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www.thalesgroup.com FARE COLLECTION MANAGEMENT The OV-chipkaart story A NATIONWIDE INTEROPERABLE FARE COLLECTION SYSTEM IN THE NETHERLANDS

FARE COLLECTION MANAGEMENT The OV-chipkaart story · FARE COLLECTION MANAGEMENT The OV-chipkaart story A NATIONWIDE INTEROPERABLE FARE COLLECTION SYSTEM IN THE NETHERLANDS

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FARE COLLECTION MANAGEMENT

The OV-chipkaart story A NATIONWIDE INTEROPERABLE FARE COLLECTION SYSTEM IN THE NETHERLANDS

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Fare Collection Management 1

The OV-chipkaart Story

Executive Summary

OV-chipkaart stands for the new contactless transport card valid

across the Netherlands. The program started in 2001 in the mind

of the Dutch Ministry of Transport. The OV-chipkaart is now in

operation and has quickly become successful for transit service

providers and citizens. Flexible, easy to use and powerful, the OV-

chipkaart brings major benefits to any players in the Dutch transit

industry.

Beyond technical complexity, the delivery program has

concentrated many important challenges that are detailed in this

paper. The OV-chipkaart is first the replacement of existing paper

tickets by a plastic contactless smart card, containing private fare

products, interoperable products and the electronic purse. Thus, a

comprehensive governance model between the different operators

and authorities has been required, leading to fundamental changes

in the ticketing management processes.

In addition, this program has been an opportunity to set up a

robust model for interoperability of the fare collection system,

called SDOA: fare media, field equipment and back office

interfaces have been specified and certified. Last but not least, this

program has been and is still an amazing industrial adventure for

Thales.

Transit authorities, Transport operators and decision makers of the

transportation industry can find essential lessons learnt in this

document. Building a ticketing system seems to be simple but

could become extremely complex when the number of modes

of transport and the variety of players become as wide as

in the Netherlands.

This paper will first describe the key challenges of the

OV-chipkaart program. Then, we will detail

Thales proposal and implementation. As a third

step, we will address an important aspect of the

program: the Coordination Contract and the

SDOA, System Documentation Open

Architecture. Last, we will highlight the

main benefits and the further steps.

The

OV-chipkaart

brings major

benefits to any

players in the

Dutch transit

industry

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Fare Collection Management 2

The OV-chipkaart Story

Challenges of the OV-chipkaart

In the late 90s, Dutch citizens used to travel through the country with a

number of local fare media and two different paper tickets. They are in a

way the roots of the OV-chipkaart.

The railway ticket was in use in the network of the railway operator NS,

Nederlandse Spoorwegen. The price of the ticket was based on the origin

and the destination of the travel and calculated on the travel distance.

The Nationale Strippenkaart was in use in cities, Amsterdam, Rotterdam,

Den Haag and Utrecht for instance. The Strippenkaart is a set of strips,

typically 15, and each strip represents a unit that is valid in different

areas. As shown besides a trip may require one or several strips. When

entering the transport network, an agent stamps the relevant number of

strips, or the last one, to validate the Strippenkaart.

Distance-based fare policy and interoperable transport units are at the

fundaments of the OV-chipkaart: a unique transport card, to be used

anywhere, anytime, for any kind of travel, and able to support either

local fare products, for example monthly passes for commuters in a city,

and interoperable fare product.

The paper tickets have a number of limitations that the OV-chipkaart,

as a fully contactless electronic media, intends to solve. First, the

purchase of a fare product is simplified. Not only travelers can use

standard vending machines, but the can also take advantages of digital

features such as Internet sales, automatic reload when the balance of

the card is below a given value, etc.

Second, while validating the product, no stamp is required. The OV-

chipkaart is presented to a contactless validator that reads and writes

onto the card. The fare product validity is automatically checked, a

transaction is created, written on the card and sent to the back office.

The total duration for such process is less than 300 ms which makes it

compatible with boarding into a crowded bus or crossing an automated

gate.

Last but not least, at the end of the day, every transaction is collected to the back office and is

processed for settlement, clearing, and several kinds of reports: finance, usage, etc.

