The electronic Travel Card system has been in use in the Helsinki Metropolitan Area since 2002. Presently, the Travel Card is used on the public transport of five municipalities. The same card is in use in all transport modes – buses, commuter trains, trams, metro and Suomenlinna ferry. Over a million cards have been issued. Every day around one million passengers travel on public transport. According to surveys, customers are very satisfied with the card and the system has also proven reliable.
The life cycle of a Travel Card system is 10-15 years. The metropolitan area is expanding all the time and new technologies enable more advanced systems. To answer future challenges the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Council YTV has launched a project to transform the Travel Card system into a future generation system by 2014. The new ticket and information system will introduce new Travel Cards and a real-time passenger information system.
The project will be implemented in two stages. In the first stage during 2009-2011, the Travel Cards will be exchanged to cards conforming to the ISO standard and the whole system will be updated so that it can read both the current and the new generation cards. In the second stage, other parts of the system will be reformed and a real-time information system will be linked to it.
The project costs are estimated to be around € 41 million. In systems like this the investment costs form approximately 20 % and the running costs 80 % of the total costs of the system during its life cycle. Therefore, it is essential to plan carefully also the solutions affecting the running costs of the system.
The use of mobile phone as a ticket and reloading the Travel Cards through Internet will have an important role in the new system. Also the needs to change or improve the whole tariff system will be assessed as the system is reformed. A preliminary study on the subject has been made. The study analysed the effects of the present or an improved zone system and a more distance-based system on the use of public transport and the development of community structure.