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Changes in Automatic Fare Collection. by Aaron Berkovich for Prof. Kopec’s CIS-763 Spring “03. AUTOMATIC FARE COLLECTION. Changes noticed as soon as they come Used to be focused on single operators Currently focused to meet regional mobility. Brief history of fare control in New York City.

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changes in automatic fare collection
Changes in Automatic Fare Collection

by Aaron Berkovich for Prof. Kopec’s CIS-763

Spring “03

automatic fare collection


Changes noticed as soon as they come

Used to be focused on single operators

Currently focused to meet regional mobility

brief history of fare control in new york city
Brief history of fare control in New York City
  • Tickets & ticket choppers operated by guards at each station.
  • Turnstiles installed to prevent fare evasion by TA employees. First turnstiles accepted tickets
  • Coin turnstiles introduced in honor of 1939-40 World Fair
  • Tokens in use since MTA was formed in 1953
  • Coin-token turnstiles appeared in the 80’s, as the first attempt of AFC, but this project didn’t prove successful.
  • Modern turnstiles introduced in 1994. These turnstiles accept tokens and MetroCard.
  • High entrance-exit MetroCard only turnstiles replaced so-called “Iron Maidens”.
metrocard in new york city
MetroCard in New York City

1994 – Introduction of MetroCard at

selected subway stations and buses.

May 15, 1997 – MetroCard

is accepted all over the

NYC Transit system.

July 4, 1997 – Free bus-subway

and subway-bus transfers are introduced.

January 1, 1998 – Introduction of the one-fare bonus for each $15 spent on a card.

July 4, 1998 – Unlimited ride MetroCards are introduced.

metrocard vending machines
MetroCard vending machines
  • Offer all kinds of MetroCard transactions
  • Interacts with users via touch-sensitive screen
  • Larger machines accept cash, credit cards, ATM/debit cards; smaller machines don’t accept cash
  • Doesn’t sell tokens, but sells single-ride magnetic-stripe paper cards instead.
  • Allowed to reduce number of token-booth clerks
dealing with fare hikes
TOKEN: nice to passengers, headache to TA

In face of a coming fare hike, passengers could save money by purchasing tokens in advance, unless TA introduced new tokens as happened in 1995.

METROCARD: nice to TA, not as nice to passengers:

AFC system can be reprogrammed as soon as the new fare is effective. No reason to change cards. No way to save money by advanced purchase.

Dealing with fare hikes
history of fare control in moscow metro
History of fare control in Moscow Metro
  • 1935 thru 40’s: fare is paid with cardboard/paper tickets
  • 1942-43: first turnstiles, accepting coins, installed at some stations
  • 1958: token turnstiles installed at some stations
  • 1961: turnstiles reprogrammed from tokens to coins, due to monetary reform, and installed at all stations, as well as change machines
  • 1992: new metal tokens introduced in March, and changed to plastic tokens in November
  • 1993: two experimental turnstiles installed at one station to accept magnetic-stripe cards
  • 1996 – AFC system installed throughout the Metro
  • 1997 – first-generation magnetic-stripe tickets go out of use
  • 1998 – experimental use of contactless smart cards, as well as single- and double-ride magnetic-stripe tickets
  • 1999 – campaign against illegal magnetic-stripe cards; tokens go out of use
  • 2000 – introduction of new smart cards good for subway and commuter rail
  • 2002 – school passes completely changed from magnetic-stripe to smart cards.
magnetic stripe technology
Magnetic Stripe Technology

Used in Credit, Debit, ATM cards

Data are recorded to, read or erased from the magnetic stripe, similar to sound or video recording.

Stripe has particles; each particle is given a magnetic polarity

Data are recorded in tracks. The more tracks a stripe has, the more data it can store. ATM cards usually have three tracks.

