Automatic Fare Collection as a Service

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jis

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I came across this interesting article in Railway Age (Yes they do publish articles other than moaning about Amtrak and its food service)

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/the-best-ticket-is-no-ticket/

Interesting article on the evolution of fare collection systems towards off the shelf systems that are easy to integrate with other systems and yet can be deployed and operated with less expense than legacy systems.

Some early examples in the US include Portland MAX, Denver RTD and even Chicago CTA among others. A very large example in the process of being deployed is New York's MTA which is in the process of deploying a system that comes with all the features that London's Oyster system has packaged in it. NY MTA can choose to use whichever of those features it wants to use and not use the ones it does not want to use. But they can now easily accept payment through contactless cards, AFC enabled Smartphones and such, essentially out of the box, instead of doing their own custom development.

Thought some might find it interesting...

Incidentally, Amtrak uses a ticketing system with some similar features, but developed in house, and less capable of integrating with other related Apps that is described in the article.

Incidentally I have actually used an early deployment of the NY system at Union Square. Used my Apple Watch and the payment at the turnstile was pretty much instantaneous. Not surprisingly the experience was exactly the same as in London using their Oyster system with my iPhone. Afterall both are based on the same platform. London does some really nifty stuff like collecting fare only upto the Day Pass fare and then cease collecting any additional fare for the rest of the day. That is particularly complex in London with its 7 zones and different fares before 9am and after, together with all the possible inter-zone fare combinations.
 

railiner

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I wonder if the NYC system will ever implement fare zones? Could raise a lot of revenue that way....
I imagine it would meet with strong resistance...
 

jis

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I wonder if the NYC system will ever implement fare zones? Could raise a lot of revenue that way....
I imagine it would meet with strong resistance...
I think such a thing is traditionally politically infeasible in New York City at least for the Subway and core Bus system.
 

Anderson

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I think such a thing is traditionally politically infeasible in New York City at least for the Subway and core Bus system.
Agreed. You could probably have some "zones" if you extended 7 into NJ (as I think has been suggested) or something similar, but the baseline system as of now? Not so much.
 

Willbridge

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I think such a thing is traditionally politically infeasible in New York City at least for the Subway and core Bus system.
I read (in a history of NYC public art!) that zone fares were considered originally, but were not adopted in order to encourage gentrification of Manhattan. Progressives favored getting the huddled masses of the East Side out to the fresh air of the Bronx and Queens. Of course, though zone fares existed from the industry's earliest days, collection of them was always a hurdle. As this thread indicates, technical limits have been overcome, but politics remain.

{Disclaimer: I've been involved in numerous fare issues before retirement, except for the current Denver-RTD structure. My preference in a big metro system is for zone fares, which requires some thought, but staff rarely gets the last word.}
 
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railiner

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There were some zone fares in NYC of a sort...when the TA took over the Rockaway lines of the LIRR in the ‘50’s, they charged a double fare for that extension for many years.
In addition, certain very long local bus routes collected an extra fare at zone points , such as the Q-60...
 

jis

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There has been haphazard route specific additional fares on occasions in New York. But there has never been a universal zone definition covering all modes uniformly in NYC. Across the river North NJ has been ripe for zone fares but what exists is an ungodly mess instead.

Nothing even vaguely close to for example the London zone diagram which applies to all modes, like...

https://cdn.shortpixel.ai/spai/w_791+q_lossless+ret_img+to_webp/https://evanevanstours.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Colour-coded-map-of-the-London-zones-showing-the-spectral-topography-of-the-city-Note-1.png



LIRR has something that vaguely resembles this for their fares with the zones oddly numbered as 1, 3, 4, 7, 9, 10, 12, 14. MNRR has zones 1 through 10. The zone fares for the same zone number do not match between LIRR and MNRR, so they are essentially two disconnected systems.

NJT RO has not managed to rationalize its fares between the Newark Division and Hoboken Division after half a century almost.

And for all, forget about any rationality to any bus fares and any rationalization of them with train fares like is common in London and Paris and such.

