Electronic, On-Board

In-vehicle electronic ticket-issuing machines (ETMs) provide ticket-issuing functions within passenger transport vehicles.

By far the most common form of in-vehicle ETM is the type intended for use by the driver on one-person operation services. The ETM is mounted on a stand in a position suitable for interaction with the passengers. The ETM consists of the following core components:

  • keypad
  • display (single or multi-line)
  • ticket printer (dot matrix or thermal)
  • processor
  • memory
  • data transfer ports

Depending on the configuration, the ETM may also have the following features:

  • Embedded smart-card reader, to allow fare payment from electronic purse, or to function as validator for are products on smart-card.
  • Link to the vehicle location system, to provide information for automatic update of fare stage or fare zone.
  • Link to smart-card validators and other fare collection devices.
  • In many cases, the ETM functions as a “master” device for the fare collection and other devices on the vehicle. The ETM supports the peripheral fare collection and validation devices, and receives transaction data for storage or onward transmission.
  • Link to the fare-box to release coins/notes to the fare-box vault when the ticket is issued.

In-vehicle ETMs are used by drivers to issue tickets to passengers at the point of boarding. The ETM has a set of pre-programmed keys which allows the driver to select among ticket types and values. Transaction records are stored by the ETM.

The ETM usually has a set of management functions, some of which are available to the driver; others are only available to revenue controllers or administrators.

A less common form of in-vehicle ETM is a stand-alone self-service machine. These are usually large machines, located inside the saloon of the vehicle.

In either case, the ETM receives power from the vehicle electrical system, with appropriate filters to protect it from electrical spikes and power surges.

Benefits of in-vehicle electronic ticket-issuing machines are:

  • Provides an effective ticket issuing capacity for urban, regional and inter-urban bus services.
  • Contains the full range of ticket types and fare values.
  • Can select and issue tickets quickly, using one or two keystrokes – fast when used by an experienced operator.
  • Robust equipment and technology.
  • Relatively secure against personnel fraud.
  • Generates electronic data which can be transferred directly to the corporate IT systems.
  • The ETM can function as an on-vehicle computer, and support other in-vehicle devices (e.g. smart-card validators, fare-boxes).

Cautions with regard to in-vehicle electronic ticket-issuing machines are:

  • Cost of both the equipment and the software development can be quite high.
  • For some models, consumable and maintenance costs can be quite high.
  • Requires a structured back-office support to generate and manage the configuration data, and to process the transaction data and reporting.
  • Need to establish an effective maintenance regime, especially when used by independent operators in locations away from the major cities.
  • Inventory management.