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Tap on, tap off

Off the shelf smartcard payment for quick boarding
 
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The bus pulls to a stop. There's only a couple of people waiting to get on, so it shouldn't take long at- oh dear, it's looks like someone needs to find the right change. Just give them a minute, OK? Well, they've finally managed to sort that out. Now the person behind them has to figure out what stop they want to get off at, so the driver can figure out how much to charge them... _____________

Rather than dealing with such hassle, just scan your prepaid card when you get on the bus, and again when you get off. The bus driver will of course be watching you to make sure you do so when you board, but it shouldn't take more than a couple of seconds. Cards cost £5, and you'll have to pay to get them unlocked if they don't register as having left the bus. Any negative fare will render the card unusable until it's paid off. You can top up your card online, in selected stores, using ticket machines, or by mobile.

The company that operates this service will take a cut, perhaps 2.5%, of all transactions. Transport operators will be able to provide deals for their customers, say a 25% extra top up for students, members of the Armed Forces, and NHS workers. It is advised they ensure their is a separate entrance and exit available on their vehicles, to ensure passengers are not delayed by those exiting.

I'm aware this is likely mostly baked, though I do not think as thoroughly as I would like. I'm envisioning this system being used for trams and lightly used railway lines mainly, where 20-30 people could be boarding at once but there isn't enough demand to justify the cost of ticket barriers and a conductor would render the service unprofitable.

Selky, Apr 14 2017

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       //I'm aware this is likely mostly baked//   

       Uh, yes, for at least the last decade. If you have an Oystercard, you can use it to travel on buses, the underground, mainline trains, the Emirates cablecar and trams (yes, there are apparently still some) within the Greater London area. You just touch-in and touch-out, and top up your card as necessary.   

       I presume you're from the US?
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 14 2017
  

       No, from up north.   

       Is Oyster an off the shelf service? If I wanted to set up a Carnforth Metro service, would it be possible to equip a few midibuses with them and get going?
Selky, Apr 14 2017
  

       Most payment systems in America are primitive, and as they are as insular and dim brained as North Korea, it's no surprise that smart card payments like the Oyster are simply unknown.
xenzag, Apr 14 2017
  

       //No, from up north. // Crikey - how far up?   

       //Is Oyster an off the shelf service? If I wanted to set up a Carnforth Metro service...// No idea. It's a huge network, because ticket gates at tube stations; bus entrances; and all other Oysterable locations have readers.   

       I think if I were going to do something similar today, I'd make it phone-based instead.   

       Anyway, if you're from up north, I think the midibuses alone will totally blow people's minds, even without Oystercards.
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 14 2017
  

       Carnforth (hence the Carnforth Metro). Almost in Cumbria.   

       My thinking was triggered by the decision of Lancashire County Council to stop subsidising bus routes. There is/was talk about parishes running buses, I think an off-the-shelf payment system would definitely help. But it was also influenced by thinking about opportunities to utilise the spare capacity on railway lines (bring back Hest Bank railway station!), or for new systems that serve small towns. Ticket barriers would be expensive, and conductors even more so, but having everyone buy a ticket off the driver would be time consuming. Much faster to simply have the driver verify that people have scanned their smartcard whilst boarding. But for a small operation, it wouldn't make sense to develop a system like Oyster from scratch.
Selky, Apr 14 2017
  

       Ah Carnforth, close to glorious Morecombe where the dead are buried standing up in bus stops. No need for bus passes in the after life.
DenholmRicshaw, Apr 14 2017
  

       I've stopped using Oystercard - that ancient system was creaking. When I go by tube I tap in using my phone - android pay - which does the same as tapping in using the normal contactless card like your bank card, which does the same as Oystercard has been doing for more than twelve years. One of the problems with Oyster (a Mifare system) is that Trainspot for London got the system first, before almost everyone (except Singapore and a few others) and they got saddled with what turned out to be a bit of an inferior system compared to what was to come along a few years later. The move to contactless is good for both sides, as the contactless system is more sophisticated. For example, if you're PAYG (like more people should be if they'd realise) it can even do weekly capping (I forget what they call it).
Ian Tindale, Apr 14 2017
  

       I think they call it "weekly capping", [Ian].
MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 14 2017
  

       I heard that TfL developed the contactless tube payment system in-house. One of the quoted benefits of doing so is that they can license the technology to other transport networks. Perhaps Carnforth Metro should get in touch.
mitxela, Apr 14 2017
  

       I just looked it up and yes, they now do. A year ago it was only known as "Monday to Sunday capping" but nobody understood what that actually meant (as the ordinary Oystercard itself can't do that). It always needed explaining, by rephrasing it in terms of weekly capping.
Ian Tindale, Apr 14 2017
  

       Hmmm. Valid point about smartphones. Should be a lot cheaper and simpler to implement than a smartcard system, although perhaps harder for those who get subsidised transit at other people's expense to use.
Selky, Apr 14 2017
  

       San Diego has Monthly bus/trolley pass. Unlimited riding. Discount if old or infirm. No tapping on or off. Most wear around neck so driver can see as you board.
popbottle, Apr 15 2017
  

       Ireland, north and south, has free public transport for all those aged over 65. This results in OAPs tap dancing on and off.
xenzag, Apr 15 2017
  

       // Now the person behind them has to figure out what stop they want to get off at, so the driver can figure out how much to charge them //   

       That situation sounds absurd to me, for reasons that should become clear soon.   

