Out with credit-card sized stock and in with mobile ticketing - is it too early?

Bletchleyite

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I never think hardcoding values is a good idea myself. When I studied databases on my Geographic Information System Msc, we were taught not to hardcode values.
In my experience the IT industry is actually a lot more pragmatic than academia - in particular you don't put anything like the effort into database normalisation as they'd want to see on your final year project! :)

The problem is where testing is cut and things like this get missed.
 
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infobleep

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In my experience the IT industry is actually a lot more pragmatic than academia - in particular you don't put anything like the effort into database normalisation as they'd want to see on your final year project! :)

The problem is where testing is cut and things like this get missed.
I went a bit to far with the normisation on my dissertation (final project)! I did learn from that though. This won't mean anything to those who haven't learnt about Raymond Boyce and Edgar Codd's normalisation theories!

Now days I don't use database normalisation because the software I use most, ArcGIS Pro, doesn't really support it. However I would use it if I could and I think all databases should, unless something better exists. I wonder if the backend ticketing databases use normalisation?

I was once generating data for a new system being built. It managed to go live with duplicate ID numbers because there was no checking for duplicate data during the data load. I was told it was standard industry practice to only disallow duplicates at the user interface level! Bit late by then!

All one needs to do is tell the database not to allow duplicates. It's a no brainer. Stops mistakes. I taught myself this whilst studying, after I made a mistake whilst learning something new and wipied a load of data without meaning to.

I'd like to think the databases used by the various rail industry software took this approach but it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't!

Going back on topic more, I ordered my first TOC smart card recently. South Western Railway one. I thought it would be a good way to avoid using the ticket machines. Alas no because you can't load eTickets on to it.

Loading an eTicket onto a ITSO would be useful if ones phone died. Perhaps the issue is what happens if you buy the ticket on the day. However you can buy season tickets online and load them on, so they must have figured something out.
 

Wallsendmag

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I see that's still "face down" - as an end user I find "face up" readers easier to use as you can see what's on the screen to line it up. Also it appears to still be laser based, camera based readers with a screen showing what's being read makes it easier to line up.
The experience so far is place it anywhere near the screen and the gates will open, significantly better than the previous incarnation.
 

Bletchleyite

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The experience so far is place it anywhere near the screen and the gates will open, significantly better than the previous incarnation.
That's a definite improvement. The ones on the LNR gates at Bletchley don't work more often than they do, and a lot of people have given up bothering and just go to the person, who of course being a contract security guard[1] in LNR uniform outside of busy hours (they are actually rail staff when it's busy) can't verify it as effectively as the barrier can, and so will let you through if you show them anything that approximates to a ticket.

I think part of the issue is that the older designs (mostly laser based) were designed for reading from paper, like supermarket scanners, and many of those have trouble with non-reflective screens such as OLED because that's just not how they work. The older generation of supermarket self scan tills are the same - the older Tesco ones won't read a Clubcard off a phone screen, for instance, and looking elsewhere it's part of the reason[2] Parkrun insist on a printed barcode as their old style scanners also have trouble with some phone screens.

It also doesn't help that many of the older ones are placed awkwardly low down, which is unnecessary in this context as a wheelchair user would use the wide gate so only that needs a low-down one, ideally in addition to one at normal adult height.

[1] I won't use the term "rentathug" here, as while they aren't skilled, the ones you get here seem to be very pleasant with none of the aggression you get with e.g. the Carlisle Security ones at Manchester Piccadilly. Probably it's because while the station is now urban it has the feel of a rural wayside halt with almost no antisocial behaviour to be bothered about (and precious little fare dodging), so they're mostly being paid to fiddle with their phone at quiet times.

[2] The other part of the reason, in case anyone wondered (it's a bit OT but I don't see as there's anything further to discuss on it) is that with paper barcodes if someone keels over on the course (as sadly happens quite often given the accessibility of the event) they can check their pocket for a barcode, scan it and find out their emergency contact information - a phone would likely be locked so they'd be less able to do that.
 
