What is an eTicket - and how does it work?

An eTicket is an electronic ticket for public transport. When we talk about an electronic ticket, we indicate this by the notation with the three brackets: (((eTicket. 

An (((eTicket is stored on a chip that can be written to and read by means of a standardized radio procedure. Therefore, an (((eTicket can be stored on very different user media: a smartphone, a plastic card as in the case of a monthly ticket, a job ticket or an annual season ticket, or even wearables such as smartwatches.

On the chip, the ticket is mapped as a data record and encrypted. To check the authenticity of such an (((eTicket, control teams on buses and trains use electronic readers that decrypt the (((eTicket, check it and immediately indicate whether the ticket is valid here and now. 

In the case of cell phone tickets that passengers purchase via their transportation company's app, the (((eTicket is shown visually on the display as a 2D barcode.  This is mainly due to the fact that not all smartphone manufacturers yet provide the necessary options for data exchange via radio (NFC). To protect cell phone tickets from being copied via screenshot, we have developed Motics (Mobile Ticketing Crypto Service). Here you can find out how it works. 

Did you know? Strictly speaking, a printed barcode on paper is also an electronic ticket, because it can be scanned and its validity checked with an appropriate reader. Unlike cell phone tickets, however, we have not yet developed copy protection for paper tickets.

Passengers need neither knowledge of fares nor the right change for the machine. They simply get on and go - without any change at all. If the chip card (or the corresponding user medium) is lost, the eTicket can be easily blocked and replaced in a very short time. Transport companies and associations no longer have to regularly send their customers new monthly or annual tickets. This saves time and money and is good for the environment.

Technically, a smart card can generally be used for five years. After that, it must be replaced. Normally, the issuing transport company sends the new chip card to the passenger in good time. Thanks to an innovation in our security management, chip cards can also be used for longer in the future. 

Currently, more than 450 transport companies and transport associations offer (((eTickets. (((eTickets are valid wherever the blue e with brackets can be seen. 

Passengers can obtain their eTicket directly from their transport company or transport association, or via their employer (Jobticket). Subscribers who have a monthly, annual or job ticket either receive their chip card by mail or can pick it up at the customer center. For transport companies that offer one-way tickets as (((eTickets, passengers can obtain the user media at the customer center.

It doesn't really matter which user medium the eTicket is displayed on. The main thing is that there is room for a chip on it. Accordingly, watches, key fobs and, above all, NFC-enabled smartphones can also be used.

However, the chip card is by far the most widespread user medium, at least in Germany: more than 15 million smart cards are currently in circulation. This means that around 80% of public transport passengers use an (((eTicket on a smart card.

Name, gender, date of birth - and the ticket itself. In other words: is it a monthly ticket, a trainee or semester ticket, is it an annual subscription - and where is the ticket valid.

In accordance with § 3 a BDSG, the data required for billing (distance traveled), the passenger's personal data (name, gender)and the data otherwise collected about the trip are processed separately. The master data and the billing data are only brought together for the purpose of billing or complaint processing.

Master data
During a ticket inspection, a reader can only access the master data after the passenger has entered a PIN or asymmetric authentication. The transport company that issued the chip card may also only access customer data with written consent.
If a passenger uses vehicles from two different transportation companies with his (((eTicket, only so-called pseudonymous data (related to authorization) is exchanged for billing purposes. In the event of a check, the system only checks whether the ticket is valid at the time and place of the check. 

Data that helps transport companies to improve their services - for example: when do how many passengers use which lines and to where - is stored and processed without any reference to the individual. 

Deletion of data
Unless there are legal retention periods for personal or pseudonymous billing data, all personal or pseudonymous data created during a trip is deleted or completely anonymized by the EFM operators or customer contract partners.

The (((eTicket is located on the NFC chip of the smartphone. This has a self-sufficient power supply. The smartphone battery is therefore irrelevant for the functionality of the (((eTicket in this case. Specifically, the (((eTicket can be checked even when the cell phone is switched off.

Passengers who have lost their smart card can easily have their eTicket blocked by their transport company or transport association. This can be done in person at the customer center, by phone, or online. The same applies, of course, in the event of theft.

What can (((eTicket Deutschland do?

The vision of (((eTicket Deutschland: Passengers should be able to use all means of public transport in Germany with one ticket - be it on their smartphone or chip card. The passenger from Cologne should also be able to travel in Berlin, Munich or Hamburg with his job ticket. And on buses, trains and streetcars.

Tickets for car sharing, the eScooter, the parking garage or a visit to the zoo can and should also be paid for with the (((eTicket in an interoperable, multimodal transport world. 

To enable German transport companies and associations to make this possible for their passengers, there is (((eTicket Deutschland. ((eTicket Deutschland is a product from the VDV (((eTicket Service for transport companies and transport associations, in which they can integrate pretty much all mobility services and offer their passengers cashless ticketing in all its forms. 

(((eTicket Deutschland smart cards can be topped up with credit. This works both at ticket vending machines and at service counters of the transport companies. This pre-paid credit can then be debited directly by checking in at a terminal, depending on the service offered by the transport company. Alternatively, passengers can of course also use their prepaid chip card to buy paper tickets at ticket machines. In this case, the prepaid card is completely anonymous.

Alternatively, passengers can set up a customer account with their local transportation company and add an auto-load function to their prepaid chip card. If the credit is used up or reaches a predefined value, a predefined amount is automatically loaded onto the card. 

This prepaid function of (((eTicket Deutschland has been available since 2006 and was the first step toward electronic fare management. Today, it is the basis for account-based ticketing.

In check-in/check-out systems (CiCo), customers hold their user media up to a terminal or reader to check in. He does the same when getting on or off the train. The fare is calculated in the background (automatic fare calculation) and either deducted directly from the credit on the chip card (pre-paid) or billed at the end of the month (post-paid).

This automatic fare calculation enables stop-by-stop billing, so that passengers really only have to pay for the kilometers they travel. 

The basic approach of automatic fare calculation for Be-In / Be-Out systems is the same as for CiCo. Here, however, there is no longer any active action on the part of the passenger. The smartphone or chip card is detected and registered when the passenger enters the vehicle. If the passenger leaves the vehicle, this is also registered and the fare is calculated in the background.

However, this technology is not yet in use in Germany. However, various research projects are underway to test different technologies for their suitability for mass use.

A mixture of check in/check out and be in/be out systems are check in/be out (CiBo) solutions. These are already in use in some countries. Germany is no exception. 

With CiBo systems, passengers check in at the start of their journey in the vehicle with their chip card and thus usually activate a time-based fare that is valid for 90 minutes, for example. Active check-out is not required. The passenger can travel as much as he or she wants within the 90 minutes.

CiBo is offered for occasional customers in combination with a smartphone app. Here, the passenger opens the transit agency's app and checks in to the vehicle via the app. When the person gets off, the active location recognition automatically ensures a check-out.

Technical infrastructure for (((eTickets

The (((eTicket is generated in a background system, secured by an IT security infrastructure, issued via distribution systems, stored on a user medium, and verified with control systems.

To ensure that this system works everywhere in Germany - regardless of the company that produced the control device or developed the transport company's app - there is a national standard for electronic fare management (EFM) in Germany: the VDV core application and its successor (((etiCORE.

The VDV core application or VDV KA as well as (((etiCORE are a construction manual for EFM systems in Germany. By using the same construction manual or standard, all locally emerging systems are able to communicate with each other and thus network with each other.