Innovative e-fare System in Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan Area

When it comes to cutting-edge technology, Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) rises to the top as one of the most progressive agencies in the country. Perhaps that is why they chose INIT as their partner to supply and implement a modern, multi-media e-fare system in the Portland- Vancouver metropolitan area.

Integrated and innovative e-fare system in Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan Area

The Tri-County Metropolitan Transportation District of Oregon (TriMet) has a reputation for being a thought leader in innovative ideas for public transit. In 2005, TriMet was the first agency in the world to release data to the public for the development of third-party transit apps. This action prompted numerous other transit districts across the country to open their data to developers as well.

When the agency went out for bid for an advanced fleet management and real-time passenger information system in 2009, INIT’s Intermodal Transport Control System (ITCS) won out as the most modern and flexible solution.

After the success of that project, the agency marked another milestone by becoming the first in the US to implement mobile ticketing across bus and rail. The mobile ticketing launch was followed in 2014 by the contract with INIT for the implementation of an open payments and smart card e-fare system.

In 2017, the Hop FastpassTM e-fare system was successfully launched. A few short months afterwards, another milestone was announced. Through a partnership with Google, TriMet beta launched the first-ever virtual fare card.

The task

Implementing a state-of-the-art electronic fare system is challenging – even for innovators. The project required a solution that would seamlessly integrate with TriMet’s already existing ITS system and infrastructure, and have multi-client capability. This aspect was needed for integrating the Clark County Public Transportation Benefit Area (C-TRAN) and Portland Streetcar for a region-wide e-fare structure within the Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan Area. The most important requirement of the e-fare system project was the necessity for a comprehensive back-office system that could define individual agency parameters, while at the same time automate clearing of revenues and secure individual fare and revenue data. The TriMet-led e-fare project also required implementation of an open payments fare structure so passengers could use debit/credit cards and account-based smart cards.

The project had to be built using Open Application Programming Interfaces (API) for easy integration of third parties. This open architecture approach helped ease the task of connecting passengers with retail outlets to purchase their fare media and incorporated more than 12 third-party vendors for a fully robust e-fare solution.

TriMet chose INIT to implement the e-fare project because INIT is the only ITS provider that combines the complete range of ITS requirements into one fully integrated system.

“Our e-fare system will be simple, convenient and efficient – not just for our customers but for our operators as well. It streamlines operations while adding value for our customers through daily and monthly fare caps as well as loss protection benefits that come with an account-based system.”- Neil McFarlane, General Manager TriMet



The e-fare project includes various open APIs serving more than a dozen integration projects.

Hop Fastpass e-fare system

The scope of the TriMet e-fare project included the implementation of an open payment fare structure for the use of contactless credit and debit cards, account-based smart cards, and the “first ever” virtual transit fare card stored securely
within an Android smartphone.

TriMet chose an account-based system because of the flexibility and security it provides for the regional transit stakeholders and their riders. With account-based systems, the card is linked to a rider’s account where personal information and subsequent fare calculations are processed. If the card is lost or stolen, it can simply be blocked and reissued.

Account-based systems increase operational efficiencies by reducing the costs of cash handling, improving boarding times at stops and giving passengers more control over their own accounts.

INIT’s back-end processing system, MOBILEvario, serves as the core intelligence of the project. MOBILEvario processes all forms of payment for the multi-agency system including physical debit/credit cards or digital versions stored in Google Pay, Apple Pay and Samsung Pay. Also accepted are the physical Hop FastpassTM smart cards and the virtual transit card stored in Google Pay.

PROXmobil supports all forms of mobile payment including
smart cards, mobile tickets, bank cards and NFC phones.

When a rider taps their device to any of the 1,100 INIT PROXmobil validators, MOBILEvario calculates the fare, validates the transaction against the back office account, and displays the fare validation result to the rider in real-time. Since all transactions are performed against the back office, riders get accurate and up to date account information anytime and anyplace.

Since MOBILEvario is designed as a financial system, its main focus is to account for each and every transaction performed. The ease of interface to multiple off-the-shelf accounting software provides convenient integration into the existing accounting systems. This strong revenue package delivers sophisticated management of earned revenue, deferred revenue, revenue recognition, and revenue sharing. For the multi-agency, bi-state Hop Fastpass™ system, automated clearing of revenues are securely performed.

The Hop Fastpass™ system was designed following an open architecture approach. Due to this open design, more than a dozen partners associated with the project were integrated without changes to the core system. These partners included retail outlets, payment service providers, mobile and web applications, as well as third party suppliers.

For TriMet, better operational management is possible because of the structure. With the Hop system, TriMet instituted fare capping – a structure which automatically offers travelers the lowest possible fare for their journeys. Using the physical or virtual Hop card, as well as a bank or credit card, allows a rider to earn a day pass after paying for two trips in one day.

The TriMet Open Architecture System

Once a rider reaches the cost of a monthly pass using the Hop card, they ride free until the next month. The system offers seamless travel across three service providers and two states for a region-wide e-fare structure.

The conclusion

As TriMet continues to blaze new trails in public transit, the Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan Area will reap the advantages. Riders will benefit from more convenience and pricing equity, as well as the opportunity to easily use contactless bank and smart cards, and mobile phones to pay fares. The result is a smoother and more economically managed transit network, increased mobility and better transportation services. As a result of the new e-fare project, TriMet is now the first US-based customer to benefit from a fully integrated operations management, real-time passenger information and e-fare system from INIT.

For the full whitepaper, please download it here

About INIT

As a worldwide leading supplier of integrated planning, dispatching, telematics and ticketing systems for buses and trains, INIT has been assisting transport companies in making public transport more attractive, faster and more efficient for more than 30 years. Today, more than 600 customers rely on INIT´s innovative hard- and software solutions.

The unique selling proposition of INIT’s integrated telematics system MOBILE is that it comprises all of the daily tasks of public transport providers:

  • Planning & Dispatching
  • Ticketing & Fare Management
  • Operations Control & Real-Time Passenger Information
  • Analysing & Optimising

This creates a solution that covers the complete production process of public transport providing more efficiency and enhanced service quality.

INIT products are recognized for their state-of-the-art technology and may be deployed stand alone or integrated into an intelligent overall system tailor-made for the specific needs of the individual customer. Also a step-by-step extension of the system is possible.

Find out more here:

INIT is an exhibitor at Asia Pacific Rail 2019, taking place from 19-20 March 2019. They will be showcasing their latest technologies and innovations at Booth H05. 

Registration to the free expo is now open. Register for your free pass to visit them here

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