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Metro Rail News interviewed Mr. Sanjeev Subhedar, EVP & Head Engineering solution, Datamatics Global Services Limited, to understand the new trends & technologies in ticketing. Below is an excerpt from the interview:
What is your vision for Metro Rail in India?
Ans: The Metro Rail transits that are being built in India are quite advanced and futuristic in many aspects. Datamatics is a contributor for Automated Fare Collection (AFC) in this domain. We provide state-of-the-art technology in our projects, which is better off than many places in the western world. This is mainly because the latter were installed few years ago. In comparison, the technology that we provide today is quite advanced. Datamatics' vision is to provide 'futuristic AFC solutions' by using cutting edge technologies, such as Face Recognition, Blockchain for accounting, Account Based Ticketing system, Artificial Intelligence (AI) / Machine Learning (ML) driven journey support, and Big Data. We also envision providing far superior user experience using Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in this field.
What are the Challenges of Multi-modal transport Ticketing?
Ans: The current maturity of technology is quite capable of handling multi-modal ticketing. The real challenge is that the different transport operators do not participate in the initiative of common ticketing initiatives. Many reasons exist for them staying away from such initiatives, for example, they serve different segments and price points, face issues related to profitability and social responsibility compelling them for Fare structure. Such Fare structure restricts sharing revenue, transaction fees, etc. Hence the common ticketing commercial agreement amongst the different transport operators has not culminated so far and the initiative has not taken-off.
Any comments on One Nation-One Card?
Ans: 'One Nation One Card' is a very good initiative. Lot of work is needed from the government and regulatory authorities to realize this vision. At present, even a fully- operational multi-modal city-wide system is not functional. So, we have a long way to go. It is a significant beginning and hopefully we will collectively achieve this vision sooner than later.
What is the future of Biometric based ticketing system in India?
Ans: At present the Biometric based ticketing is not fully ready to meet the requirements of ticketing scenarios mainly due to the speed of biometric recognition and some other technical limitations. But it will catch up. As far as India is concerned, the problem becomes more complex as the crowd and footfall at transit points is humongous.
What are the features of ticketing solution deployed for Lucknow Metro?
Ans: Lucknow Metro is by far the fastest executed AFC project in India, while abiding with all the quality parameters and setting new benchmarks in the process. The state-of-the-art AFC system is designed to be highly secure, scalable, and reliable. The system uses smart gates, which accept contactless fare media. The Ticket Vending Machines (TVMs), Add Value Machines (AVMs), Ticket Office Machines (TOM), and Excess Fare Office (EFO)
machines are very user-friendly and modern, powered by the latest technology. The high usage of TVMs is a clear indicator of its user-friendly design. The modularity of the system allows integration with new technologies and fare media, such as Quick Reference Code (QR Code), Near Field Communication (NFC), etc. thus enhancing the overall capability of the system and reducing the total cost of ownership (TCO) for the transit operators. The transactions are made fully secure through the use of unique security keys and secure access module (SAM). This inhibits editing or copying of the fare media thus preventing fraud. The system significantly reduces operational costs, ensures zero revenue leakage, along with monitored access and transit. The system is integrated with a Central Clearing House System (CCHS) at Lucknow, India and is capable of extending the fare media / smart card, christened 'GoSmart card', for multi-modal transit all over Lucknow thus making the 'One City One Card' paradigm a powerful venture for the near future. The system is highly scalable and can cater to many transit agencies within and outside Lucknow. This card can also be used for non-transit service payments, such as property tax, BSNL mobile payment, etc. The card can even be extended to fulfill the 'One Nation One Card' exemplar or multi-modal transit all over the country, in the long run.
Do you think mobile ticketing will capture smartcard ticketing market?
Ans: Mobile is changing many things in our lives. It is expected that smart cards such as credit/debit, ID, Access, etc., will be replaced by 'the mobile' as it can emulate a smart card. As the mobile progressively replaces such smart cards, the same will happen to smart cards related to ticketing as well. However, it is a gradual process and will take some time. NFC and QR code will however speed-up the replacement of smart card tickets even before the mobile emulation method is used in AFC solutions.
What is virtual ticketing concept? Does it really work?
Ans: Virtualization is happening to so many things and will happen to ticketing media as well. Virtual Ticketing is another form of fare collection to manage rush hour traffic and footfall in order to avoid congestion and bottlenecks. Like many other changes it is also a change that would happen at certain pace and will take its own time. With appropriate technology and implementation there is no
reason it will not work.
How Artificial intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can be implemented in AFC?
Ans: There are many things, such as journey time optimization, ticket cost optimization, multi-stop round- trip planning, etc., which require data, and are possible only with AI/ML. Needless to say, Big Data will be an essential component of the solution.
What is Automatic Fare Collection Gate 'Swagat' and an Open Loop Automatic Fare Collection System 'Sweekar'?
Ans: SWAGAT is an Automatic Gate developed by BEL in collaboration with few other government agencies and SWEEKAR is a fare collection solution developed similarly. They are designed to accept Open Loop cards and the National Common Mobility Cards (NCMC).
What kind of AFC system is likely to be installed in Mumbai Metro line 2&7 and please share some of their features?
Ans: Mumbai Metro Line 2&7 AFC system is very advanced, yet very simple. It uses Mobile Ticketing with a simple and user-friendly app, QR code for a single journey, and a smart card for other types such as monthly passes, stored value mode, etc. The technology and the devices provided are fully ready for using Open Loop ticketing, such as contactless credit/debit cards, instead of using proprietary media, such as operator-specific smart cards and paper tickets. The equipment, which is being supplied is state-of-the-artand very robust. Special consideration has been given while designing the equipment for the Mumbai environment, i.e. its temperature, humidity, etc., as well as anticipated heavy usage due to high footfall and ridership. The ridership is expected to be 2.0 million passengers per day. This footfall volume is one of the highest in the world given that it is only 53 stations that too covering only a part of the Mumbai city.
Could you please share with us some of your innovations with regards to ticketing system and how they can help Metro operators to improve efficiency and reduce costs?
Ans: Datamatics is very keen on making use of innovative technologies to control and monetize increasing footfall as well as eliminate revenue leakage at all crowded transit points. We have already implemented many cutting-edge technologies available in the AFC domain in our projects. QR code is fast replacing the single journey smart tokens thus saving huge operational costs for the transport operators. Mobile ticketing is likely to save costs in a big way. As Biometrics based ticketing becomes a reality, huge costs will be saved as the need of fare media, such as smart cards, paper tickets, etc., will substantially reduce.
Do you serve to any other market segment aside from Metro Railway?
Ans: We are in many other segments such as, Automatic Tolling, Parking, Payment solutions, Retail Solutions, etc. AFC is just one of our focus segments. Datamatics has an independent Engineering Solutions and services practice. The company offers development, maintenance, integration, and testing of fare media solutions, front-end devices, station-level systems, and back-end systems for metro rail, bus, light rail, mono-rail, parking lots, etc. Datamatics also provides turnkey engineering solutions for mobility, internet of things (IoT), machine-to-machine (M2M) service enablement, and smart cities. The company has expertise and domain knowledge in Automotive, Consumer, Industrial, Retail, Healthcare, Transport, and Ancillary Banking. Using this, Datamatics enables building intelligent and futuristic connected devices and solutions that leverage IoT and M2M services for smart cities.
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