Technology that enables passengers to use their smartphone as a ticket will soon be on trial on trains in West Yorkshire.
Due to start in the autumn, the trial will see a small test group of West Yorkshire Combined Authority staff using smartphones as a replacement for their ticket. Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology developed by ITSO combined with NFC (Near Field Communication), enable the phone to emulate a physical contactless smartcard.
Train journeys between Huddersfield and Leeds stations are being targeted for the trial. This route has been chosen as both stations have ticket gates able to accept the new technology. Staff will be able to test purchasing and downloading tickets to their phone as well as using the phone for validation purposes at ticket barriers.
ITSO is a not-for-profit membership organisation that oversees the specifications designed to ensure public transport operators’ smart ticketing systems are compatible. Like all existing ITSO smart card solutions, the HCE phone technology will provide a strong security management system that guarantees the confidentiality of transaction data at all times.
Responding to the trial’s announcement, Cllr Keith Wakefield, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “Having been a leading player in the development of smartcard travel through our MCard scheme, I am delighted the Combined Authority is a partner in this exciting pilot.
“It has the potential to benefit customers across the north and further afield, and we believe that customers will welcome the opportunity to use their smartphone to purchase a ‘smart ticket’, safe in the in the knowledge that the transaction is secure.”
The pilot project trialling ITSO HCE will inform work being undertaken by Transport for the North, which has smart ticketing as one of its main goals in achieving its vision to boost the North of England’s economy. It will build upon the investment already made using the ITSO technical specification, as well as take account of the emerging technologies.
David Brown, Transport for the North’s Chief Executive, said, “Shared payment platforms that allow truly smart ticketing across a number of devices, taking into account user preferences, are key to a positive passenger travel experience. This trial is one of a number of initiatives moving us closer to that vision.”
Steve Wakeland, ITSO’s General Manager said: “The delivery of the Transport for the North trial is a significant landmark in the development of HCE with ITSO on smartphones. We have been working very closely with our members and suppliers on the solution for the trial, and through their knowledge and expertise we have been able to identify various technologies and approaches relating to HCE.”
“We will continue to explore these different options, with the objective of identifying viable solutions for broader adoption and rollout by our members” Steve concludes. “We want to give our members the confidence to enter into this new market. What is clear is that we have identified a number of solutions that meet the high security standards placed on ITSO schemes which means that it is no longer as challenging as it used to be to provide mobile ticketing alongside classical contactless smart cards.”
ITSO is working with smart technology suppliers Rambus Ecebs and Penrillian to support West Yorkshire Combined Authority in delivering the project. The technology behind the mobile app was developed by Rambus Ecebs and the app, developed by Penrillian. HCE and the app enable the mobile device to acts as “host” for the ticket and NFC means it can communicate with card reader and ticket barriers, in the same way as a smartcard.
Rambus Ecebs Managing Director, Russell McCullagh said: “As the demand for interoperable smart ticketing grows, so does the use of mobile to deliver new and exciting services. Rambus Ecebs are delighted to support ITSO in delivering truly mobile and secure smart ticketing.”
Penrillian CEO Joanne Thompson said: “An Oyster-like card may be a convenient way of travelling but that bit of plastic is a cost to both the traveller and transport operator and those cards can be easily misplaced. The aim of this trial is to go beyond travel cards and turn the mobile phone into the ITSO ticket itself, making it even more convenient to use public transport.”
West Yorkshire Combined Authority's MCard smartcards are now making using West Yorkshire’s buses and trains simpler and more affordable for more than 100,000 cardholders. Over 1.1 million smartcard transactions take place each week on West Yorkshire’s buses and trains.
Launched in 2014, MCard offers a range of travel smartcards for people using bus and train services across West Yorkshire. To ensure people across the county have easy, local access to MCards and the smart tickets and passes available, they are available from 700 Payzone stores distributed in communities throughout West Yorkshire as well as at Bus Station Travel centres and increasingly online.