New Age Automated Fare Collection (AFC) expectations and opportunities

Feb 22, 2019 | Mumbai (India) | METRORAILNEWS

Authored by – Bhushan Vartak, Delivery Head - Engineering Solutions, Datamatics

Public transport is at the heart of trade and commerce. An efficient transport system helps in fuelling the economic progress of a nation. At present we are witnessing a massive surge in Mass Rapid Transit Systems, such as railways, buses, metros, monorails, etc.,. In addition, with the introduction of faster modes of transportation, such as Hyperloop, high speed underwater trains, Magvels, etc., the need to manage the incoming public traffic and avoid bottlenecks at ticket counters, especially during peak hours, becomes a necessity. Also during connected journeys spanning bus, rail, metro rail, water-way, and cab routes in close knit suburbs and satellite towns, the burden on the city infrastructure and the  corresponding management authorities becomes difficult to handle. Automated Fare Collection, popularly known as AFC, helps in reducing the burden on the ticket vending manpower; however, it now needs to  take on new challenges faced by transport operators. The millennial passenger is expecting integrated seamless mobility and better user experience. The modern AFC system should go beyond the traditional  AFC mindset and help transport operators interact with passengers like retail consumers.


What are the new expectations from AFC?

While traditional AFC helps transport operators to use closed loop (proprietary) smart cards and smart token as ticketing media, it is poised to get revolutionized with new technologies, new regulations,  and standards from government entities. We are now getting into an era of seamless travel for passengers using advanced technologies, such as Account based ticketing, open loop, Quick Response (QR) code, Near Field Communication (NFC), and Mobile ticketing. With new ticketing media and advancement in smart phones, a mobile app is soon becoming the main interface between passengers and transport operators. Passengers are now expecting ticketing to be seamless with no hassles. They do not have the patience to wait at ticketing counters; they want an intuitive travel planner for an end-to- end journey. They would like to have their travel information at their figure tips.

At the same time, transport operators want to use the technology to better connect and understand passenger behaviours. Transport operators want better monetization of their investments by increasing footfall, launching loyalty programs, and offering discounts at local popular retail outlets. They would like to increase the advertisement revenue using latest technologies whilst automating maintenance of AFC equipment to minimize downtime, optimize operational costs, and reduce operational overhead of token management.

Datamatics' TruFare is a truly flexible and extensible AFC ticketing platform, which not only provides traditional closed loop fare collection environment utilizing contactless smartcards, but also integrates very well with the open loop middleware that we have built. The interface APIs of TruFare makes the platform extensible, allowing us to integrate it with other ticketing modules, such as open  loop middleware and other third party specialized systems. Moreover, use of open APIs in the TruFare  platform ensures that the AFC system is open to integration with new third party solutions, which might be required for a specific purpose.

Figure 1: Possibilities with Datamatics' TruFare Ticketing Platform
(In the Inset – Please provide following information about our TruFare Platform )


Business Impact

While traditionally AFC helps in regulating footfall at crowded places ensuring safe and secure transit for authorized travellers and zero revenue leakage for the collection authorities, new age AFC provides the following benefits to transport operators:

  • Multi-modal transit allowing 'one city one card' concept, which can be holistically extended to 'one nation one card'
  • Improved capability to handle enormous volumes yet maintaining seamless system response and high quality user experience
  • Improved passenger footfall due to seamless and intuitive journey planner and ticketing
  • Increased revenue with loyalty programs and seamless ticketing till the last mile
  • Reduced operational costs with modern online, mobile-based maintenance solutions
  • Increased advertisements revenue using mobile technology
  • Reduced operational costs as tokens are replacing Mobile based QR code tickets
  • Attracting new passengers towards public transport by providing convenient and seamless transport experience
  • Opportunities to increase revenue by monetizing the data gathered at central servers
  • Option of using the new age technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, for assisting law enforcement agencies


Bettering customer experience through use of chatbots, Amazon Alexa (Smart Speaker), and other virtual assistant technologies