To plan your route taking into account the situation on the roads, to pay your fare using your smart phone, to identify those who travel without paying or to perform a comprehensive analysis of the city’s passenger traffic - all this is part of the new generation payment system for passenger fares pilot tested in St. Petersburg. The system is a follow up to a concept developed by the Analytical Center experts together with ITMO University with the support of the Russian Ministry of Transport.
The solution piloted in St. Petersburg gives a start to third generation fare payment systems in passenger transport. The first generation of fair payment tools used ticket punchers to control passenger traffic, the second ‘wave’ involves special devices, such as ticket gates and validators, top-up terminals, as well as fare inspectors, while the third generation changes the logic of the process from ‘hardware’ to centralized software and advanced math, allowing for information services, which ‘think’ about the passenger’s route, identify gate crashers, and signal equipment failure.
The information/fare payment system is an advanced software bringing all equipment together under the same cloud. For passengers, this first of all means that they can use any means of identification to pay their fares, so long as it is linked to the system, be that a smart phone application, a magnetic pass, a credit card, a smart key holder or bracelet, or a QR code. Paying a fare is even possible by calling a number you can find in the bus, and top up can be done by cash via a terminal, or by credit card via a website, or, say, using messengers like Telegram. The driver has his own terminal, which allows him to monitor the situation on the road and traffic along the route, the number of toll evaders and the technical condition of his vehicle; it will also report incidents, and additional functions can be introduced using tablets and passenger devices. To traffic companies this technology gives automated business processes and a unified reporting and analysis system.
During the pilot test, journalists and city administration were given a chance to ride along Vasilyevsky Island in two buses learning about the work of the new payment system. Igor Albin, Vice-Governor of St Petersburg, explained that the current plan was to pilot the system on one of the routes of Passagiravtotrans using driver terminals alone, without passenger validators. The full system may then be deployed in the next few years.
“Modern technology development brings significant changes both to our lives and to the way people interact with each other, with the government and businesses, including traffic interaction. Services like Uber, Yandex Taxi, GetTaxi have caused the taxi service to become the only transportation service to use information technology to cut costs and improve the quality of their services in a major way. Passenger transport is also at a turning point right now with brand new technology about to bring major changes,” Alexander Malakhov, Head of Department for Information Technologies at the Analytical Center, commented on the situation.
“It took six months from idea to the actual application. The main advantage is that your payment means are always at hand, and there is a host of analytical applications, which help with logistics and passenger traffic monitoring. Thanks to this intellectual system, users can plan their travel time, routes, and even budget fares. But we are at the beginning of this process yet. Testing the system will take time, and it will need to be done on more than one route," Igor Albin, Vice-Governor of St. Petersburg, said.
Photos by ITMO University press service