Cell phones as train and bus tickets

Monday, 07 May, 2007

Deutsche Bahn and Vodafone are working together on the development of an electronic ticketing system called "Touch&Travel' that is expected to be market ready within the next few years.

This ticketing system will make it possible for passengers to board a train or bus without first purchasing a paper ticket from a dispenser or the driver. Instead, they will simply need to push a button on their mobile phone once prior to departure and then again when they reach their destination.

It is scheduled to undergo preliminary field testing this year on the high-speed track between Berlin and Hanover, in a section of the Berlin metropolitan railway (S-Bahn), and throughout the Potsdam city transit network.

After successful completion of the tests, a nationwide rollout will follow.

The e-ticketing system makes use of a new mobile communication technology that will be introduced on the market in the near future. Known as near field communication (NFC), it enables contactless data transmission across ranges of just a few centimetres.

Forthcoming generations of mobile handsets will come equipped with the technology as a standard feature.

With the introduction of Touch&Travel, special terminals referred to as "touchpoints' will be installed on all train platforms and at all bus stops.

At these terminals, a passenger logs on to the system by pressing a button on his cell phone and logs off once he has reached his destination. The distance travelled and the price of the ticket are calculated, and the registered passenger receives a monthly bill.

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