Winning back passengers: INIT customers opt for cashless ticketing solutions

Contactless payments on the rise – with solutions by INIT

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of cashless payments was steadily increasing worldwide, but not necessarily in public transport. Yet in an era shaped by coronavirus, physical distancing has become the new norm and more passengers expect the option to pay cashless. Public transport operators are willing to respond and get an additional advantage: Cashless payments of any kind also speed up boarding processes.

INIT solutions support the full range of cashless payments: whether a debit or credit card, a company smartcard, or wallets like Apple Pay®, Google Pay™ or Samsung Pay®. With INIT solutions, public transport companies can offer contactless payments for printed tickets and also completely paper-free ticketing.

Account-based ticketing

Account-based ticketing (ABT) enables you to accomplish all forms of payments. ABT means that all data, e.g. customer data, tariffs and transactions, is stored in the back-end system. The customer’s ticket medium only stores a unique ID, which is linked to the customer’s account in the back-office system. To buy a ticket or add credit to the account, the field device (for example, the PROXmobil passenger terminal) sends a query to the central back-office system. This performs a check of the query in real time, completes the necessary transaction, and sends a response back to the field device. Public transport companies can offer both closed-loop and open-loop payment systems.

Closed-loop means that the transport operator issues a physical smartcard or a virtual smartcard to be downloaded on a smartphone. This allows for easy handling and payments for passengers, but the card is obviously only valid in the issuing company’s public transport system. The operator can also add special tariffs or best price options, e.g. monthly fare capping. Some examples of INIT projects where best price calculations are used include the US systems in Portland, Honolulu and Tampa.

On the other hand, there are open-loop systems. Here, physical or virtual contactless bank cards (in a mobile wallet) are used as ticketing media. As a consequence, tapping a card or phone will result in charging the passenger’s bank account. This kind of ID/account-based ticketing (ABT) allows passengers to use a means of payment they already have and are accustomed to using. Open-loop ticketing is based on the EMV standard of the credit card industry. It follows the Mass Transit Transaction (MTT) model. For use at some companies (among them TriMet of Portland, USA, and National Express West Midlands, UK) INIT’s contactless system has already been awarded the MTT accreditation.

Both open-loop and closed-loop systems have two things in common and in their favour: No paper tickets or cash payments have to be exchanged thereby guaranteeing passengers and drivers are able to distance. It is possible to combine both in one system as done by TriMet and, most recently, in Nottingham (UK). There, a multi-operator system has been implemented to be used by the local bus (NCT, CT4N) and tram (NET) operators.

Besides ABT, INIT ticketing solutions also support e-ticketing standards like VDV-KA (Germany), ITSO (UK) and Calypso (many countries).

Card readers in the vehicles

INIT offers different possibilities to introduce ABT, e-ticketing or pure cashless payments for printed tickets in your buses and trains. For driver sales, you can rely on the hybrid card reader built into the EVENDpc3, INIT’s PC-based ticket printer and on-board computer. Many models of the EVENDpc2 are already prepared for contactless forms of payment as well. To use them, public transport companies simply need to exchange the reader.

Another option is the implementation of an external card reader. The newly-developed compact PROXusb can be installed near the driver’s cabin using a USB cable, thereby supporting a safe distance between driver and paying passenger. Public transport companies can also install INIT’s passenger terminal PROXmobile3 on a handrail near the vehicle’s entrance door. This terminal contains exactly the same high-performance hybrid card reader as the EVENDpc3. That way, all the necessary hygiene measures are adhered to as the passenger and driver do not need to come into close contact during the payment process. In addition, further e-ticketing extensions can be supported, which do not require any intervention by the driver.

If the transport company wants to provide a contactless payment option for more expensive tickets in the vehicles, they can introduce an external Point of Sale (POS) terminal. It will allow for the insertion of a PIN and ensure that public transport companies can receive larger payments (over € 50 in Germany, £ 45 in the UK, …) which the payment service provider is generally not liable for. This third-party product has to be provided by the public transport company and can be connected with the EVENDpc. However, contracts can be made with payment providers that offer similar reliability for the use of a device that is certified for in-vehicle use, like PROXusb. To fulfil these customer requirements, too, INIT is working on a PIN pad to complement PROXusb.

Whichever contactless payments solution you choose, you will benefit from lower cash handling costs and faster boarding times. Passenger safety will also be improved since physical distancing measures will be maintained.


Klaus Janke

Executive Director