West Yorkshire train services are to trial technology that enables passengers to use their smartphone as a ticket.
A small test group of West Yorkshire Combined Authority staff will be using smartphones as a replacement for their ticket starting in the autumn.
Near Field Communication (NFC) technology has been used to make this possible, in addition to Host Card Emulation (HCE) technology developed by Itso, both of which are combined to enable the device to emulate a physical contactless smartcard.
Services between Huddersfield and Leeds stations are being targeted for the trial and this route has been selected as both locations already have ticket gates that are able to accept the new ticketing process.
Purchasing and downloading tickets to their phone can be tested by staff, as well as using the phone for validation purposes at ticket barriers.
Councillor Keith Wakefield, chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, expressed enthusiasm for the launch of the pilot.
“Having been a leading player in the development of smartcard travel through our MCard scheme, I am delighted the Combined Authority is a partner in this exciting pilot,” he commented.
Work being undertaken by Transport for the North will be informed by the results of this pilot, as smart ticketing is already one of the main goals in boosting the economy of the north of England
Investment already made using the Itso technical specification will be built upon and emerging technologies taken into account.
Chief executive officer of Transport for the North David Brown said shared payment platforms such as those being trialled allow for smart ticketing across many devices. Given that this takes consumer preferences into account, he said it could be “key to a positive passenger travel experience” and that several other initiatives are also in place to move people closer to that vision.
General manager of Itso Steve Wakeland said this trial is a significant landmark in terms of the development of the technology to offer e-ticketing for trains on smartphones.
“It is no longer as challenging as it used to be to provide mobile ticketing alongside classical contactless smart cards,” he remarked.
Managing director of secure smart card software firm Rambus Ecebs Russell McCullagh emphasised the fact that demand for this kind of smartphone ticket is on the rise.
“As the demand for interoperable smart ticketing grows, so does the use of mobile to deliver new and exciting services. Rambus Ecebs are delighted to support Itso in delivering truly mobile and secure smart ticketing.”