.

Once the trip is started, we provide solutions that track their journey, informing them when things change – as they often do.

The goal is to demystify the travel experience and help people to use more sustainable transportation.

Vix provides the services to allow passengers to:

  • Plan their journeys, making the best choices available to them
  • Pay for their journeys, giving people access to more options to pay for their journeys
  • Navigate through their journey in real time.

We also provide solutions and services to operators to allow them to better manage their public transport systems, and make their operations more efficient.

The eO account based open payment AFC system is the first step towards the connected journey for BRT operators and passengers. 


LTT, jointly with BRTuk presents:

BRT - Catalyst for Urban Economic Stimulation

Leveraging the Impact of Public Transport Infrastructure Investment

23 Sep 2013 to 24 Sep 2013

  • 2 Day Event

  • Launch and Study Tour: Luton Dunstable Busway

  • National and International Experience

  • Privileged updates on UK schemes

  • Exceptional Networking

Find out more 


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