INIT was asked to set a new bar to ticketing systems in the Nordics. And we did. A particularly innovative ID-based fare management system went into operation on 1 July 2016. INIT produced an advanced ticketing system in less than two years in order to fulfil the challenging requirements of the City of Turku. The final stage of the project is the full utilization of INIT’s Intermodal Transport Control System (ITCS) to prepare and secure the city of Turku far into the future.
The concept of ID-based (or account-based) ticketing is rather simple. In a traditional e-ticketing system, the account balance or other travel information (e.g. monthly pass validity) is stored on the travel media – in most cases contactless travel cards. The core idea of the ID-based ticketing system is to store and manage all information in real-time in the back-office system.
In just two years, INIT completed a full-scale ID-based ticketing system for the City of Turku, Finland. The project started in spring 2014 with a common and intensive specification period outlined together with the customer. During that period, the complete mindset of their ticketing system was renewed and high ambitions were set.
The new ID-based ticketing system was designed to be flexible, meaning new tariffs were supposed to be set in a much shorter time. Validation of the travel right was to be smooth and efficient. The complete system, including both ticketing and ITCS, would be open, flexible and extensible. Also the Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) system will become centralized, meaning that priority requests are handled between INIT’s ITCS and the traffic light control back-office solution, which takes care of the actual green light and returns the feedback of the request back to the ITCS.
In the old-fashioned e-ticketing system, the creation of a new tariff usually took a few days at minimum, but with the new ID-based ticketing system, it is now accomplished in a few minutes. This is thanks to the real-time system where all data is stored in the back-office system, MOBILEvario. Once the new tariff is available in the back-office, it is available also in the fleet. There is no need to wait several days to get all on-board units to be updated. But flexibility goes even one step further: Due to the easy creation of products, it is also possible to define a different pricing for the various sales channels like the website, points of sale or mobile sales channels.
In the early stage of the project, the combined on-board computer and ticket printer EVENDpc and the passenger terminal PROXmobil were installed into all buses in the Turku region. Currently, traditional cards are read and validated as well as 2D barcode tickets either on paper or on mobile phone by the optical reader of the PROXmobil.
The full integration of the Finnish nationwide ticketing system “WALTTI” has been ordered by the City of Turku. However, “WALTTI” cards can already be used in the system as IDs. Furthermore, the INIT equipment is ready for the future validation and acceptance of contactless EMV cards. INIT has already conducted studies together with the customer and Finnish financial institutions in order to find the best possible way to implement this payment option for the City of Turku.
Open and ideally standardized interfaces are an essential part of the state-of-the-art ticketing and real-time information system. INIT implemented several different interfaces including SIRI interfaces and GTFS (The General Transit Feed Specification by Google) in order to provide precise and excellent real-time passenger information to third parties.
However, the crown jewel of the system is INIT’s sales Application Programming Interface (API) that provides practically unlimited possibilities for third parties to sell tickets. This interface can be utilized to create completely new sales channels as well as sales points. Already by now, two third party applications utilizing this interface have appeared on the market, one of them being the Slush-awarded “Föli” application by IQ Payments Oy. This sales API can also be used by MaaS (Mobility as a Service) operators as soon as first operators appear on the market.
Two of the starting principles of the Turku project were flexibility and extensibility. INIT answered these requirements by delivering a multi-client capable system with full readiness for different tariff zones. There are many operators and stake holders involved in the INIT system in the Turku region. These parties can use and utilize the system without ever disturbing other clients or knowing critical details of other clients.
Still, today public transportation in the Turku region is implemented within one zone but this might change in the future. The INIT system provides all the tools and possibilities to convert easily without any changes from INIT to a zone based system.
The system delivered enables the City of Turku to reach their ambitious goals. Already by now, it is highly flexible, supports various ticketing methods and sales channels, offers open interfaces for the integration of third party solutions and is client-based. Moreover, it is prepared for all future requirements. The fulfillment of all challenging demands along with the successful going live has reinforced the decision of the City of Turku to opt for INIT.