Open Standards – a Remedy to PTO and PTA Headaches

Open Standards – a Remedy to PTO and PTA Headaches

Philippe Martineau

President of the Board at OSPT Alliance

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Open Standards – a Remedy to PTO and PTA Headaches

11.12.2019 04:15 am

With the world’s smart transportation market predicted to reach USD 149.21 billion by 2023, it’s clear the industry is in a period of great change, with a bright future ahead. To date, however, the evolution of the market and innovation of services has happened in isolation and on a local level, rather than considering what can be achieved and how it can evolve on a global scale. As a result, the transportation market has trailed behind adjacent industries in delivering new services to consumers.


In a new era of connected mobility, there’s a real opportunity for public transit operators (PTOs) and public transport agencies (PTAs) to enhance their offerings and tap into new revenue streams, but the convergence of multiple players and industries poses major technical and strategic challenges. To remain successful, PTOs and PTAs need a new approach.


The Headaches of the Transportation Market

Today, PTOs and PTAs are beset by multiple pain points.


As services such as ticketing, loyalty and payments increasingly converge onto mobile, and innovative new form factors, applications and services emerge, the demands of today’s travellers are at an all-time high. Combined with the constraints of proprietary legacy systems, the basis of many transportation infrastructures, PTOs and PTAs are under pressure.


The following are key, competing challenges these stakeholders are juggling…


  • New technologies – how to develop future-proofed systems while incorporating new technologies that enable ‘anytime, anywhere’ access to services.
  • Consumer expectations – no longer can we think of public transport users as ‘travellers’ - today’s ‘digital consumers’ expect seamless, multi-modal transit tickets.
  • Managing budgetary requirements – defining a cost-effective approach to digital transformation.
  • Navigating vendor lock in – overcoming the challenges of single-vendor systems that restrict choice, impose high costs and dictate the pace of innovation.
  • Responding to risks and regulation – ensuring strong security in response to increased fraud risk and understanding the impact of regulation on areas such as data privacy.
  • Managing interoperability – responding to the requirement for interoperability across systems, cities and countries in an increasingly global world.


The Painkiller – Open Standards

Now, back to that new approach I mentioned earlier.

For decades, proprietary solutions have dominated transport ticketing. Highly customized, complex and expensive, these solutions often lack flexibility for any upgrade such as new fare policies, smartcard features, acceptance of other form factors or adding any new features to the system. Tied to single vendors, operators have also faced high costs and a speed of upgrade dictated by the supplier.

This cocktail of factors stifles innovation and limits commercial growth.

Open standards are a proven medicine for the resolution of fragmentation, preventing overlap of work, and facilitating better collaboration, innovation and technology advancement.

The benefits of open standards include:

  • Greater choice of suppliers and business models, allowing for increased flexibility.
  • Simplified expansion and upgrades of systems.
  • Opportunity to capitalize on a more open, competitive market and economy of scale.
  • Compatibility between suppliers, allowing a phased introduction of new technologies e.g. mobile devices and smartcards.
  • Protection of existing infrastructure, including liabilities and privacy patent protections.
  • Increased innovation and reactivity, with simplified integration of new, valuable services.
  • Safeguarded investment, with futureproof, interoperable systems.


Several industry players are already championing this move to openness, and OSPT Alliance is one such organization at the forefront.

CIPURSE™ – The Cure

CIPURSE™ is the cornerstone of industry association, OSPT Alliance and has rapidly become known as the open standard for transport ticketing. Built on industry-proven standards, it is fully form factor agnostic and supports media including contactless cards, mobile and wearables, whether using a secure element or host card emulation. Crucially, CIPURSE is independent from hardware and software providers, enabling PTOs and PTAs to escape the challenges of vendor lock-in.

Uniquely, it also has capacity to support multiple applications on one solution and has a whole host of pre-defined functionalities to choose from. In an age where industries are increasingly converging, this is invaluable.

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