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py_megapixel

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The main problem we have is that there are basically two gate suppliers in Rail and we don't have the more popular supplier so have to fund most of the development ourselves.
They may be less popular but I find the S&B gates far preferable to the Cubic ones as a passenger. They feel like they are just more refined and better built, their displays are clearer and easier to use, and they don't reject valid tickets as often.
 

Haywain

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Going back on topic more, I ordered my first TOC smart card recently. South Western Railway one. I thought it would be a good way to avoid using the ticket machines. Alas no because you can't load eTickets on to it.

Loading an eTicket onto a ITSO would be useful if ones phone died. Perhaps the issue is what happens if you buy the ticket on the day. However you can buy season tickets online and load them on, so they must have figured something out.
Whatever gave you the idea that you might be able to load a (barcode) e-Ticket on to an ITSO card? They are in no way similar.
 

Wallsendmag

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Going back on topic more, I ordered my first TOC smart card recently. South Western Railway one. I thought it would be a good way to avoid using the ticket machines. Alas no because you can't load eTickets on to it.

Loading an eTicket onto a ITSO would be useful if ones phone died. Perhaps the issue is what happens if you buy the ticket on the day. However you can buy season tickets online and load them on, so they must have figured something out.
Thats like saying I bought a Samsung phone and tried to load iOS onto it. You are correct though if you buy a Smartcard ticket you don't need to go to TVM . You can collect it simply by tapping the smartcard on the gateline at your nominated station.
 

infobleep

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Whatever gave you the idea that you might be able to load a (barcode) e-Ticket on to an ITSO card? They are in no way similar.
The fact when I purchase bus tickets on Brighton & Hove buses, I can load tickets on to the card.

So I assumed it's just a ticket, why wouldn't it be possible to buy a ticket online and load it onto the card.
 

infobleep

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Thats like saying I bought a Samsung phone and tried to load iOS onto it. You are correct though if you buy a Smartcard ticket you don't need to go to TVM . You can collect it simply by tapping the smartcard on the gateline at your nominated station.
Ignore what I siad. I must have misread something on SWRs Web Site.

You can buy online and load the tickets. Shame I can't buy from Train Split and load onto my smart card. That would be great
 

NorthernSpirit

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I wonder what fate will befall the various rover and ranger tickets that exist with this new system?
If the orange card is replaced, lets hope that I'll be able to purchase a Bristol Freedom Travelpass or a West Yorkshire DayRover / Saver / whatever its called these days as an A4 PDF with QR (Quick Response) code or made available on a smartcard - I prefer a printout but I'll use a smartcard if I have to, as I'll never use a smartphone.
 

Mainline421

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The fact when I purchase bus tickets on Brighton & Hove buses, I can load tickets on to the card.

So I assumed it's just a ticket, why wouldn't it be possible to buy a ticket online and load it onto the card.
You can do this via the Chiltern app by selecting smartcard when you purchase your tickets - much better than an "e-ticket." On the off chance you don't use a railcard you may also want to check out Tap2Go for journeys on SWR. That way you can just use your smart card like Oyster across the SWR network.
 

Wallsendmag

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You can do this via the Chiltern app by selecting smartcard when you purchase your tickets - much better than an "e-ticket." On the off chance you don't use a railcard you may also want to check out Tap2Go for journeys on SWR. That way you can just use your smart card like Oyster across the SWR network.
Horses for courses, how do you read your reservation on a smartcard?
 

mikeg

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Yet another reason to take e-tickets as .pdf files, rather than on an app: Just bought an e-ticket for Sunday including travel on LNER with reservation, from the TPE app... It now has disappeared and whenever I try to refresh says it's having technical problems. Thank goodness wasn't an m-ticket and that they now send you the .pdf s.
 

_toommm_

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Yet another reason to take e-tickets as .pdf files, rather than on an app: Just bought an e-ticket for Sunday including travel on LNER with reservation, from the TPE app... It now has disappeared and whenever I try to refresh says it's having technical problems. Thank goodness wasn't an m-ticket and that they now send you the .pdf s.
I had that issue for a while. It took a couple of reinstalls plus a new phone to solve it. It’s why I was so fervently against it for a while
 

PeterC

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I went a bit to far with the normisation on my dissertation (final project)! I did learn from that though. This won't mean anything to those who haven't learnt about Raymond Boyce and Edgar Codd's normalisation theories!