Tradition in the NY area weighs heavily against rationalizing anything. They love their collective irrationality, while looking down on everyone else for theirs :D

Fortunately, these off the shelf AFC systems, do not particularly care what crazy fare systems anyone chooses. As long as it is given a table showing what fare to charge at each turnstile, or for a ticket between any two station pairs, it is happy to mindlessly apply it, way more efficiently than any human being, and carry on. ;)
 
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seat38a

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But we all know there will be people who will come out who will refuse to use the new system and how forcing the change on them would be unconstitutional, unfair, against ADA, unfair to old people, etc..(I'm sure I'm missing tons.) :D
 

Tom Booth

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I wonder if the NYC system will ever implement fare zones? Could raise a lot of revenue that way....
I imagine it would meet with strong resistance...
It would also defeat the purpose of treating everyone in the city equally on the subway. That's a mission of the subways since the city took over the BMT and IRT to combine with the IND. The same fares help promote city unity.
 

City of Miami

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I was so impressed last month when I could pay my fare on CMTA Blue Line at ORD by simply tapping my credit card on the turnstile. Too easy!
 

Devil's Advocate

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But we all know there will be people who will come out who will refuse to use the new system and how forcing the change on them would be unconstitutional, unfair, against ADA, unfair to old people, etc..(I'm sure I'm missing tons.) :D
Yeah, screw people who need help or are just barely getting by because eff those guys, right?
 

seat38a

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I read (in a history of NYC public art!) that zone fares were considered originally, but were not adopted in order to encourage gentrification of Manhattan. Progressives favored getting the huddled masses of the East Side out to the fresh air of the Bronx and Queens. Of course, though zone fares existed from the industry's earliest days, collection of them was always a hurdle. As this thread indicates, technical limits have been overcome, but politics remain.

{Disclaimer: I've been involved in numerous fare issues before retirement, except for the current Denver-RTD structure. My preference in a big metro system is for zone fares, which requires some thought, but staff rarely gets the last word.}
When I first visited London in 1997, I got penalized for going out of my zone from 1 to 2. Got fined 25 GBP to get out. Staff would not budge. I paid the fine in cash and went on my way. The GBP was much stronger then which made the fine somewhere around $40+ USD.
 

seat38a

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I came across this interesting article in Railway Age (Yes they do publish articles other than moaning about Amtrak and its food service)

https://www.railwayage.com/passenger/the-best-ticket-is-no-ticket/

Interesting article on the evolution of fare collection systems towards off the shelf systems that are easy to integrate with other systems and yet can be deployed and operated with less expense than legacy systems.

Some early examples in the US include Portland MAX, Denver RTD and even Chicago CTA among others. A very large example in the process of being deployed is New York's MTA which is in the process of deploying a system that comes with all the features that London's Oyster system has packaged in it. NY MTA can choose to use whichever of those features it wants to use and not use the ones it does not want to use. But they can now easily accept payment through contactless cards, AFC enabled Smartphones and such, essentially out of the box, instead of doing their own custom development.

Thought some might find it interesting...

Incidentally, Amtrak uses a ticketing system with some similar features, but developed in house, and less capable of integrating with other related Apps that is described in the article.

Incidentally I have actually used an early deployment of the NY system at Union Square. Used my Apple Watch and the payment at the turnstile was pretty much instantaneous. Not surprisingly the experience was exactly the same as in London using their Oyster system with my iPhone. Afterall both are based on the same platform. London does some really nifty stuff like collecting fare only upto the Day Pass fare and then cease collecting any additional fare for the rest of the day. That is particularly complex in London with its 7 zones and different fares before 9am and after, together with all the possible inter-zone fare combinations.
I like London's system where they only collect up to the day pass limit but one thing that drove me nuts about London was the accidental trigger of fines even with the Oyster Cards. I just worry about how all the fines would be handled with contactless payment systems like those above. Oyster cards have a finite fund, but a credit cards and debit cards have up to their spend limit.

I was in the wrong station and I got fined for tapping in and tapping out at the same station. (The gentleman at the window reversed it and told me not to do it again.)

I believe it was at vauxhall station, where there was construction going on and I tapped an Oyster Sensor pad without actual turnstyles. Well got fined for that as well. Got this one reversed as well after telling the gentleman at Oxford Circus that I started at vauxhall.