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Fare Collection Management 3

The OV-chipkaart Story

The OV-chipkaart program intended to tackle the security of transport in the Netherlands. On

one hand, transport operators were looking for a way to reduce the fraud, by using a more

secure fare media, a more secure ticketing system, and introducing systematic validation and

control. On the other hand, passenger security had to be improved by using automated gates

in the station and thus allowing entry to valid travelers only.

One of the key challenges of the OV-chipkaart program was to set up an interoperable solution

nationwide, all over the country, regardless the modes of transport and the operators: bus,

tram, metro, train, ferry, etc. It is a way to improve mobility for the traveler by easing the

transfer between the modes of transport. It is also a way to liberate the transit industry in the

Netherlands by introducing new competition at the industrial level and possibly connecting new

services: parking, retail, city card, etc. For such objectives, the interoperability must be

ensured, trusted and accepted.

Such program is definitely complex due to the above challenges, but also due to the number of

players and consequently the number of stations, equipment, etc. The table below summarizes

the key parameters of the program. In particular, we would highlight the number of provinces,

municipalities and transport operators that must join the program and make it possible for every

citizen.

Key parameters of the OV-chipkaart program

Inhabitants 16 millions Finance back office 1

Provinces 12 Ticket office machine 85

Municipalities 16 Ticket control unit 350

Transport Operators 5 Ticketing back-offices 8

Transactions per day 10 millions Ticket vending machines 700

Metro stations 100 Automatic gates 3,200

Train stations 410 Station processing system 175

Busses & Trams 5000 Validators 22,100

In 2001, the Dutch Ministry of Transport

enabled the creation of a private transit

authority called Trans Link Systems B.V.

(TLS), as a joint venture of the major

public transport operators. TLS was

mandated to coordinate the design, build,

and test program and operate the central

system of the OV-chipkaart over time. TLS

was established by the regional bus

operator Connexxion, the city operators

GVB (Amsterdam), HTM (The Hague), the

RET (Rotterdam) and the NS (Dutch

Railway Company). Together these five

companies provide 80% of public

transport services in the Netherlands.

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Fare Collection Management 4

The OV-chipkaart Story

TLS and the operators put in place the basis of the OV-chipkaart program. With Thales

expertise on the standardization work coming from ISO24014, the key roles of the transport

operators and TLS were defined:

- The transport operators are responsible for transporting travelers and operating

ticketing in their network. They are in charge of defining the private fare products,

promoting the electronic purse and selling interoperable products when appropriate,

buying ticketing infrastructure and maintaining it.

- TLS is responsible for the interoperability of the system, the certification process and the

definition of the interoperable fare products. TLS manages the card base, anonymous

and personalized cards, performs the clearing and the settlement of the revenue.

The below chart briefly describes the revenue sharing principles.

First, travelers purchase fare products or reload their electronic purse. The money goes to the

bank or to the sales agent. At the end, all the money flows to TLS. A part of the revenue (x%

and y%) is directly sent back to the sales agent and the clearing operator to cover their own

costs. The major part of the revenue is dedicated to finance transport operators and shared in

a fair manner depending on the usage rates.

The citizens travel through the network and each validation is recorded. From these trip

records, the revenue sharing operator calculates usage rates. These rates represent the real

usage of traveler through the different transport networks.

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Fare Collection Management 5

The OV-chipkaart Story

The core of the OV-chipkaart program is the definition of the electronic purse and interoperable

fare products, ie student passes or equivalent. The electronic purse is stored in the card and

deducted at each validation step. The traveler is invited to validate at each important step of

the trip: when he steps into a transport mode (check-in) and when he steps out of the same

transport mode (check-out). To make it viable in an intermodal, multi-operator environment,

the purse is ruled as shown on the drawing below.

On the railway, the purse value shall be over 20€ in order to limit the risk of non-payment. At

check-in, 20€ are deducted from the purse and the inspection agent will be able to verify this

by reading the card with a handheld equipment. At the end of the trip on the train, the traveler

checks out and the exact fare is calculated. The validator writes back on the card the correct

value of the purse.

