With the advent of smart cards, many cities have embraced the implementation of a single travel card that enables passengers to seamlessly switch between transit services, and that offers transfer discounts and other fare incentives that promote transit usage.
However attractive, the implementation of these card schemes presents many challenges. The integration of fare payments requires that competing transport operators collaborate in the collection of revenues and agree on an integrated fare policy and revenue apportionment mechanisms to share the costs of passenger discounts. Additionally, designers must take extra care to make sure that different integrators and vendors can provide equipment and software to the ecosystem, thus guaranteeing competition and innovation without compromising on the integration of the card scheme.
Paraguay's Ministry of Public Works and Communications asked us to design a multi-dimensional ticketing framework. This framework was expected to lay the foundations for national interoperability based on the collaboration of competing bus operating companies, which should all agree on an set of technical, commercial and organizational principles in order to achieve the common goal of enabling the seamless travel of passengers across the country.
The framework considers three key perspectives: technical, commercial and institutional. Through a comprehensive understanding of current dynamics between public and private stakeholders, new responsibilities were assigned; control was ensured to authorities, whereas open market conditions were guaranteed to private companies.
The national ticketing framework was made official with the issuance of a national decree, compelling authorities and private companies to comply with a set of core responsibilities, needed to warrant the implementation and operation of the so-called National Ticketing System. Moreover, the decree guaranteed multiple solutions to coexist simultaneously without the need of costly integrations or the risk of permanent service fragmentations, assuring that multiple issuers and acquirers can provide an integrated service nationwide. Additional annexes were prepared to regulate key elements of the system, such as the certification process, payment rules, service levels, and technical specifications of a national fare method.
The entire framework allowed the Ministry to take a leap forward in the evolution of the nation's public transport service. While other authorities struggle to provide high quality public transport with working ticketing solutions, Paraguay now has a clear path to develop a National Ticketing System in an environment that fosters competition, encourages high quality service and guarantees advancement towards future ticketing trends.