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BoB Sweden: National Ticketing System [free access]

August 1, 2017

Various countries in Europe, such as the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Denmark, have taken the multi-modal, multi-operator ticketing system a step further to develop nationwide fare collection systems. In Sweden, the implementation of Biljett och Betalprojektet (BoB) Ticket and Payment project was successfully completed in December 2016. The main goal of the project was to link the ticketing systems of different public transport authorities to provide an integrated solution for customers to purchase tickets in all public transport systems.


Box 1 provides a background of Sweden.


Box 1: Sweden


Sweden is the fifth-largest country in Europe, covering an area of around 450,295 square km. With a population of around 10 million, it has a low density of 22 inhabitants per square kilometre. Around 85 per cent of the country’s population lives in urban areas and its maximum concentration is in southern Sweden.


Sweden is one of the richest countries in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) per capita and the residents have a high standard of living.


Source: Global Mass Transit Research


Existing public transport system


Transportation in Sweden is carried out by car, bus, rail, light rail and trams. The rail network spans 11,663 km. There are currently six light-rail networks in the country. These are indicated in Table 1.


Table 1: Light rail networks in Sweden

City/ system name

Network length (km)


Gothenburg tram network



Norrköping tram network



Tvärbanan LRT line



Nockebybanan tram line



Lidingobanan LRT line



Djurgardslinjen tram line



Note: LRT – light-rail transit

Source: Global Mass Transit Research


The only operational metro rail system is the Stockholm Metro, known as the Stockholm Tunnelbana. The system comprises seven lines that together span 108 km and cover 100 stations (47 underground). Of the 100 stations, 82 are within the Stockholm municipality and the remaining 18 are in the neighbouring municipalities of Botkyrkavägen, Danderyd, Huddinge, Solna and Sundbyberg (all within Stockholm County).


Buses are also an important component of public transport in Sweden. Buses are operated by a few large bus operators.


Swebus Express AB, operational since 2009, is one of the largest long distance coach operators in the country. The buses mainly operate in Uppsala and Stockholm in the north; Norrkoping, Linkoping and Kalmar on the east coast; Malmo and Blekinge in the south and Helsingborg, Halmstad and Gothenburg on the west coast. Some bus lines extend to Oslo in Norway and Copenhagen in Denmark.


Flygbussarna provides bus services from eight airports to various cities in Sweden. FAC Flygbussarna Airport Coaches AB operates the buses between Stockholm and the airports at Arlanda, Bromma, Skavsta and Vasteras as well as Göteborg and the airports at Landvetter, Malmo and Visby.


BoB – National Ticket and Payment Standards


The BoB project has created a common arena in which government and industry players in the public transport sector collaborate on standards within and interface between different constituent parts of the ticket and payment system.


The open standards provide opportunities for both established and new players to access the market for delivering service and equipment.


From a technical point of view, the system has following benefits:



The system allows the following to public transport operators:





In general, the traditional large ticketing system is broken down into smaller system blocks. Each block has a clear functional task and a defined interface with adjoining blocks. This enables an authority to begin on a small scale and then expand to a full-fledged ticketing system.


Figure 1 describes the architecture, which consists of the following four key components:



Figure 1: BoB architecture






BOB components


Each BoB architecture component serves a particular purpose.





The ticket validity and the journey to be taken are expressed through a standardised ticketing language called TICKLE. The Validation Service evaluates the TICKLE expression through an interpreter which is given certain information from the environment. The additional information about the evaluation can be displayed to the driver or the on-board staff, including details of the ticket such as certain conditions for a reduced price (e.g., in case of senior citizen).


Electronic tickets


For the successful implementation of the BoB, machine readable electronic tickets are considered essential. A rider may present a travel document containing multiple tickets from different transport companies, which in turn will require a certain degree of harmonisation of technical interfaces and formats.




A major benefit of the BoB system is the integration of all modes of transport. It helps lower the operating cost of the ticketing system for transport operators/agencies and provides greater convenience to passengers.


An ID-based system can be easily widened for the launch of other related services such as parking.


The system allows ticket-free travel such that the traveller does not need to pre-empt specific tariffs, zones, coupon values and business rules of each carrier.


The operators save costs because they do not need to print, distribute and manage their fare cards. The economies of scale kick in as they become part of a larger nationwide system.


Key considerations during implementation


Samtrafiken is implementing the BoB project. The company manages specifications of standards and documentation, descriptions of API interfaces and architecture, metadata (such as key management and unique ID) and support functions.


The security of the machine-readable travel documents depends on strong cryptographic mechanisms which secure data integrity and provide data origin authentication. Maintaining the confidentiality of the private encryption keys is critical. However, the confidentiality of cryptographic keys can be compromised in a number different ways. For example, the key generation process may be flawed, resulting in weak keys; the keys may be exposed by human error or stolen by external or internal perpetrators; the keys may be calculated or compromised using cryptanalysis.




The BoB project has created standards and interfaces that are prerequisites for developing a nationwide ticketing system in Sweden. For the operators, a standardised and open system creates flexibility in choosing the vendor and enables secure validation of tickets. The national ticket system requires co-operation at many levels to achieve preconditions including national travel planner with purchase function, common method/standard for digital (mechanical) reading and checking of tickets, possibility to sell other operators' tickets, common standard for the safe identification of the right to travel, common standard regarding the interface between ticket and payment systems in order to achieve competition, minimum dependence on suppliers, a national billing and payment system architecture that enables collaboration with other service providers and requirements specification on card terminals such that it is possible to pay by card in connection with the trip.


Currently, the BoB fare structure is being implemented in a large part of southern Sweden. Next, it will be implemented in the northern and central parts of the country.