The traveler can continue his trip by getting into a bus. While checking in, the downpayment is

only 4€ and the exact price is calculated at check-out depending on the exact length of the

journey. Increasing mobility is a key driver for the OV-chipkaart. As a consequence, the

traveler benefits from discounts if he transfers from one mode to another mode. The purse is

adjusted at every check-out depending on previous transfers.

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Fare Collection Management 6

The OV-chipkaart Story

Our proposal and implementation With the strong commitment to meet the challenges of the OV-

chipkaart program, Thales built the consortium called “EastWest”.

Such a name came from the roots of the proposed solution,

fundamentally inspired from the Thales experience in Hong Kong

shared by MTR Corporation and Octopus Card Limited. From East to

West, the EastWest consortium was born to serve the OV-chipkaart

program.

Along with Thales, the consortium was strong with two other

partners: Accenture, the consulting company and Vialis, a Dutch

company, specialized in electrical installation and maintenance. One

of the EastWest’ strength was the complementarity of the three

partners and the robustness of each individual company.

The EastWest consortium structured its offer with:

- Accenture, taking over the card management and revenue clearing operations

- Vialis, responsible for the site intervention, replacement and repair

- Thales, providing the ticketing systems, based on the experience of Hong Kong for

the metros and trains, the experience of fleet management in France for the bus

and trams, and the innovative “Open Architecture”.

Thales wanted the architecture of the ticketing systems to be as open as possible for a straight

forward interoperability. By “Open”, we meant to use standard protocols in any possible areas,

use distributed security with a Public Key Infrastructure and define a transaction model that

was specific to the Netherlands, but free and accessible by anybody.

EastWest proposal had been preferred to others competitors proposing solutions like in London

or in Singapore. Finally, EastWest was awarded by TLS in 2003 and started to work on seven

different contracts:

- One with each transport operator: NS, RET, GVB, Connexxion and HTM.

- One with TLS, for the card management and the central back office

- And the coordination contract, committing the consortium to coordinate the different

players, for the objectives of the interoperability of the OV-chipkaart. Since this

topic is particularly unusual in a ticketing system development, we will detail deeper

the concept in the next section.

Rather quickly the technical teams started the specification of the system and prepared some

pilot experimentation in order to check the validity of the specified concepts. We had to

progress quickly with TLS and start the operations of the central back office as soon as

possible. Once the central back office in operations, the other operators would be in the

position to connect to it and test their own back office.

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Fare Collection Management 7

The OV-chipkaart Story

OV-chipkaart for the train

The railway operator, NS, chose the Hoekse Lijn for the

pilot. This line goes from Rotterdam to the sea side as

shown in yellow beside. This line was not too crowded

during the duration of the pilot but enough for us to test the

full system and the equipment: ticket vending machines,

gates and validators. We ran the pilot until 2005, when NS

decided to implement on the other lines.

Two other lines followed, Flevolijn and Schipollijn, in red

besides and then, the full network. We had to install about

2000 validators on more than 250 stations in order to

prepare the “Go Live” in October 1st 2009. After about one

year operation, NS took the decision to stop the paper

ticket. In order to secure the business, 90% of the travelers

should check-in at least once during their trip. As a

consequence, NS decided to close 62 additional stations,

and awarded Thales for the procurement of 1400 automatic

gates.

OV-chipkaart for the bus

The bus operator Connexxion had a different approach for several reasons. On one hand,

installing equipment in a bus fleet has nothing to do with installing equipment in a train station.

Buses move all day, and the time left for installation and commissioning is rather short. On the

other hand, Connexxion wanted to take the opportunity of the OV-chipkaart to start a large

improvement plan on its buses. In addition to the ticketing, Connexxion wanted to introduce an

innovative bus architecture, having a single bus computer to host the different applications: the

ticketing and the fleet management system.

In a standard bus architecture, the two applications have their own computer and usually their

own driver interfaces. It leads to heavy operations where the driver has to log on two times

and follow two screens. Connexxion wanted a simplified bus architecture. Thus Thales installed

only one bus computer, hosting the two applications: the ticketing application which controls

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Fare Collection Management 8

The OV-chipkaart Story

the on-board validators and synchronizes with the back office at the depot station and the fleet

management application, from third party, controlling the bus route and timing. The

architecture concept is as shown below.

