The pain you have to go through to travel abroad has always bugged me. I went on a Swiss walking holiday last year and had to buy our rail passes months in advance and there were so many options and routes from various airports that my wife and I burned many an hour discussing alternatives. How much easier would it be if there was an easy way to just buy a ticket from Ipswich to Wengen, Switzerland via any of those routes with your selected airline? Then choose the trains to fit your needs.
That was the dream of the OSPT Alliance and their ticketing interoperability initiatives. The UK transport industry, Department of Transport and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) instead went for the ITSO standard as national public transport Smart ticketing technology started to come into reality.
Now it appears the two organisations are beginning to work together to avoid the need for travellers to use two different formats and move towards common ticketing on Smart card and eventually Mobile phones, e.g. using NFC.
The International Transport Smartcard Organisation (ITSO) are a limited company who manage that standard from Milton Keynes. ITSO ticketing is one of four broad groups of fulfilment used by national rail. The others are paper tickets, primarily Credit Card Size Tickets (CCST), barcode (used for self printing) and Oyster which is the proprietary format card that has been so hugely successful in London. The ITSO members who supply ticketing and the terminals for validation at stations (so-called POSTs) and by handheld terminals on trains sign up to a code of practice for interoperability and security.
The OSPT Alliance defines the CIPURSE open standard, based on a number of contactless and Near Field Communications (NFC) specifications and it appears to be firmly aiming at the mobile App market. The V2 CIPURSE Mobile spec is published and available to members for evaluation.
We’re not sure exactly how closely these organisations will be working together. The press release today (reproduced below) mentions becoming members of each others’ committees and leveraging complementary aspects. It probably means there will be some kind of integration abstraction layer in the card or network back to the various back-end systems. It probably also means more complexity and work for apportionment and settlement systems run by people like our customer who spoke at the recent AWS Summit ”ATOC Rail Settlement Plan“. In some ways it makes apportionment easier as they should soon be able to track exactly where a customer using mobile ticketing travelled rather than apportion according to estimated volumes who take certain routes as they do today.
Whichever way you look at it, the future world of ticketing is likely to be mobile so what do rail customers think? The quote below comes from the excellent Passenger Focus report on ticketing – available on their website on the subject of buying tickets on their Mobile Phone.
Some respondents had experience of this being a helpful information source that was trusted to identify best tickets or fares for unfamiliar journeys, thereby allaying validity concerns. However all acknowledged that they were unlikely to buy tickets on the phone so these would still need to be purchased elsewhere, meaning that the choice/complexity paradox can only be partially overcome through this channel.
The full emailed press release from the OSPT Alliance is reproduced below:
The Open Standard for Public Transport™ (OSPT) Alliance and ITSO Ltd., the organization responsible for the UK national specification for smart ticketing, today announced they have agreed to participate as members in each other’s organizations and to explore ways they can work together to promote the use of open security standards in public transit for smart ticketing and electronic fare collection systems.
Through their shared commitment to the use of open standards, these two leading public transit standards bodies intend to leverage the complementary aspects of their standards and ecosystems and discuss how they could be combined to create solutions that would be mutually beneficial to their respective members.
“We are pleased to have ITSO join the OSPT Alliance as an associate member, and look forward to exploring how our shared vision for the future of open standards in public transit can result in a mutually beneficial relationship,” said Laurent Cremer, executive director for the OSPT Alliance. “ITSO is an established, recognized player in smart ticketing, and has developed some key technology we believe would be of great interest to OSPT Alliance members as they deploy fare collection systems based on the CIPURSE security standard.”
The CIPURSE open security standard addresses the need by local and regional transit authorities for future-proof fare collection systems with more advanced security than currently in use. Because it is an open standard, CIPURSE promotes vendor neutrality, cross-vendor system interoperability, lower technology adoption risks, higher quality and improved market responsiveness, all of which result in lower operating costs and greater flexibility for transport system operators.
“We welcome the OSPT Alliance as an affiliate member of ITSO, and look forward to their contribution in helping to ensure that public transport operators throughout the UK can continue to maintain the highest level of security in the smart ticketing systems they deploy,” said Lindsay Robertson, chief executive officer of ITSO. “We believe that by working with the OSPT Alliance, ITSO will be better able to supply its members with a more diverse set of card products, including AES-based products, which is a solution the OSPT Alliance can deliver off the shelf in the form of CIPURSE.”
ITSO Ltd. is the non-profit distributing organization that oversees the ITSO Specification for smart ticketing in the UK. ITSO helps its members to set up and run ITSO-compliant smart ticketing schemes, tests and certifies smart ticketing equipment to ensure it meets the ITSO standards and ensures the ITSO Specification is up to date and fit for purpose. ITSO operates the ITSO Security Management System (ISMS), a secure key management and distribution system specifically developed to enable ITSO-compliant smart ticketing systems to be set up.
About the OSPT Alliance
The OSPT Alliance is an international association chartered to define a new open standard for secure transit fare collection solutions. It provides industry education, creates workgroup opportunities and catalyzes the development and adoption of innovative fare collection technologies, applications and services. The OSPT Alliance was founded by leading technology companies, and membership is open to technology providers, transit operators, consultants, solution vendors, government agencies and other stakeholders in the transit ecosystem. For additional information, please visit www.osptalliance.org.