Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for January 15th, 2008

Transport smartcard hacked – again

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It was the “again” that caught my attention. This is DutchNews reporting on trials of a new smart card that is supposed to replace existing tickets for all trains trams and buses across the country. The Dutch have had “strippenkarte” for long while which brings the sort of fare integration that Canadian cities only dream of. Twenty years ago Ontario tried to get a card that worked for GO and the TTC – and it is still not as easy to use as the Dutch system of paper tickets.

GO TTC Twin Pass

Smart cards have been talked about here for a long time, but our system is just too small to be able to afford the upfront investment, and nothing commercially available off the shelf could cope with our three zones, but only one off peak structure. Indeed, much discussion was having cards that would be read in and out to allow for fare by distance, which in a region this big actually makes a lot of sense if (and that’s a very big if indeed) the cost of short trips could be cut. And if stored value were used, the system can also be extended to other small purchases, reducing the need to carry coins and small bills.

But what this story shows is how the database of trip making is vulnerable. I suspect as well that as soon as electronic fare cards come into widespread use someone will devise a way to hack into the system to get free rides – or even money out.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 15, 2008 at 12:44 pm

Posted in Fare evasion, transit

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