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Transit Ticketing & Fare Collection in MENA: Insights from Dubai conference in December 2019 [free access]

January 1, 2020

Global Mass Transit Research organised its first annual conference on ‘Transit Ticketing & Fare Collection in MENA 2019’ on December 11–12, 2019, in Dubai. Transit authorities, operators, technology providers, AFC (automatic fare collection) suppliers, and consultants attended the conference. The conference was supported by SC Soft and Thales. Nav Wireless Technologies and Arnab Mobility participated in the conference as part of the start-up showcase segment. The conference had a diverse group of speakers representing transit agencies, operators, service providers, technology providers, and vendors.


The key takeaways from the conference are discussed below.



Figure 1: Investments in AFC systems globally by 2030

Source: KPMG and Global Mass Transit Research





Further, fare structures and policies in the region are influenced by several factors, such as regulatory restrictions, cybersecurity considerations, and lack of integration amongst modes of transport, leading to increasing operational costs, private vehicle ownership, etc.



Dheeraj Bhardwaj from Arnab Mobility spoke about the end-to-end solutions being offered by companies in developing integrated public transport system, as shown in Figure 2.


Figure 2: End-to-end solutions


Source: Arnab Mobility


Adrian Knight from Serco, UAE spoke about the plans to deploy new fare gates with 3D imaging cameras for fare payments. The ticket vending machines (TVMs) on the network will be able to dispense the NOL card.



Hany El-sisi from Cairo Metro, Egypt spoke about the Egyptian National Railways (ENR) and the Ministry of Transport’s efforts to implement a new integrated fare collection system by deploying contactless smartcards and QR code-based mobile ticketing, beginning from 2020. The authority aims to integrate the currently operational metrorail system, Cairo Transportation Authority (CTA) buses, tramways, ENR commuter trains, and the parking system in the country. A central back office (CBO) is planned to be developed, which will allow any authority and vendor in the future to integrate transit fares by conforming to interface specifications.




Sanjeev Innanji from Paycraft Solutions discussed the various benefits to passengers (discounted fares, single-card ecosystem, secure and convenient), transit authorities (increase in revenue through elimination of leakages and reduction of fraudulent practices, increased efficiency, reduction of recurring cost, etc.), and financial institutions (FIs) (significant customer acquisition, enhanced usage, improved digital transactions, etc.) afforded by the deployment of open-loop ticketing. It also helps agencies achieve multi-operator and multi-mode integration.


Outside the region, some of the successful open-loop deployments aimed at enabling integration and interoperability have been in public transit systems in cities in India, such as Noida and Nagpur, stated Babak Ghaffari from SC Soft, the company that has successfully deployed the AFC system in the two cities. Kochi, another city in India, has deployed bank cards to pay fares for transit on its metrorail system. D. K. Sinha from Kochi Metro Rail Limited (KMRL), India also stated that the Kerala MTA Bill, which was passed by the state assembly in November 2019 seeks to ensure single ticketing, a single network, a single timetable, and a single command and control centre in the state’s public transit system.


François Baylot from Thales stated that with the deployment of ABT, transit authorities can minimise the scale of card migration, prioritise customer satisfaction, and create an open and exclusive system. ABT has tremendous potential in the future, as depicted in Figure 3.


Figure 3: Potential of ABT in future

Source: Thales




Figure 4: Fare integration using MaaS


Source: Siemens


Ahmed Hafez from Via Transportation emphasised the importance for the MaaS alliance of enabling commuters to travel from one place to another in the most efficient way, providing insights on the commuting habits of commuters, and allowing authorities and operators to manage their demand and supply needs by reducing congestion.




The conference offered a platform for discussing the current trends in transit ticketing and future deployments of ABT in the MENA region. Private players showcased their current deployments of ABT and new technologies, and transit authorities and operators elaborated on their AFC deployment plans in the future.


Integration and interoperability was one of the key focus areas of the conference. Advancements in transit ticketing, deployment of open-loop ticketing, ABT, and MaaS are expected to offer numerous opportunities for technology suppliers to make public transport more accessible for their passengers.