Transport Ticketing in India

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Transport Ticketing in India: How to Create a Sustainable Ecosystem

Today, over 108 million people in India live in cities, a figure that is rising all the time. This places considerable pressure on public transport. To meet this demand, a growing number of Indian cities have introduced metro systems. These form part of India’s multi-modal public transport networks, incorporating metro, bus, train and ferry systems. There are multiple operators: metro systems are managed by the Ministry of Urban Development, the railways by the Ministry of Railways, buses by local agencies specific to each state and ferries are privately operated. This leads to many connections between modalities, operators and lines. Together these factors create considerable complexity.

There is therefore a clear need to enable seamless, efficient, multi-modal travel for the growing urban population and to integrate payment collection across these different modes and organizations. At the same time there is also a desire in India to move away from cash for other low value retail payments. So, what is the future of transport ticketing in India and how can the operators create a sustainable ecosystem that is able to develop to meet long term user and national requirements?

Open Interoperable Ticketing for India

Given the complexity of transport networks in India and the possible services that could be integrated, it is essential to have an open interoperable specification for automated fare collection (AFC) that also supports low value in-store payments and other applications such as loyalty programs or couponing. Any proposed specification should address issues of interoperability related to passes and business rules of transport operators. This interoperability should make it easy to validate the passes in an offline environment as well as ensure that the same cards can be used seamlessly across metros in different cities.

EMV-Based Open Loop System

Using EMV, with its concepts proven in the payments world, will guarantee security without compromise or reduction in usability. The speci cation can achieve this through advanced cryptograms and, to support authentication, keys that have to be shared between acquirers and issuers with relevant security mechanisms.

Another important factor is that EMV chip cards are now accepted for payments throughout India with all banks issuing EMV cards. The migration is scheduled to be completed in 2016. Bank account use is growing too, with a massive push launched in 2014 to reduce financial exclusion. These arguments all added up to a convincing case for choosing an EMV-based open loop system, rather than locking India into a proprietary closed loop system.

Existing Account-Based Ticketing Systems

India will not be the first to implement account-based ticketing systems. In 2009 Salt Lake City in Utah introduced contactless open loop ticketing and similar systems were launched later in Chicago and trialled in New York, although these were not based on EMV Specifications.

The reference implementation for many operators is London, where TfL added EMV-based fare collection to its existing Oyster Card scheme in 2012 for buses and 2014 for the metro (the London Underground). This system allows customers to use their existing contactless bank cards and implements daily and weekly capping of fares to ensure that bank card users do not pay more than Oyster Card holders.

In South Africa, Transport for Cape Town also uses contactless EMV cards for anonymized transport ticketing. There is an intention to extend the scheme throughout the country.

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