Now days I don't use database normalisation because the software I use most, ArcGIS Pro, doesn't really support it. However I would use it if I could and I think all databases should, unless something better exists. I wonder if the backend ticketing databases use normalisation?

I was once generating data for a new system being built. It managed to go live with duplicate ID numbers because there was no checking for duplicate data during the data load. I was told it was standard industry practice to only disallow duplicates at the user interface level! Bit late by then!

All one needs to do is tell the database not to allow duplicates. It's a no brainer. Stops mistakes. I taught myself this whilst studying, after I made a mistake whilst learning something new and wipied a load of data without meaning to.

I'd like to think the databases used by the various rail industry software took this approach but it wouldn't surprise me if they didn't!

Going back on topic more, I ordered my first TOC smart card recently. South Western Railway one. I thought it would be a good way to avoid using the ticket machines. Alas no because you can't load eTickets on to it.

Loading an eTicket onto a ITSO would be useful if ones phone died. Perhaps the issue is what happens if you buy the ticket on the day. However you can buy season tickets online and load them on, so they must have figured something out.
Every time a new IT platform comes in all the platform independent best practice learned previously is thrown out as part of the redundant system. I have seen it repeated over several different replatformings.

You can't go too far with normalisation, you can decide to backtrack for implementation but then you know what compromises you are making. (Sorry I used to train analysts and database designers for a major blue chip company before they outsourced their IT)
 

Inthewest

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Mod Note: Posts #230 - #245 originally in this thread.

Second - the usualy paper tickets garbage, eliminating these completeley will make srailways less accessible as people will need either a) a smartcard (with accociated aditional cost to obtain and replace), b) a smartphone - I know a few people who have been unable to get a 26-30 railcard due to not having a smartphone, or c) a contactless card which again there are certain people who don't have one.
And they will miss out.

There's plenty of things that have changed in the past that have helped us progress, yet have made people miss out unless they took mitigation action.

For example the turning off of analogue TV. Either get a digital box, digital TV or miss out. The same will happen with FM radio.

Smartphones can be got cheaply.
If you don't want to get one through fear, the answer is to investigate that fear rather than force an old system to continue just so you don't have to evolve your way of life. That's like asking petrol stations to continue stocking 4* petrol...

Smartcards are free to obtain.
Possibly a cost to replace but no doubt it'll be the same or less than if you lost your paper season ticket... in this ever increasingly digital world.

Same with contactless cards.
If lots and lots of people were having their card skimmed, you'd hear about it a lot more. That is scaremongering at its best.
Plus, with banking apps now encorporating ways to turn the card on and off, you can do that if you wish.
For me, the messing about far outweighs the benefits - especially as banks are actually pretty good at refunding fraud cases and most wallets come with built in protection anyway. So really, there's no excuse not to have a contactless card.
 

Inthewest

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He started on paper tickets at 11:34:43. He said, "... why is it that half the people have to walk around with paper tickets?", then went on to say how he preferred to use contactless. So unless he acknowledges that many might prefer to have a simple 'piece of paper' as proof of the right to travel rather than having to maybe buy and keep a smartphone working and switched on, and relying on fault-free operating system and application software to do the same as getting a credit card sized piece of paper from a wallet/purse/pocket, the Government could be heading for a rather protracted argument on the subject.
But you haven't compared fairly there.
I'd suggest the majority of people do have a smartphone that is reliable and charged.

Sometimes people make problems for themselves.

I mean, do you walk around with your phone turned off? Is it so unreliable that you struggle to use it?

Flip things around and you have people walking around with barely legible pieces of paper that could be altered, lost, defaced in other ways, that increasingly lose their magnetic coding, that also don't provide any sort of usage details.

