For metro applications, a matter that cannot be overlooked is passenger experience. RFID technology and smart cards can improve the overall metro experience, reducing the "entry barrier" so that people use public transportation more frequently.
RFID monitors safety inspection points such as fire points, flood control doors and so on. Train safety inventories such as first aid equipment, stretchers and fire extinguishers can potentially be checked via RFID, providing immediate visibility of the location of safety equipment in an emergency, said John Williams, Marketing Manager, CoreRFID.
Contactless smart cards are used successfully in the metros of London, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and Singapore. The mass transit market, specifically, comprises 15 to 20 percent of global contactless smart card revenues. The world smart card market, which includes both contact and contactless, was estimated to be over US$5 billion in 2008, said Michelle Foong, Industry Analyst, Smart Cards, Frost & Sullivan.
Improving Passenger Experience
The possibility to migrate to new platforms and form factors while easily using multiple applications on the card manages masses of people and helps transportation operators focus more on customer service, rather than ticket control. "Transport operators are frequently confronted with ticket fraud through low or nonexistent security mechanisms of their card and reader population," said Urs Lampe, VP of Product Marketing and New Business, Legic Identsystems. Ideally, integrated smart card systems are immune to fraud and offer form factors of cards, tokens, NFC phones and contactless credit cards. Soon, users will be able to download their tickets on their contactless credit cards or load them directly onto their SIM cards in their NFC phones, Lampe continued.
In Japan, Korea and Taiwan, smart cards are also used as a transit card as well as an e-purse within the city, at specific merchant outlets and vending machines. Commuter congestion is reduced, and card holders experience greater convenience (no need to fish for coins or notes). "At the end of the day, if you look at successful projects in Asia and Europe, one could say that in a public transport system that is well-used by the public, the implementation was worth it," Foong said.