[LINK] Wireless Smartphone Transport Tickets

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Mon Jan 4 09:28:31 AEDT 2010

Ash Nallawalla wrote:
> For god's sake don't suggest a technical option to government ...

Some governments  have been able to get ticket systems to
work. As an example the near field smart card based systems seem to be 
working in Queensland <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_card>
and WA <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SmartRider>.

> My experience of public wi-fi (paid or free) has been negative. ...

Yes, I have had difficulty trying to use WiFi in a square in Crete. 
Unfortunately, I didn't know about the Heraklion MESH network set up by 
FORTH (the Greek NICTA): <http://www.ics.forth.gr/HMESH/>.

> ... If a single train has just 50 wi-fi users listening to streaming
> radio or watching video (never mind iPhone app downloads), I'd expect
> wi-fi to be unusable. ...

It may be that video and even audio would be so slow as to be unusable,
but this should not impede other services. Train systems and ticketing 
would get prioirty, then text based messages, web pages, images, audio 
and, last of all, video.

> Boston's Muni Wifi Woes Exacerbate the Digital Divide 
> http://www.openmediaboston.org/node/102

The Boston system is for a whole city, with no clear revenue model. If 
used to collect fares for a transit system, there is a source of funding 
to keep the system working and a strong incentive to do so.

> I have not understood why we are "different from other cities
> therefore we need a custom solution". ...

The UK has the non-profit "Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation"
with a specification for interoperability for smart ticketing schemes:
<http://www.itso.org.uk/>. Perhaps that could be used in Australia.

But I can understand how custom systems arise. When trying to get a new
system up and running it is much easier to build in special
cases than try to get people to change the way they do things.

Some transport systems do have unusual features, as an example the
Dubai metro has three classes of travel (Gold, Women/Children, and 
economy): <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubai_Metro#Trains>.

> How does a ticket inspector go around checking the e-tickets on these
>  phones? ...

The way to check a phone ticket would be for the person to hold up their 
phone, showing an image of what looks like a facsimile ticket. This 
could have a barcode to be read by a scanner held by the inspector. The 
passenger would not have to let go of their phone to do this.

A more high-tech way would be for the system to locate which seat people
with tickets are sitting in and present the inspector with a schematic
diagram. The ticket inspector then only has to look at the tickets of 
those not using the system.

> ... Since this idea has the ticket being dispensed inside
> a carriage, how does a turnstile ...

The Perth system copes with some stations having fare gates and some 

Tom Worthington FACS HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Lecturer, The Australian National University t: 02 61255694
Computer Science http://cs.anu.edu.au/people.php?StaffID=140274

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