ITS FAQs

ITS Frequently Asked Questions

Q1:  Why Smart Cards?
Q2:  What will the ITS smart card do?
Q3:  How much will the ITS card cost?
Q4:  Why is it called the “Integrated” smart card?
Q5:  Why don’t you use an existing system?
Q6:  Why don’t you use ITSO or VDV or Calypso?
Q7:  Why don’t you use Mobile Phones (NFC or SMS ticketing) or contactless credit cards?
Q8:  Why can’t you just link up the existing Luas and Morton’s smart cards?
Q9:  I already have a smart card – What is going to happen?
Q10:  What is so complicated about the project?
Q11:  Why does the project cost so much?
Q12:  How is the project going to be rolled out?

Q1:  Why Smart Cards?

Smart cards are now the de-facto technology for transport ticketing, and there are examples of excellent applications in transport – for example Hong Kong’s Octopus card or Singapore’s Ezlink card. Closer to home is the Oyster card (London), and the Smart Pass (Belfast). Other schemes at various stages of implementation include Denmark (Rejeskort), the Netherlands, and Australia (Melbourne, Perth).

Q2:  What will the ITS smart card do?

The ITS card will hold travel credit, which you add to the card and then only spend as you travel on any of the participating transport providers. The ITS card will also be able to simultaneously hold a number of ticket products; for example, a time based ticket pass such as a weekly or monthly ticket. When you tag-on, the card reader shall look for a pre-loaded product, validate it if present/or if not found, shall deduct the fare from your travel credit.

The systems put in place shall include a smart card issuance and management system, a clearing house for apportioning funds between the participants, a common interface device between the participants computer systems and the ITS back-office, a common scheme card reader, a system to manage the system configuration, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) and internet facilities, test and certification facilities, security systems and a point-of-sale network, and others.

Q3:  How much will the ITS card cost?

This has not yet been decided, but it is likely to just be a small deposit, and the card will come with some money pre-loaded into the travel credit.

Q4:  Why is it called the “Integrated” smart card?

The project is to provide a common payment method and a common ticket product medium for use across public transport, irrespective of mode of travel or who the operator is. One of the objectives is to encourage increased usage of public transport by making modal transfers as seamless as possible, using the integrated smart card.

Q5:  Why don’t you use an existing system?

There are two main reasons – firstly, because we have to work with the existing equipment, and secondly because there is no system in existence that meets the requirements of the Irish market. However, where possible we are leaving it open to the market to use existing components.

Q6:  Why don’t you use ITSO or VDV or Calypso?

Firstly, there are no complete end-to-end standards for smart card transport ticketing, though ITSO (Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation) (www.itso.org.uk) is now probably the closest.  ITSO is not a turnkey solution, it is a specification, just as Paris uses a French-only specification (Calypso) and Germany uses its own (VDV) (Verband Deutscher Verkehrsunternehmen). (I.e. there is no common European standard).

For Dublin, when the project kicked off, ITSO had not advanced to the stage that it is at today, and now at this point changing to an ITSO application would be expensive and time-consuming. Additionally, ITSO does not include a central clearing house which is essential for Dublin.  Secondly, although there is an ITSO trial in progress with Oyster, the Oyster Card in London is not ITSO. (See ITSO News December 2005). Also, Northern Ireland’s scheme is not an ITSO one and it has no plans to become one.Thirdly, ITSO is primarily about achieving transport interoperability, whereas our main objective is to achieve transport integration.

Finally, where possible ITS will use applicable standards, such as ISO-14443, and the EU standard, "IOPTA" (InterOperable Public Transport Applications - Framework) Reference: IS EN 15320.

Q7:  Why don’t you use Mobile Phones (NFC or SMS ticketing) or contactless credit cards?

NFC (Near Field Communications) trials are occurring on transit (for example, Hanau in Germany) but overall the technology is somewhat unproven and given the current limited availability of NFC equipped mobile phones and no defined timeline for their availability, they have been ruled out for the immediate future.

SMS Ticketing is used by some bus operators for single journey tickets but has also been ruled out for the wider scheme as it does not support the range of ticketing needed, and the equipment necessary is not in place in the majority of operators.

Contactless credit cards such as:

Mastercard PayPass

Visa Wave 

American Express ExpressPay are growing in popularity.

However, they require a different infrastructure and for transit use would require all banks in Ireland to issue the cards to their customers (thus potentially limiting the audience) before they could be used for transit, and we are not aware of any defined timeline for this to occur.
 
We will however, continue to monitor developments in these areas.

