Royal Philips Electronics announced that the world leading MIFARE contactless interface technology has been selected by ERG Group to establish a regional smart card-based mass transit fare collection and settlement system in Seattle, Washington. The fare system based on MIFARE chip technology will enhance the reliability, security, efficiency and convenience of public transportation covering seven of the greater Seattle, Washington transit systems in the Central Puget Sound region. The project is known as the Central Puget Sound Regional Fare Coordination (RFC) Project.
The Puget Sound area joins the expanding list of North American urban regions adopting contactless smart card technology to better coordinate and enhance transit services. The Seattle system covers both land- and ferry-based transportation applications, representing approximately 130 million passenger journeys per year. ERG anticipates that 400,000 smart cards will be initially issued for this regional system.
“We’re positioning ourselves to grow with this technology and see other service providers joining our system in the future,” said Joni Earl, Chief Executive Officer of Sound Transit and Chairperson of the Regional Project Joint Board. “As contactless smart cards become more widely used, there may be an opportunity for cardholders to pay for other services, such as parking, sundries or other municipal services. Eventually, the contactless microchip with the transit information may be made even more convenient by embedding it in watches, key chains or other easily carried items for the convenience of the user.”
The new project involves seven transit agencies in the Seattle area with the ERG Group acting as the overall system integrator. Through the close collaboration between Philips and ERG Group, ERG is using the advanced and proven MIFARE chip technology for the contactless smart card scheme in the Puget Sound. ERG has been successfully using cards based on this technology in many applications in Europe and Asia and is ready to implement similar fare systems in the North American market.
For this project the latest generation of cost-effective, secure, high speed technology for contactless smart cards and corresponding reader devices will be used, such as the MIFARE DESFire chip for standard transit cards and the ultra low cost MIFARE UltraLight chip for disposable cards. Fully in line with ISO 14443A, the standard for contactless smart cards, the MIFARE chip technology was first developed in early 1990’s and was one of the early, readily available and highly accepted contactless smart card and reader chips suitable for use in public transport.
“Regional fare collection is now becoming established in the US,” said Mike Nash, general manager of ERG’s American operations. “The tremendous value and benefits of region-wide smart card based fare collection have been proven around the world in systems developed by ERG. We’re gratified that forward-thinking transit officials are committed to bringing those same benefits to their regions.”
“Because of its cost efficiency and high-performance features, the MIFARE technology has once again been chosen to power a regional transportation fare collection system,” said Jan-Willem Reynaerts, general manager for transport and logistics at Philips Semiconductors. “Residents and visitors to the Seattle area will greatly benefit from increased efficiency and convenience in public transport, and Seattle will serve as an example to other parts of North America of the exciting possibilities that smart card technology can bring to the urban infrastructure.”
The disposable fare cards for use in the Seattle system are targeted at the card collector, tourism, and human service programs. The disposable cards will have specialized graphics and be pre-valued with a set amount of money (eg., $20), a set number of rides (e.g., 10), or a set period of time (e.g., 7 days after first use). The disposable fare card from ERG will be based on the MIFAREÃ UltraLight card platform, an application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) that has been specifically designed for low cost contactless cards in transit environments. The UltraLight chip-based card represents a new range of low cost contactless disposable cards and complies with the ISO 14443 A standard and operates on the same terminal as the MIFARE product portfolio such as MIFARE DESFire, MIFARE Classic and MIFARE dual interface ICs.
More information on MIFARE can be obtained from Philips at http://www.semiconductors.philips.com/markets/identification/ or by visiting www.mifare.net.
About ERG Group
The ERG Group is a world leader in the development and supply of integrated fare management and software systems for the transit industry, and for its smart card systems and services. The Group has installed systems in major cities throughout the world including Hong Kong, Melbourne, Rome, San Francisco and Singapore with installations in progress in Gothenburg, Seattle, Stockholm, Sydney and Washington DC. ERG has delivered systems that support more than 20 million smart cards in circulation and handle approximately 5 billion transactions per annum. ERG is an Australian-based company, listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and employs 800 people in 11 countries.
About Royal Philips Electronics
Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands is one of the world’s biggest electronics companies and Europe’s largest, with sales of EUR 31.8 billion in 2002. It is a global leader in color television sets, lighting, electric shavers, medical diagnostic imaging and patient monitoring, and one-chip TV products. Its 166,500 employees in more than 60 countries are active in the areas of lighting, consumer electronics, domestic appliances, semiconductors, and medical systems. Philips is quoted on the NYSE (symbol: PHG), Frankfurt, Amsterdam and other stock exchanges. News from Philips is located at www.semiconductors.philips.com.