Integrated fare system is not a new idea solving a new problem, many other urban transit providers around the world had faced similar challenges and successfully implemented the solutions.
On the business side, GTA had experienced steady growth in ridership for the past 20 years. [Delivering Transit Service in the GTHA] This increase in ridership demand drives the need for increasing supply.
There are 2 major operation trends: increase operating efficiency and increase service quality. Increase operating efficiency entails providing more transit service with less cost; it requires more precise prediction of ridership patterns and volume. For example, Hong Kong’s MTR system utilizes a customer classification to understand typical travel patterns. [Data Analytics in Urban Transportation] Also, London Overground implemented an automated data collection system to measure the wait time. [Data Analytics in Urban Transportation] All these business intelligence capabilities require real time foot-traffic data.
In terms of service quality, there is a shift of operating model from traditional transit operator to transit service provider, and more emphasis has put on customer satisfaction. For example, a unified customer satisfaction survey is implemented across 19 transit service providers in North America by the American Bus Benchmarking Group, in order to compare the quality of services. The comparison includes Safety, Cleanliness, Availability, Ease of Use and Customer Care. [RTA Customer Satisfaction Survey 2016] These survey results provide an objective but direct indicator of the quality of transit services. Inter-industry benchmarking on increasing service quality is also encouraged. For example, reward and loyalty programs were integrated to incentivize frequent travelers and to provide a more personalized customer experience. These ideas were borrowed from the airline industry, and are applicable to urban transit services. [Emerging Transit Trends In 2015]
More specifically, Other transit systems have focused on service quality improvement regarding the fare payment services. One important aspect is modernizing form of payment. Many vendors provide technology to accept payment in contactless cards, smartcards, mobile payment or Bitcoin. [Emerging Transit Trends In 2015] These technologies has dramatically transformed transit fare services, such as Sydney’s Opal Card, London’s Oyster card, Hong Kong’s Octopus card, etc. [List of smart cards]
Integrated transit system itself is enabled by technological advancement. For example, Rapid Transit in Germany invested heavily in IT for its integrated transit network. Some of IT systems are interactive timetable compilation, passenger transport sales and passenger information systems. These IT solutions allow complex Deutsche Bahn to operate efficiently and accurately. [DB Systel Overview]
From the enterprise architecture point of view, enterprise continuum has been developed for the transit industry, and SOA has been recognized as the standard architecture pattern for automated fare collection. The Reference Enterprise Architecture for Transit Open Payment System has been developed by the Smart Card Alliance Transportation Council. [Reference Enterprise Architecture for Transit Open Payment System White Paper] in addition, various technical solutions are available. Trapeze, a leading transit IT provider, offers solution for smart card solutions, station validators, customer service terminal and customer web portal, etc. [Automated Transit Fare Collection System (AFC)] Finally, due to the high-frequency nature of the automated fare transactions, a Clearing House is often implemented as the Central Management System, Clearing House originated from financial industry, and is used in stock exchanges to facilitate the high frequency transactions. Clearing House is an important component of the integrated fare system. [Automated Fare Collection]