Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

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Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby saulblum » Fri Dec 02, 2011 9:08 pm

Someone from the T replied to my Twitter question --

https://twitter.com/?iid=am-13427842721 ... 0853411840

we are working on cool mobile solutions for commuter rail. We just posted an RFI yesterday.


And here's the RFI --

http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/Busin ... 1-12-1.pdf
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Re: CharlieCard / Ticket discussion

Postby MBTA3247 » Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:19 am

saulblum wrote:And here's the RFI --

http://www.mbta.com/uploadedfiles/Busin ... 1-12-1.pdf

Interesting idea. However, currently such a system would only be useful for single- or multi-ride tickets that don't include other transit modes. For all other types of passes, they'd have to wait for near-field communication to become a standard feature on smartphones and update the faregates to support whatever system the cellular carriers end up adopting. Without that support, passengers or the T would still have to supply a physical pass to use other transit modes. Of course, by the time this gets rolled out, most current-generation smartphones probably will have NFC capabilities, so that's one half of that problem out of the way.

Another problem would involve counterfeit passes. With iOS, at least, it's very easy to take screenshots, so the current system of flashing a monthly pass at the conductor would be very vulnerable to screenshots of the current month's pass being distributed on the internet. The only solution to that which I can see is that each pass or ticket purchased by a mobile device would have to include a unique barcode which the conductor could scan with a handheld reader. Such readers would be synced to the main computer at North and South Stations at regular intervals, and if duplicate tickets or passes show up whoever put up the screenshot can be easily identified and fined or arrested (and monthly passes which have been duplicated can be cancelled by having a blacklist of such passes synced to the handheld readers).

It occurs to me that the cheapest way of doing the barcode readers might be to use iPod touches with a custom app installed.
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Commuter Rail Payment Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby sery2831 » Sat Dec 03, 2011 3:27 am

This topic is split from the Charlie Thread...

I can see it now, I have my pass on phone but I forgot to charge it.

Also I can't see how they can do passes, since there is not way for this to be accepted on Subway. It is an interesting idea for sure. But is this really the right time to try a new fare system?
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Re: Commuter Rail Payment Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby saulblum » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:45 am

sery2831 wrote:It is an interesting idea for sure. But is this really the right time to try a new fare system?


I don't think it is. Especially after seeing this reply, I remain skeptical that CharlieCard will be accepted on the commuter rail within the next few years, and that for the non-pass user, paying for the commuter rail will remain a separate experience from using the rest of the T.

I replied to the tweet --

@mbtaGM I found the RFI. Looks like this is only for commuter rail. Why not instead integrate CharlieCard so it can be used system-wide?
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Re: Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby Teamdriver » Sat Dec 03, 2011 11:34 am

I agree with the notion that the Charlie card will never extend to commuter rail service due to highly sophisticated computer world machinations. At its introduction, I bought one for the casual commuter rail trips I make , ( not every day commute to work ). That never happened. Now I have a TAP pass, which is physically a Charlie card with your picture on it and a printed expiration date. Also I don't have , need , or want a Smart phone. But even if I had one, to get the reduced commuter rail rate , the Smart phone application would somehow have to recognize my TAP card aka Charlie card anyway.So it seems to me maybe the Charlie card cant be escaped, and must still be factored into the equation of how do you get on the train by paying other than manually tendering a manually acquired ticket or cash.
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Re: Commuter Rail Payment Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby jamesinclair » Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:21 pm

sery2831 wrote:Also I can't see how they can do passes, since there is not way for this to be accepted on Subway. It is an interesting idea for sure. But is this really the right time to try a new fare system?


Its not a new fare system.

Charlie is simply a contactless card. Most new cell phones as of next year will come with the exact same technology of proximity sensor. It is trivial to program the ap and the MBTA gates to talk to each other.

Paper tickets are simply an image on paper. Cell phone tickets are simply an image on a screen.

It's really as trivial as modifying fare machines to accept $2 bills. Same fare collection system, "new" mode of transaction.

That is, it's trivial on the front end for the riders. The back end, with the security and such, is where the work is.
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Re: Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby sery2831 » Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:11 am

BART in San Fransisco has fare gates that will read a pass from a cell phone. So the technology is out there in use and could be adapted system wide.
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Re: Commuter Rail Payment Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby danib62 » Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:29 am

sery2831 wrote:
I can see it now, I have my pass on phone but I forgot to charge it.

How is this much different then the current "I bought my pass but it's in my other pair of pants' pocket"? You say tough luck and collect the fare. I use the starbucks app on my iphone to pay for my coffee at starbucks. If one day my phone is out of juice I can't walk in and expect to get a free latte.
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Re: Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby MBTA3247 » Mon Apr 16, 2012 5:21 pm

sery2831 wrote:There is a thread about the Smart Phone Payment system on here. It is not like the Starbucks App. It will be visual, we will not be carrying any sort of device to validate.

*headdesk* See my post above for the potential this has for massive fare evasion.
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Re: Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby sery2831 » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:45 am

Not sure how the monthly passes will work. But it was explained to me the single ride tickets will be time stamped.
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Re: Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby diburning » Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:55 am

Still a potential for fare evasion. Anyone can photoshop in a phony date/time
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Re: Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby wicked » Wed Apr 18, 2012 8:14 am

diburning wrote:Still a potential for fare evasion. Anyone can photoshop in a phony date/time


Which would require exactly matching up fonts (or making it close enough so a conductor wouldn't notice the difference), not always the easiest thing to do. Also, I assume this will be as part of some sort of app where the conductor could ask the user to replicate the screen and switch to other screens in the app. If that's the case you'd have to replicate an entire app, basically. Way too much effort for an $8 train ride.
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Re: Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby Matthew Mitchell » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:26 pm

Given what we're seeing in the SEPTA New Payment Technology project, I think you can assume that conductors will carry a hand-held device that will have real-time communication with the central computer. Pair it with a 2-D bar-code scanner and you can can validate a bar-coded ticket or pass and reject counterfeits or re-use pretty easily.
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Re: Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby sery2831 » Wed Apr 18, 2012 10:55 pm

This system will not have a validator according to the Conductors that met with the vendor for thoughts on the system.
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Re: Commuter Rail Tickets Via Smart Phone Discussion

Postby diburning » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:42 am

So it will be a visual inspection of the pass on the device?

I looked up the near field communication technology that BART is using. Turns out there's only one phone (in the US at least) that has this technology (Samsung Galaxy Nexus). It seems that different companies such as Google, Verizon, and third party companies are trying out the technology, but the use isn't widespread yet.
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