       In Calgary, we tried a card payment system a few years ago and it was a huge failure (due to mismanagement by the company they contracted to build it or something like that). Now they're trying to try it again, with phones this time.   

       This is the current system:   

       One single fare, which costs $3.25 for adults, lasts 90 minutes, during which time you can ride as much as you want. If you want to go to a store (25-minute trip each way), spend 30 minutes shopping there, and go home, that's only one fare. If you want to take a 90- minute scenic route for what would otherwise be a 30-minute trip, that's fine too. This is in contrast to Toronto, where one fare is one ride, no matter how short, and you are obligated to take the most direct route available. (Toronto also has custom-made metal coins that you buy and then use to pay for transit…)   

       At the train stations, there are ticket vending machines, which take change and debit/credit cards, as well as Apple Pay (a recent addition), and give you a thermally printed paper ticket. You can buy "prepurchased tickets", which look totally different (commercially color printed on thick paper), in booklets of 10, costing $32.50 (no volume discount, which annoys me), at various drug, grocery, and convenience stores. There are also validators at the stations, where you stick one of your prepurchased tickets into a slot and it stamps the date/time on it. Either way, you now have a ticket with the date/time printed on it, which you can use on both the train and the bus.   

       On the bus, you can drop $3.25 cash into the farebox (exact change preferred; if necessary the driver can write you a voucher which you can redeem for change at a Calgary Transit Customer Service Centre, of which there are only two, two blocks apart, downtown), or drop one unvalidated prepurchased ticket torn out of your booklet in the farebox, or show the driver a prevalidated ticket (one from a TVM, or a prepurchased one that you stuck in a validator), when you get on. If your trip will be longer than this one bus, you can get a transfer from the driver, which is a slip of newspaper-type paper torn off so as to indicate time you boarded. You show this to the driver of the next bus, and if it was torn off less than 90 minutes ago, they let you on. (It's torn longer later in the day, so if you try to cheat by tearing yours shorter than the driver did, you'll only make it less valid.) Also, the driver only checks that you still have some of your 90 minutes remaining when you get on; once you're on, you can stay on as long as you want (unless the bus goes out of service, and the relief bus's driver happens to check fares, which they usually don't in that situation) (but to get on another route you'll have to pay again if your first fare expired).   

       On the train, nobody so much as asks if you paid most of the time. Probably many people regularly ride for free. Occasionally, though, a pair of Transit Peace Officers will come through the train and ask to see everybody's fares (tickets/passes/transfers). If you don't have one to show them, they'll kick you off and give you a $200 ticket (the bad kind of ticket).   

       In addition to single 90-minute fares, you can get a day pass for $10.00 (a TVM exclusive), or a monthly pass for $101.00 (available at some of the same stores as the ticket booklets, as well as Calgary Transit Customer Service Centres), both of which entitle you to unlimited riding until the end of the day (actually after midnight, when the bus routes end) or month. If you're currently a full-time postsecondary student, you can get a UPass, which lasts four months, and is a sticker that goes on your student ID. It's free to get one, because you already paid $130/semester as part of your school fees. If you are on a low/fixed income, you can get the low-income monthly pass, which is currently (as of this month) on a sliding scale depending on how low your income is, but I saw something in the news recently about making it $5/month (yes, just five dollars) for all low-income people. If you are 65 or older, you can get a yearly pass for somewhere between $95 and $135, depending on the current year and your birth month. If you are both on a low income and 65 or older, it seems there's also a discount for that but I can't find out what it is. If you are 17 or younger, you can get single fares for $2.25, day passes for $7.00, and monthly passes for $65. If you are 21 or younger and still in high school and carrying a student ID, you can get the youth discount on single fares only. If you are 5 or younger, or a pet, you can ride for free.   

       (Also, this is all subsidized by municipal taxes. Sometimes people complain that they're paying for transit that they never use, but they are always quickly rebutted with the argument that they do benefit from transit even though they don't ride it, because it's how their employees/customers/etc. get to them. Also, the UPass is a volume-discount thing where it's that cheap because all students have to pay for it, which causes some annoyance among the driving students, but the schools counter that with arguments like "in case your car breaks down".)   

       It sounds like an incredibly complicated and confusing system, but once you've used it a few times, it becomes easy to understand. I never hear anybody complain about it (apart from the tax subsidy and UPass). They are going to consider moving to tap- on/tap-off and zone-based fares with the new smartphone payment system, though.
notexactly, Apr 17 2017
  

       The transit system in Perth is tap-on and tap-off. The main difficulty is forgetting to tap-off.
AusCan531, Apr 17 2017
  
      
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