Correct me if I'm wrong but I think double tapping on the same sensor accidentally also triggers a fine.
 

seat38a

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Yeah, screw people who need help or are just barely getting by because eff those guys, right?
Nope, those riders already do quite fine with the current system on public transit like subways and commuter rail and will probably be totally fine with whatever changes come in the future. I was referring to Amtrak riders (more like AU members who ride Amtrak) who seem to be a bit more helpless and or have higher aversion to change vs their commuter train riding counterparts. :p I should have been clearer between the two. Discussed something similar on the thread about Temporary Transbay Terminal "Quietly" Closing.
 

me_little_me

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Nope, those riders already do quite fine with the current system on public transit like subways and commuter rail and will probably be totally fine with whatever changes come in the future. I was referring to Amtrak riders (more like AU members who ride Amtrak) who seem to be a bit more helpless and or have higher aversion to change vs their commuter train riding counterparts. :p I should have been clearer between the two. Discussed something similar on the thread about Temporary Transbay Terminal "Quietly" Closing.
Speak for yourself. Some of us have more trouble with some of the newer systems especially if we are from out of town and unfamiliar with local rules. Some of us also remember the days before every app, every card and every system was more interested in gathering personal information from users than in providing one with a product.

And some of us have trouble remembering what to do this time.
 

seat38a

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Speak for yourself. Some of us have more trouble with some of the newer systems especially if we are from out of town and unfamiliar with local rules. Some of us also remember the days before every app, every card and every system was more interested in gathering personal information from users than in providing one with a product.

And some of us have trouble remembering what to do this time.
What exactly do you have to remember or need to know to be able to waive one of many contactless payment options at the sensor when you enter the system and or exit the system? I lost count of how many transit cards I've had to buy when I visit a new place. Oyster, Compass, Tap just the 3 that are sitting on my desk collecting dust and still with money on them that I can't freely access. The idea is that you don't need to know how the local system works. You tap and go, no need to fidget around pushing buttons on the TVM's trying to get English to show up or also trying to figure out the exact fare.

I was trying to make a joke (obviously it didn't go down well :() of how many people on here have a reversion to change even if it was designed to make your life easier. I've got a long memory (which can be a curse sometime) and remember many former posts which brought me to make my original post above. I guess it was funny in my head in context of some of the old posts.
 

jis

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IMHO one of the more difficult things to figure out on the tap and go systems, is when to tap and when not. It is pretty obvious on gated systems. You tap to get through the gate unless the gate opens without a tap. But on these tap posts in POP system there always remains residual confusion about when to tap and even more importantly when not to tap, since on some systems an erroneous tap can cause the beginning of chain o0f confusion leading potentially to a fine. But the one uniform good thing about the NFC device/card systems is that there is an audit trail of what taps happened where, so it is a good idea to check with an agent if confused and they can check what happened and fix things up.

There are possibilities of confusion even in paper ticket systems depending on how it is handled. For example, on NJT they "lift" the ticket, as in take the entire ticket away from you leaving no real proof that you paid for anything. They stick a seat check, which can and is sometimes stolen, and then you have zero proof that you paid for anything and are totally at the mercy of what the Conductor decides happened. You have no audit trail to make your case.

So each system irrespective of whether it uses NFC devices or Paper devices can have issues depending on how the device is integrated in the voerall system. Some do it better than others.
 
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I find the vending machines to be the downfall and most complex part of most transit systems. When I was in Lisbon practically every station had a back up of locals and tourists trying to figure out how to add value - the cards were also hard to decipher as to whether they were short length or value added (someone slipped me a card with a few euro's on it at the airport while my friends bought tickets that never seemed to work). And I'm used to CTA vending machines at this point (by this point I haven't touched a Metra machine in eons - there may still may be some vintage units floating around for you collectors).
 

Anderson

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Speaking to issues with tapping, I know that you have a lot of "tap on" systems but it isn't always clear when you need to "tap off". For example, LA doesn't involve a tap off, IIRC.

