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So instead of buying a ticket or buying credit for an electronic card from vending machines at transit stations, passengers will register with the service at home, then swipe their phones with NFC technology to breeze through turnstiles all over the world.
The other founding members of the alliance include:
Scheidt & Bachmann, which delivers ticketing solutions for cities such as Boston, New York, Seattle and Vancouver;
Thales, a provider of fare collection management in more than 100 cities including Paris, Hong Kong, Toronto as well as in the national territories of Norway, Denmark and The Netherlands; and
Verifone Mobile Money, which provides complete mobile money solutions designed to meet the needs of mobile operators for telco-based money transfer and payment services in emerging markets.
Justus Brown, head of Urban Mobility at HERE, tells us: "We have already created a platform for transit and urban mobility. Ticketing is the logical next step. A user can get transit info today, but wouldn’t it be great if you could also compare costs and buy the ticket?"
The alliance is really good news for both travellers and transit operators.
As a traveller, using public transit abroad is often tricky and full of questions. Do you buy a ticket from the driver or from somewhere else? How does the machine work? What does this screen mean?
Being able to swipe your phone as you travel instead would make people a lot more confident and more likely to make use of transit when they travel.
Even at home, being able to use a device you always have with you is a much better solution than finding the right change or remembering to pick up (and charge) a separate card. The alliance aims to have the ability to recalculate your payments to find the cheapest fares, too. So if, for example, you take five trips and it turns out that a weekly ticket would have been cheaper than five separate tickets, that’s what you’ll be charged.
How do transit networks benefit? As Justus told us a few months ago:
“Travellers [from out of town] are often the most expensive customers for transit authorities. They don’t know the way. They don’t know how to get between platforms. They ask lots of questions.”
If these troublesome travellers are converted to quick and efficient customers because they already know how to pay for their ride, then that’s a win for the transit networks. In time, the transit authorities will also benefit from standardization and digitalization. Instead of issuing their own transit cards or apps for ticketing, they can rely on a standard solution from the market or providers like HERE.
OMTA member companies expect to have products available in several cities around the world in 2015. Companies can find out more about getting involved by requesting a whitepaper from the website.
As the pictures in this post show, the software side of enabling all this is pretty much done. "Our pilot in New York and the reference implementation show that the tech is already sitting there ready to work," says Justus. What’s being worked on now are agreements on the legal, financial and security aspects between all the players involved in bringing OMTA solutions to market.
Are you looking forward to a future where your phone can take you anywhere?
Disclaimer: all images included in this article are by OMTA and HERE and are for illustrative purpose only.