Stephen Rees's blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘electronic fare collection

In Chicago, a sophisticated new rail fare system that doesn’t work

with 2 comments

I was just going to tweet this story, but sometimes that limited number of characters just will not do.

The story can be found on Marketplace – not the CBC tv programme of the same name. This one is on National Public Radio.

The parallels to Translink’s Compass fare card are eerily similar. For start the contractor is the same one – Cubic. Marketplace also compares the system to Obamacare – where the web page to sign up for the new health care system was rushed into use long before it was ready for prime time. That seems to be the case in Chicago too.  And, as here, the union is worried about how its members get the brunt of the passengers – sorry customers – complaints.

Last week, the transit union head demanded that the CTA hold off on the transition, until the kinks got worked out. He said his members were already getting cussed out by enough angry riders.

Are there lessons to be learned here or is the process here too far advanced? What does seem to be different is the management of the issue. The CTA is apologizing – and it is not paying Cubic until the system is actually working properly. And the old system is staying in place until it does. Translink has acknowledged that the beta testing showed up some issues – and others – like the pay cash as well as buy a ticket “solution” for the lack of swipe reader on the gates problem – are simply ignored. The user is simply told to get with the program.

I think our real problem was that gates on SkyTrain/Canada Line/SeaBus were never actually necessary – but Translink staff have been eager to get away from 3 zones to pay by distance and added smart cards to what was already a seriously flawed concept. There are ways to introduce new fare media and systems that are both graceful and flexible. Chicago learned the hard way why those qualities should not be ignored. Will Translink learn the same lesson the same way?

One very odd feature about the story – the headline identifies Ventra as a “new rail fare system” but the story is illustrated by a picture of a bus.

Written by Stephen Rees

November 7, 2013 at 8:43 am

Portland’s new ticketing system

with 16 comments

I do hope that as a regular reader of this blog you follow Human Transit on twitter (@humantransit). If you do, you’ve already seen this. But I think this deserves a wider audience, and I especially hope that my followers at Translink read it. Not because of what it is, but how it was done.

Before you roll your eyes, I am not going to take the line that just because it is done somewhere else it is necessarily superior to what is done here. Nor is it something that we could now adopt. Unless there is someway a smartphone can communicate with a proximity reader. But it does seem to me from reading the following two blog posts that there is something happening in Portland that seems better suited to systems our size than the big system, Cubic engineered gates and readers we have imported.

The first article “Joseph Rose: GlobeSherpa’s TriMet Tickets app rescues riders from the machines” explains why TriMet were looking for a new system – and how the beta testers found the new app working. The second “TriMet’s highly anticipated Tickets app ready for download (a day early)” looks at its roll out.

I look forward to reading in the comments section below a comparison with the experience of the beta testers of Compass. And no, I do not know if the TriMet system would allow for conversion of or three zone fares to fare-by-distance at some later date, which does seem to be the USP for Translink.

And I found some pictures of TriMet light rail cars from a visit I made there in 1998 – when the technology available for web pictures was considerably less advanced

Lowflo~1pionee~2port2

Obviously it is well past time for me to go to Portland again, soon

UPDATE September 4

The Portland system official site

Compass/faregate introduction delayed or maybe not , but it is over budget.  And although Compass may not be available to everyone by then, FareSavers will still be gone by 1 January. All of this and more from Jeff Nagel in the Surrey Leader and other local press from the same stable

Written by Stephen Rees

September 3, 2013 at 3:39 pm