Since the technical challenge was important, the implementation has been in two phases.

During 2003 and 2004, Connexxion tested the ticketing application. Then, once validated, we

introduced the fleet management until the acceptance of the system in 2007.

OV-chipkaart for Thales

As shown in the two previous sections, the requirements from one operator to another operator

were particularly different. For example, Thales has not designed and provided a single system

for the Netherlands, but eight different back offices, each of them having their specificity and

own characteristics but compliant to the SDOA.

This has had an important industrial impact. The

first challenge was to find enough resources in

order to fulfill our commitments and meet the

deadlines. The core expertise, for instance the

fare engine, had been identified and a new

organization put in place to serve this objectives.

Another challenge was to set up a complete test

facility in Thales’ facilities in the city of Brétigny-

sur-orge, France (91).

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Fare Collection Management 9

The OV-chipkaart Story

Actually, the requirement in terms of system availability is very high, from 98% to 99.95%

depending on operators. Thus, we had to ensure that every use case and every piece of

software could be properly tested. For this, 1300 m2 were dedicated to test and integration

platforms. This huge amount of space dedicated to testing ticketing is unique and Thales is

proud to propose this to its customers. It has been and is still used for several purposes:

internal development and integration, automated testing, factory acceptance tests, integration

with third party applications, replication of in-situ use cases, etc.

The testing facility has been completed with a real bus line around our site in Brétigny-sur-

Orge. As mentioned earlier, it is very complex to test a bus system because the bus moves all

day. The installation of a new ticketing system shall not stop nor disturb the operations of the

bus operator and the mobility of the citizens. As a consequence, we decided to develop our own

bus line, with several stops around the buildings and a real depot system. All this connected to

the integration platform.

The truck, as shown above, can be configured with different bus architectures, Connexxion or

QBuzz and we could replicate use cases that were found in The Netherlands. It has been a

useful tool for the OV-chipkaart project and is now a powerful test device for our on-going

projects.

Implementing a ticketing system is a first step, but the story does not stop here. The OV-

chipkaart must be in operations for the next decade. Thales is fully aware of this and has not

only built a full solution for design, build, test a system, but also provides services for the full

life cycle of the system.

While the maintenance activities were started by Vialis as part of the EastWest consortium,

Thales wanted to offer an integrated solution to the transport operators. Thus, in 2010, Thales

took over the maintenance activities. Thales now features a 150+ staff for ticketing operators

in the Netherlands, providing their support to the daily operations of the OV-chipkaart.

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Fare Collection Management 10

The OV-chipkaart Story

Coordination Contract & SDOA The OV-chipkaart is unique. Any ticketing systems could pretend this. However, in the OV-

chipkaart case, it is the first time ever that the coordination of the different partners is

mandated to the industrial consortium. EastWest signed the Coordination Contract and thus

was responsible for coordinating the different operators, especially on interoperable aspects

and fare policy.

Coordination means also ensuring that the interoperability will not fail due to divergence of the

different players. Coordination means bringing enough support to anybody so that the different

operators can benefits of the mutual progress for a successful “Go Live” of the OV-chipkaart. In

addition, EastWest was responsible for writing the System Documentation Open Architecture

and mandated Thales to make it. This huge work has been performed in three major steps.

In 2004: Initialization & first version. Thales proposed a first draft to put in place the main

concepts and the associated vocabulary. Schematically, Thales defined the five levels of a

ticketing system as shown below.

Then, TLS selected the scope of interoperability. Schematically, these are the three main

interfaces for interoperability, the level 4 interface to the financial back office, the level 1/2

interface and the fare media layout. In more detail, we can list below the scope of the SDOA.

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Fare Collection Management 11

The OV-chipkaart Story

Out of the scope In the scope

Supervision and event General design of the ticketing system

Maintenance and diagnosis features L4 interface and L1/2 interface

Agent management Downstream parameters, action list

Man Machine interfaces Security mechanisms

Equipment housing Ticketing Use cases

On-board architecture ie communication

between the bus computer and the validator Fare media Layout

In 2005 and 2006, Thales and TLS performed amendments of the document following the pilot

experimentations and the roll out. In particular, the card layout & the description of the

interfaces were deeply detailed. All this process was concluded by the publication of the

document on the TLS web site.

