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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ID Card Printers and Public Transit

How an ID Card Printer can help streamline Public Transit operations.

Public transit systems do more than ferry passengers throughout the city on subways, trains and buses. They must also keep up with the fares of the passengers in the most efficient manner possible. Gone are the days of using tokens and cash for taking a bus trip. The most innovative transit systems have substituted identification cards for coins.

Unlike cash, ID cards and prepaid smart paper tickets do not require counting out individual tokens or returning change. Prepaid cards are swiped like credit cards, but they can only be used for the transit system. They save time for passengers by streamlining the payment stage of their ride and onto the transit vehicle – providing time savings for everyone on board.

Popular Transit Systems

Today, New York City's transit system uses prepaid cards or smart paper tickets exclusively. These cards were introduced in 1993, and 10 years later, they became the sole form of payment accepted. Kiosks let riders purchase new cards or add money to existing cards. The cards are then swiped at a turnstile, which deducts the fare and grants the user access to the subway system. Each transit card is tied to the fare the rider pays based on the user's age. Seniors, who ride at a discounted rate, have a photograph on their identification cards to prevent fraud.

English: Generic RF-Smartcard. Français : Une ...Image via Wikipedia

Other cities in the United States have also adopted public transit identification cards or prepaid smart paper tickets. These include large metropolitan areas such as Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, and Washington D.C. The card technology is not just used in the United States. Dozens of countries around the world make use of the cards for the transit systems in their cities.

At its core, an identification card printer makes this system possible. It allows for the production of long-lasting cards for use on transit systems. Most cards resemble credit cards that users swipe, but as technology evolves, this method is becoming passé for some transit systems.

The Future of Fare Payments

Radio frequency identification (RFID) or near field communication (NFC) allow for transit system cards to come near a reader without touching it. A card with this embedded technology is tapped or waved in front of a reader for the card information to be processed. These help speed passengers past the turnstiles or payment boxes to get on board faster.

Smart paper tickets combine the benefits of a cashless identification card with a lower printing cost, keeping this technology within the operating budget of many public transit systems. The paper tickets can be used once or many times, but they are not as durable or long lasting as plastic cards. This fare method is commonly used by public transit systems for general tickets that do not have an age restriction and do not require a photo identification card.

Paying with cash is quickly becoming a relic of the 20th century. Most people now rarely pay with cash or checks, relying instead on more elegant payment means such as credit cards or cell phone payments. The wide range of options for a cashless fare system should encourage any public transit system to make the conversion. Doing so will bring the fare system into the 21st century.

Steve Stoltz is a sales representative for CardPrinter.com, an online retailer that offers ID Card Printers at a price that can't be beat. We carry a full line of Fargo Printers along with other major brands.

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