Standards are established for materials from which a card or a stripe is made, stripe locations, track locations, and data encoding methods

smart card technology
Smart Card Technology

8-bit chip microprocessor embedded in a card

available for either or both contact or proximity (non-contact) reading

Card as active participant in “conversation”

1 kilobyte of RAM, 24 kilobytes of ROM, 16 kilobytes of programmable ROM, and an 8-bit microprocessor running at 5 MHz

Widely used in Europe, but not so much in America

magnetic stripe vs smart card advantages and limitations


Read/write capabilities

Relatively high data density

Security against casual counterfeiting

Reliability, and

Low cost-per-use


Contact reading

Initial cost per card

Potential magnetic damage to low coercivity stripes



Large memory allows to “personalize” each card for its user

Multi-application use is possible (though not so widespread in the U.S., but widely used this way by many European transit systems)



potential for physical damage

Magnetic Stripe vs. Smart Card: advantages and limitations
smartrip in washington dc
SmarTrip in Washington DC

First smart card AFC system in the U.S., started in 1999

Based on GO CARD® System, developed by Cubic Transportation Systems

Number of cards in use exceeded 100 in year 2000

used in place of a Metrorail paper farecard

earns a 10% bonus value when $20 or more is added using cash, credit or ATM card

maximum value of $180 (plus bonus) can be added onto a SmarTrip card

cta transit card vs chicago card
Magnetic stripe farecard, introduced in 1997

Completely replaced tokens by 1999

$1 bonus for each $10 spent

Unlimited-ride cards also available

Started in 2000 with Smart Card pilot program

Costs $5 even if has no money on it

A card can hold any amount from $0.05 to $100

Permanent store-value card, unlike the magnetic-stripe Transit Cards, which has expiration date

Chicago Card contains no magnetic material and therefore cannot be demagnetized

CTA: Transit Card vs. Chicago Card
leader in afc technology
Leader in AFC technology

Involved in mass transportation market since 1971

The only company still in business since those times: all its competitors came and left this business

Designs different kinds of AFC systems: magnetic stripe, smart card, automated ticketing

Designed AFC systems worldwide: New York, Chicago, Sydney, Singapore, and many others

UK/European operations are the largest part

another worldwide smart card developer
Another worldwide Smart Card developer
  • BERLIN: the first phase of smart card fare collection field trial was implemented in 1999. The previously existing Berlin transport system operated on a flat fare, paper-based ticketing system. The new system operates with a time- and distance-based fare structure where the smart card serves as a reusable ticket. Individuals can buy public transport "units" with cash or electronic transfer payments at distribution outlets or through stationary and mobile ticketing machines. These units are loaded directly onto their smart cards and can then be debited by special contactless check-in/check-out terminals at subway stations or aboard buses and trams.
  • NANJUNG, China: smart-card-based AFC system introduced in the city shortly after Berlin.
  • Another Chinese city that uses Motorola’s AFC product is Lanzhou
smart card in new york why not
Smart Card in New York? Why not?

In December ’01, Governor Pataki approved the first step toward the adoption of an integrated region-wide transit fare payment system. The new $51 million fare collection system, approved by the Board on Thursday, will ensure that the PATH system accepts both "smart cards" and MTA MetroCards. Using this technology, PATH riders, and eventually riders of other regional transit systems, will be able to deduct transit fare purchases against user accounts that can be linked to a credit card, as is done with E-Z Pass accounts. Riders who use both PATH and NYCTA subways and buses will also be able to use MetroCards in both systems, marking the first integration of MetroCards into other transit systems. The new smart card fare collection system, expected to be in place on PATH within two years, is designed to be accepted eventually on subway, bus and rail lines throughout the region.

  • NYS official website: press release about Gov. Pataki’s approval of the proposed fare collection system
  • “How staff works” website: article on smart cards
  • Cubic Transportation Systems
  • NYC subway resources
  • Motorola: press releases on Berlin and Lanzhou
  • Smart card evolution   Katherine M. Shelfer, J. Drew Procaccino
  • Metro.Ru:official web resource of Moscow Metro
  • Chicago Transit Authority
  • IDAT Consulting: overview of magnetic stripe and smart card