I'd rather have something that I've paid thousands of pounds for stored digitally in the cloud (ie an app) than on a small piece of card that I may forget. I'd never forget my phone and with longer than ever battery life + charging points on and increasing number of trains, people seem more determined to make excuses than be realistic.
 

Energy

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And they will miss out.

There's plenty of things that have changed in the past that have helped us progress, yet have made people miss out unless they took mitigation action.

For example the turning off of analogue TV. Either get a digital box, digital TV or miss out. The same will happen with FM radio.

Smartphones can be got cheaply.
If you don't want to get one through fear, the answer is to investigate that fear rather than force an old system to continue just so you don't have to evolve your way of life. That's like asking petrol stations to continue stocking 4* petrol...

Smartcards are free to obtain.
Possibly a cost to replace but no doubt it'll be the same or less than if you lost your paper season ticket... in this ever increasingly digital world.

Same with contactless cards.
If lots and lots of people were having their card skimmed, you'd hear about it a lot more. That is scaremongering at its best.
Plus, with banking apps now encorporating ways to turn the card on and off, you can do that if you wish.
For me, the messing about far outweighs the benefits - especially as banks are actually pretty good at refunding fraud cases and most wallets come with built in protection anyway. So really, there's no excuse not to have a contactless card.
The oyster cards cost pence, source is if you look up the model of the chip used in oyster cards on Alibaba you can buy unbranded ones, so it is probably cheaper for operators to give them out to the few who don't have a contactless card or smartphone than to install the extra equipment for paper tickets.
 

yorksrob

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Smartphones can be got cheaply.
If you don't want to get one through fear, the answer is to investigate that fear rather than force an old system to continue just so you don't have to evolve your way of life. That's like asking petrol stations to continue stocking 4* petrol...
That's not really a valid comparison IMO. There was a genuine public health dis-benefit to 4 star petrol which made it necessary to phase it out. The same can't be said of paper ticketing. In fact, it's remarkably effective and easy to use for the passenger.
 

matt_world2004

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The oyster cards cost pence, source is if you look up the model of the chip used in oyster cards on Alibaba you can buy unbranded ones, so it is probably cheaper for operators to give them out to the few who don't have a contactless card or smartphone than to install the extra equipment for paper tickets.
74p per oyster card to be precise
 

matt_world2004

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It varies depending on who is making the card though, whoever makes oyster cards may charge 74p but some charge quite a bit less if you buy loads while others charge a bit more.
The RFID cards sold on Ali express are not oyster cards. Oyster cards have custom encryption systems and it's not even certain that they would be compatible with an oyster card even if loaded with the correct software. .the wholesale cost of an oyster card is 74p.
 

Nean

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That's not really a valid comparison IMO. There was a genuine public health dis-benefit to 4 star petrol which made it necessary to phase it out. The same can't be said of paper ticketing. In fact, it's remarkably effective and easy to use for the passenger.
At the moment paper ticketing's being considered a COVID transmission vector in my industry (entertainment) as you have to be closer to someone and physically hand an item over (and then back). Mobile ticketing allows you to mitigate this quite nicely as it's completely contactless and can be done outside arms length if done correctly, or even behind a perspex screen. I'm aware it's not the same level of health detriment as 4* but it is now a factor that has to be considered and sufficiently assessed.
 

Energy

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The RFID cards sold on Ali express are not oyster cards. Oyster cards have custom encryption systems and it's not even certain that they would be compatible with an oyster card even if loaded with the correct software. .the wholesale cost of an oyster card is 74p.
These cards use the exact same chip as oyster cards, just different software.
 

yorksrob

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At the moment paper ticketing's being considered a COVID transmission vector in my industry (entertainment) as you have to be closer to someone and physically hand an item over (and then back). Mobile ticketing allows you to mitigate this quite nicely as it's completely contactless and can be done outside arms length if done correctly, or even behind a perspex screen. I'm aware it's not the same level of health detriment as 4* but it is now a factor that has to be considered and sufficiently assessed.
Maybe, but by the time we're in a position that paper ticketing can be done away with altogether, the COVID19 situation will have moved on anyway.
 

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