Q8:  Why can’t you just link up the existing Luas and Morton’s smart cards?

Both of these systems are based on different equipment and are based on proprietary with incompatible designs.

Q9:  I already have a smart card – What is going to happen?

At the appropriate time we will begin to swap out these cards, offering existing smart card holders the opportunity to receive an ITS card. This will be done in a gradual manner and existing cardholders will have plenty of time and notice to change over.

Q10:  What is so complicated about the project?

The project is to provide a common payment method and a common smart card for all transport providers in Dublin.

Q11:  Why does the project cost so much?

The key factors impacting the cost are as follows:

(a) have to integrate with existing legacy equipment

(b) we are contributing towards the cost of new smart enabled equipment for operators

(c) there are no off-the-shelf systems that we could just buy that meet our requirements

(d) we have to get each transport operators’ equipment supplier to implement modifications to our specification

(e) we have to cater for the complexities of the existing ticketing arrangements

(f) we have to ensure that the card and transactions are secure

(g) we wish to also cater for the DSFA (Department of Social and Family Affairs) Free Travel Scheme

(h) we have to establish a helpdesk

(i) we have widened the project scope

(j) The increase is due to the longer implementation period for the project and the associated price inflation, increased contributions for the transport operators to reflect the cost of integration, the increased public transport investment under the Transport 21 plan, and inclusion of the technical requirements for the “Free Travel” link-up with DSFA. The budget also includes provision for contingency. 

Q12:  How is the project going to be rolled out?

Once the individual transport operators have completed the bedding in of their own systems (equipment and software) with interim smartcards, ITS will begin to integrate each operator’s equipment, one at a time. This will involve both hardware and software modifications, and after an appropriate testing period the transport operators will begin withdrawing their interim smart cards and ITS will begin to replace them with ITS cards.

Commercial Transport Operators - Frequently Asked Questions

Q1:  Who is eligible to take part in the Scheme?
Q2:  What are the benefits of joining the scheme for transport operators?
Q3:  What are the costs of taking part in the scheme for transport operators?
Q4:  When will the first transport operators be able to use the scheme in a live customer environment?
Q5:  What equipment will be required for transport operators?
Q6:  What will each transport operator have to do to take part in the scheme?
Q7:  How does a transport operator apply to take part in the scheme, or get further information?

Q1: Who is eligible to take part in the Scheme?

The scheme is open to transport operators who provide licensed public transport services within the Greater Dublin Area (GDA), or services that begin or terminate in the GDA.

 

Q2: What are the benefits of joining the scheme for transport operators?

This scheme is going to make paying for travelling around Dublin much easier for customers. The ITS Smart Card will be available through a wide range of sales channels and will be strongly promoted through marketing initiatives. Customers that have an ITS Smart Card will be more likely to want to travel with transport operators that have joined the scheme due to the convenience of using their card to pay for travel either on the bus, online or in the shops. This will make services offered by scheme participants more attractive to customers.

 

Q3: What are the costs of taking part in the scheme for transport operators?

The joining fee and equipment fee will be waived for transport operators who sign-up to take part while the project is being set up. However, transport operators that sign-up after the project has been delivered may have to pay a joining fee and equipment costs. Operational costs will be passed onto the transport operator to pay for the ongoing operation and maintenance of the scheme. These costs will be assessed based on the relative usage of each transport operator and will be outlined in a ‘participation agreement’.

 

Q4: When will the first transport operators be able to use the scheme in a live customer environment?

It is planned that transport operators that sign up to take part early will be able to use the scheme from the middle of 2011 depending on eligibility, successful testing and successful procurement of equipment. If transport operators would like to join the scheme around this timeframe they should contact Gerry Mullins now. (Contact details below)

 

Q5: What equipment will be required for transport operators?

Transport operators that join the scheme will be provided with Smart Card ticket machines as well as access to the back-office systems.

 

Q6: What will each transport operator have to do to take part in the scheme?

Gerry Mullins Chief Executive of the Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC) is currently negotiating a ‘participation agreement’ on behalf of private transport operators with RPA. Transport operators will have to sign up to this participation agreement in order to take part in the scheme.

Q7: How does a transport operator apply to take part in the scheme, or get further information?

If you are interested in joining, or have further questions on the scheme, please contact Gerry Mullins directly: 

By Post:

Gerry Mullins
Chief Executive
Coach Tourism & Transport Council (CTTC)
6th floor O'Connell Bridge House
D'Olier Street
Dublin 2
Ireland.

By Phone: +353 (0)86 020 9727

By email: gerry@cttc.ie

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