Last, in 2007, Thales organized the handover

to TLS and together prepared the certification

process until 2009. A test company was

mandated to develop the testbench and

perform the certifications of the different

parts. The certification process is described

besides.

The general principles are simple. Thales

develops the ticketing system from the

reference document. The test company

develops the SDOA tester from the same

document and then performs the tests. If the

test fails, Thales fixes the issue and comes to

the test again. If the test is OK, the

equipment is certified.

However, the story has been a little more complicated. Since every operator had specific

requirements, Thales had to perform the tests on each piece of equipment, multiplied by the

number of operators. A huge number of certification steps have been performed.

On the other hand, the testbench was not finalized when we started the first round of

certification. Some identified issues could either be due to development problems in the system

but also in the SDOA tester. They could also be due to difference of interpretation of the

reference document SDOA 3.1. This situation occurred several times and led to the refinement

of the overall certification process.

Finally, all Thales equipment were certified in 2009, quickly followed by other vendors

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Fare Collection Management 12

The OV-chipkaart Story

Benefits & Further steps

The interoperable fare collection management developed by Thales brings

many benefits. Amongst others, we can highlight here those which were

proven in the field.

Metro and train operators in the Netherlands decided to close stations with

automated gates from Thales. Thanks to the contactless technology, life

cycle cost of such equipment can be better controlled. The immediate

effect is of course the reduction of the fraud and the security of the

transportation network. On the other hand, Thales new systems ensure

reliable transaction records, from the equipment on the field, through the

back offices, up to the central back office. From these records, the

revenue clearing and settlement down to the operators can be performed.

Less fraud and reliable revenue collection means secured business for the

operators.

Moving from the paper ticket to an electronic media gives a lot more

flexibility on the way to define and use the fare products. By introducing

automatic reload of the electronic purse while crossing a gate, or product

sales through a web server, passengers and operators get benefits.

Passengers avoid queuing at the station. It is less time wasted, more time

for his own travel. As a result, the ticketing becomes easy and the

transport attractive. Operators reduce the cash handling at the ticket

vending machines or the ticket office. This means a reduction of the

possible frauds and an improvement of their own productivity.

Thales, with its continuing leadership position maintained over the past

forty years, has built a comprehensive interoperability model in the SDOA.

In particular, the System Documentation Open Architecture has defined

the interoperability at the equipment level. One piece of equipment can be

replaced by another one if both are certified. For the last decade, a real

competitive market has appeared at the equipment level and transport

operators take now benefits of the best prices and the freedom of choice

for their vendor.

Secure and

reliable

revenue

collection

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Fare Collection Management 13

The OV-chipkaart Story

The question is now: how to get even more benefits of such fare

collection system? There is still some room for improvement. As a

first example, we can mention the introduction of new media as a

means for transport. It could be a media replacing the existing

smart card, like the contactless bank card. More likely, it will be a

NFC-enabled phone emulating the existing OV-chipkaart. With his

own phone, the passenger will not only be able to validate and

open the automatic gates, but also get information about the real

time traffic conditions, next arrival time, etc.

On the other hand, the operator can take benefits of the huge

amount of data already available in the system. Days after days,

transactions are recorded and stored. They carry precious

information about the passengers: how do they use the

transportation network? What are their behaviors while moving

from point A to point B? Data analytics by Thales combined with

simulation and optimization are amazing tools now available to

help operators and authorities. Extracting knowledge from hidden

data, here is the next challenge!

Extracting

Knowledge

from your

Data!

About Thales

Thales is a global technology leader for the defence & security and the aerospace & transport

markets. In 2011 the company generated revenues of €13 billion with 67,000 employees in 56

countries. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, with operations around the world

working with customers and local partners. www.thalesgroup.com

Within transportation activities, Thales has a large number of ticketing references and

especially the unique nationwide implementation in the Netherlands: the OV-chipkaart. Thales

has already won worldwide contracts, as in Auckland, Bangkok, Delhi, Denmark, France,

Mexico, Lisbon, South Africa and Taiwan.

More info about Revenue Collection Systems, please contact [email protected]