The winning ticket
Cubic Transportation Systems is a leading turnkey solution provider of automated fare collection systems for public transport
Last time Railway Strategies spoke to Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS) at the end of 2006, the company’s big success story was the Oyster smart card transit fare collection system. At that time there were more than ten million Oyster cards sold and the solution was being extremely well received in the UK.
Steve Shewmaker, European managing director for Cubic Transportation Systems Limited comments: “The Oyster card is such an overwhelming success in London – in fact it is the poster child for success stories around the world. For example, a number of articles have appeared in Sydney, Australia, which talk about the Oyster card in London and how they are hoping to achieve the same level of success. Today, this solution is the largest scheme in the world, with over 17 million cards now in use.”
CTS is the world’s leading turnkey solution provider of automated fare collection systems for public transport, including bus, rapid transit, light rail, commuter rail, heavy rail, ferry and parking. CTS’ solutions and services include system design, central computer systems, equipment design and manufacturing, device-level software, integration, testing, installation, warranty, maintenance, computer hosting services, call centre services, card management and distribution services. Every year, nearly ten billion journeys are taken worldwide using CTS fare collection systems. Furthermore, the company has delivered over 400 projects in 40 major markets on five continents.
Looking at the Oyster card, Steve continues: “We are currently working with Transport for London (TfL) and the Department for Transport (DfT) to expand the Oyster solution to the 250 stations served by the train operating companies who operate services into London and which are within the TfL area. We hope to achieve this by May 2009.”
In addition to the Oyster card, CTS is also working with the TfL and DfT to allow new ITSO cards to be read and accepted in London. ITSO was formed to build and maintain a specification for secure ‘end to end’ inter-operable ticketing transactions, utilising relevant ISO and emerging CEN standards. Steve explains:“ITSO is the UK national standard for smartcards. It came about after we signed the contract for the PRESTIGE Oyster ticketing system. Now, there is a movement to have ITSO cards coexist with Oyster products in TfL, and we are working together to make that happen. We will also be providing ITSO smartcard capability to South West Trains coming into installing at Waterloo station. Therefore, we are very supportive of ITSO and we are supporting that everywhere we go.”
CTS is also working with the UK government to try and extend the specifications outlined in ITSO. Martin Howell, public affairs director for the business comments: “A nationally integrated smartcard scheme is an attainable goal and one that we really support. The way it works at the moment is that the DfT has set out a standard for smartcard requirements through the ITSO specification. Companies and authorities wanting to implement a scheme need to operate within this specification. Our view is that these specifications now need to be extended to include business processes as well. Adhering to the specifications is the first and probably easier part – other factors, such as making sure customers’ problems are resolved quickly and guaranteeing that the systems are all able to talk to each other, is the harder part. We now want the government to take this step forward and create the conditions for a truly integrated scheme, which ensures all smartcard solutions are operating to the same high standards.”
In addition to its work with the Oyster card and ITSO, CTS has undertaken a significant project for Heathrow Terminal 5. The company has developed technology to enable passengers, for the first time, to use one ticket issuing facility for travel by their chosen route from Heathrow to anywhere within the London region. This new fare system integration for Heathrow Express and London Underground has been operational in Heathrow Airport’s new Terminal 5 train station since March 27 2008.
“We have a strong relationship with Heathrow Express and Terminal 5, and our work for this project was to install all the equipment necessary to treat it as just another train station. We finished this project ahead of schedule and we received some great feedback from our clients. “Until now, there has been one ticketing system for Heathrow Express and another system for the London Underground. This made it very confusing for passengers who were arriving in London for their first visit. Merging the two makes it faster and easier for air travellers to purchase their tickets for transport to and from London. Cubic’s system is at the very heart of this capability,” Steve comments.
Having installed ticketing systems for a number of airports around the world, including in Hong Kong, San Francisco, Chicago and Sydney, CTS is very familiar with the specialised requirements needed to provide the best solution. At Terminal 5, the attended Heathrow Express ticket office is capable of serving customers requiring tickets for either rail company from one ticketing system, making it easier for travellers new to London to decide how they wish to travel into the heart of the capital. Equally, for the experienced traveller, the unattended machines are co-located, allowing passengers to make rapid purchases to meet their needs. Finally, for those using Oyster pay-as-you-go, London Underground customers can go straight to the platform, or purchase non-standard tickets using their card from the ticket office or unattended machine.
CTS’ Terminal 5 work began in 2005 when BAA awarded a £3.3 million contract to develop the Terminal 5 solution. The company achieved a major milestone last year when it delivered all of the system hardware on time: 15 automatic ticket vending machines, seven ticket office machines, and six wide-aisle gates. The ticket vending machines are a new designmeeting the latest public-use requirements. The ticket office machines build on CTS’ award-winning FasTIS product deployed widely in the UK to train operating companies. Heathrow Express has chosen to upgrade all its other ticket vending machines and ticket office machines to the Terminal 5 standard.
Currently, for CTS, the rail industry is presenting a number of different opportunities for the company to expand.Steve comments: “At the moment we are the middle of a fuel crisis, both in Europe and in the US. Although this is a challenging time for most people, it provides great opportunities for CTS. In a situation like this, people start to take public transport for the first time and our role in this industry is to ensure that we retain those passengers even after fuel prices stabilise. We can do this by offering them agood service and product, and providing them with easier ways to pay for their fares. Therefore, we believe in the shortterm there is huge growth potential in the mass transit market. In addition, new initiatives for congestion charging schemes
in some of the larger cities are also increasing the number of people using mass transport – this again results in extra business for us.”
To try and improve services, for both new and old customers using public transport, CTS is continuously looking at new technologies, which can ease passengers’ travel experience. Steve continues: “One new development we are currently looking at is using your mobile phone as your ticket. We are currently running projects in the UK and in the US to test this equipment, and in fact in San Francisco you can actually use your mobile to go into a well-known hamburger restaurant and buy a meal. We are also looking at using bankcards to pay for travel instead of purpose-built mass transit cards, such as Oyster. There are currently lots of developments happening and these will all have a significant impact on the rail industry.”
In addition to product growth opportunities, CTS has plans to venture into new markets within Europe. The UK has been, and continues to be, an extremely important market for the business, however, the company is now looking to move into new areas, such as Germany. “We believe that the best way to penetrate this market will to undertake a couple of strategic acquisitions – we are currently preparing a shortlist for this and hopefully we will have something to report this time next year,” Steve comments.
Looking to the future, he concludes: “The main aim for CTS over the next few years is to expand into mainland Europe. There are also plenty of opportunities in Australia – we will be pursuing these from the UK. Another market, which has great potential for us, is security. There is a natural link between mass ticketing systems and security for mass transit, therefore we have undertaken some tests in the US, which have proved that travelling can be made safer just by utilising the ticketing system. We will be looking at all of these areas to try and improve the overall travelling experience.”