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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Smart Cards for Mass Transit Lines

Public Transportation on the Rise

Modern public mass transit moves millions of people from place to place, and comprises an immense network of trains, buses and people movers. This can be difficult to reconcile with the need to keep track of and ensure that all patrons have valid tickets, but modern systems such as smart cards and proximity RFID cards have provided effective alternatives to the old fashioned and inefficient ticket model. With the advent of effective and cheap high speed personalized printing services for smart cards and RFID enabled cards alike, mass transit is entering a new era.

The Benefits of Smart Cards

A primary bottleneck in the swift handling of the large number of customers who make use of public mass transit is processing the payment. Not only does fumbling for a cash payment slow down the commuter, it exposes them to the danger of being assaulted by criminals for their cash. Finally, cash payments result in mass transit operators having a large amount of currency at the end of the day, which increases the danger of robbery.

Encoded smart cards have thus become very popular among mass transit agencies. These cards allow the consumer to purchase his or her tickets online while at home or at a kiosk and then grant admittance to the mass transit provider with a simple swipe of a card, eliminating the mess, delay and danger involved with cash payments.

RFID Smart Cards

While smart cards have increased the efficiency of mass transit systems, cheap RFID-enabled cards promise a quantum leap in the effective management of mass transit customers. By eliminating the need to use a physical card reader, RFID cards can permit patrons to move onto the bus or train without any pause at all. Furthermore, by keeping real-time data about how many individuals are using a given line, RFID systems permit operators to effectively predict and respond to changes in usage patterns. This can be especially useful in avoiding transportation bottlenecks or other delays. An example of the advantages of such cards can be found in Hong Kong’s Octopus Cards, which are currently used for most public transport tolls.

Mass transit systems are uniquely suited to all forms of printed smart and RFID cards, and are at the forefront of further development of this uniquely effective system for managing large numbers of passengers. By making use of inexpensive printing systems, RFID and smart card technology can effectively replace cash payments, reduce delays in the system, and assist passengers in having a worry-free trip. It is likely that the use of smart cards will continue to spread as more mass transit agencies see the advantages inherent in such systems.

 Image by -Tripp- and licensed through Creative Commons. 

Steve Stoltz is a sales rep at CardPrinter.com, an online retailer that provides pre-printed and blank PVC cards and a full line of ID card printers and supplies. 

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