Edit: A "bad" but consistent practice (or pair of practices, with a clear indication that a system uses "Method A" or "Method B") probably makes more sense than sorting out the "best practice" everywhere.
 

JRR

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IMHO one of the more difficult things to figure out on the tap and go systems, is when to tap and when not. It is pretty obvious on gated systems. You tap to get through the gate unless the gate opens without a tap. But on these tap posts in POP system there always remains residual confusion about when to tap and even more importantly when not to tap, since on some systems an erroneous tap can cause the beginning of chain o0f confusion leading potentially to a fine. But the one uniform good thing about the NFC device/card systems is that there is an audit trail of what taps happened where, so it is a good idea to check with an agent if confused and they can check what happened and fix things up.

There are possibilities of confusion even in paper ticket systems depending on how it is handled. For example, on NJT they "lift" the ticket, as in take the entire ticket away from you leaving no real proof that you paid for anything. They stick a seat check, which can and is sometimes stolen, and then you have zero proof that you paid for anything and are totally at the mercy of what the Conductor decides happened. You have no audit trail to make your case.

So each system irrespective of whether it uses NFC devices or Paper devices can have issues depending on how the device is integrated in the voerall system. Some do it better than others.
I agree with the “ confusion “ thing. My wife and I were in LA and didn’t find out until our third day that we were supposed to be “ tapping” our card. We only found out by accident when talking to a fellow passenger on the Red Line. No one was ever checking but I guess we could have gotten in trouble for not tapping.
 

MARC Rider

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IMHO one of the more difficult things to figure out on the tap and go systems, is when to tap and when not. It is pretty obvious on gated systems. You tap to get through the gate unless the gate opens without a tap. But on these tap posts in POP system there always remains residual confusion about when to tap and even more importantly when not to tap, since on some systems an erroneous tap can cause the beginning of chain o0f confusion leading potentially to a fine. But the one uniform good thing about the NFC device/card systems is that there is an audit trail of what taps happened where, so it is a good idea to check with an agent if confused and they can check what happened and fix things up.

There are possibilities of confusion even in paper ticket systems depending on how it is handled. For example, on NJT they "lift" the ticket, as in take the entire ticket away from you leaving no real proof that you paid for anything. They stick a seat check, which can and is sometimes stolen, and then you have zero proof that you paid for anything and are totally at the mercy of what the Conductor decides happened. You have no audit trail to make your case.

So each system irrespective of whether it uses NFC devices or Paper devices can have issues depending on how the device is integrated in the overall system. Some do it better than others.
In the paper ticket days of Amtrak, they left you with a ticket stub after they lifted your ticket. Today, you still have your e-ticket as a receipt, even after they scan you. On Metro-North, LIRR and NJT, when you use the app, your validated ticket still shows up through the whole ride, and the same is true when you ride DART in Dallas. Of course, if you're using a phone, you're screwed if the battery runs down while you're riding.

I did have one confusing experience on SEPTA they day after I got my free Senior Key Card. I rode up to Fern Rock on the Broad Street Subway, no problem there, it's a gated system. Then I too Regional Rail back into Center City, and I seem to remember that there was something I was supposed to tap somewhere on the platform, but there weren't any signs telling me what I was supposed to do. So I just boarded the next train, not that there was a problem, as conductors on SEPTA Regional Rail appear to be as common as tasty food in Contemporary flex dining on the eastern LD trains.
 
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There were a couple of places that the MTA charged double fares. In addition to the Rockaways, they charged 10 cents instead of 5 for service to the World's fair.
 

flitcraft

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Speaking to issues with tapping, I know that you have a lot of "tap on" systems but it isn't always clear when you need to "tap off". For example, LA doesn't involve a tap off, IIRC.

Edit: A "bad" but consistent practice (or pair of practices, with a clear indication that a system uses "Method A" or "Method B") probably makes more sense than sorting out the "best practice" everywhere.
Seattle's transit system is inconsistent--the light rail uses a tap on, tap off system, but the streetcars are tap on only. I was told that the light rail was designed to allow for differential fare zones, thus the need to tap out, but at the moment at least, it's a single fare. Still, having the two divergent systems is unnecessarily confusing even to locals.
 
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