The two transport operators are to combine their existing Touch&Travel and HandyTicket services to deliver a single solution that lets passengers buy tickets on any service with their NFC phone.
German national rail operator Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund (RMV), the transport authority for the Frankfurt region's bus, train and underground services, have agreed to work together to create a single NFC-based ticketing system that draws on both organisations' existing NFC ticketing projects.
Deutsche Bahn's NFC-based Touch&Travel system was first piloted in early 2008 with 200 users on the Hannover to Berlin line and in the city of Potsdam, and was then extended to cover travel between the cities of Cologne, Frankfurt, Hannover and Berlin in 2010.
With the Deutsche Bahn system, passengers present their NFC phone to a Touch&Travel Touchpoint at the start of their journey and then check in again at a Touchpoint at the end. The fare is automatically calculated and charged to their Deutsche Bahn account, which is settled on a monthly basis via direct debit. Telefónica O2 Germany, Vodafone and T-Mobile subscribers equipped with an NFC phone are all able to use the service.
RMV's HandyTicket system uses similar touch points, known as ConTag points, which are located at stations in the Frankfurt area and also at bus stops and other travel departure points. These can be used to easily access real-time timetable and travel information provided on RMV's mobile website, by simply touching an NFC phone to the ConTag, and to purchase tickets, again via the transport operator's mobile site.
Last year, RMV joined with VGF, the city of Frankfurt's transport operator, to place smart posters, known as Info-Modules, in carriages on the U1, U2, U3, U4 and U5 lines on Frankfurt's U-Bahn underground railway and also on the Ebbelwei Express sightseeing tram service. The Info-Modules incorporate both NFC tags and 2D barcodes and provide a link to real-time travel information as well as access to information about transport connections, special events and points of interest as well as details of special offers for holders of RMV's Erlebnis (Adventure) Card.
Now, the two organisations have committed to bringing together their NFC projects to build one combined service so that passengers will be able to use NFC-enabled mobile phones to buy tickets for both local and long-distance travel.
The new system will see the existing ConTag and Touch&Travel touchpoints in the Frankfurt area being replaced with new versions that enable tickets to be purchased for journeys involving both public transport operator's services. The service is then set to expand across the Hesse region over the next two years and, ultimately, to the whole of Germany.
"I have seen e-ticketing systems in operation in Venice and in several Chinese cities and I think that it is high time that we got such a solution in Frankfurt," says Petra Roth, the mayor of Frankfurt. "For the first time, this system will be able to connect the whole Rhine-Main region."