Development and Practical Application of Contactless Smart Card Ticketing System
K. Suzuki(JR East Mechatronics Co.,Ltd.), A. Shiibashi(East Japan Railway Company), S. Katagata(East Japan Railway Company), H. Nagase(JR East Mechatronics Co.,Ltd.), K. Hasegawa(JR East Mechatronics Co.,Ltd.)

1. Overview

IC ticketing and fare collection systems using non-contact IC cards differ from conventional magnetic ticket systems in that commuter pass and stored fare (SF) functions are integrated onto an IC card, so fare processing that takes into account the commuter pass section is done simply by touching the antenna portion of an automatic fare collection gate even outside the commuter pass section. Therefore, ticket vending machines, fare collection gates and other technology that allow ticket processing to be performed in an extremely short time compared to magnetic ticket processing, technology and medium that allow repeated reuse of IC cards, and other technology were developed and introduced. Eliminating the need for individual ticket purchases and fare adjustments increased convenience for railway users, reduced fare collection gate lifecycle costs, and reduced the number of ticket vending and fare adjustment machines that needed to be installed. In addition, allowing repeated use of the medium also contributes to the recycling of resources.

2. Technical Contents

Fig. 1 shows the overall configuration of the IC card ticketing system (in the case of JR East). This system is comprised of machines that perform ticketing duties (ticket vending, etc.) and fare collection duties, and backroom processing systems that manage station revenue and perform remote monitoring. All the ticketing and fare collection machines had to be equipped with IC ticket functions. The technical features of this system are described below using the example of JR East's Suica IC card ticketing system.
Functions that allowed non-contact processing of the commuter pass and SF services combined by IC cards had to be developed for the automatic fare collection gates. The important points for this were realizing a processing speed and reliability that would not hinder smooth passage through the gates during the morning and evening rush hours in the National Capital region. Therefore, the gate passage time of IC card users was measured (Fig. 2) to clarify the required processing capability. As a result, the communication speed between the IC card, the gate reader/writer and the gate control unit was increased, and the communications field shape was optimized. In addition, the automatic fare collection gate judgment unit processing time was shortened by devising a function that records the commuter pass section stations as tentative fare adjustment data inside the card when entering the gate in order to increase the fare calculation speed when the user exits at a station outside the commuter pass section. (Fig. 3)
Batteryless IC cards were selected to allow repeated use. The information printed on the surface of commuter passes must be rewritten when the pass is renewed, so a rewrite sheet with superior coloring and erasing properties was developed. In addition, commuter pass vending machines require rewrite and high-speed printing functions in a limited space, so technology for performing printing control with a single thermal head and one cycle was also developed and applied.

3. Conclusion

JR East introduced a large-scale IC card ticketing system from November 18, 2001, and the number of users reached approximately 3.95 million people in just over a half year as of May 21. So far operation is proceeding smoothly with no major trouble. Users have expressed favorable opinions, the contribution of the system to Japanese society has been recognized, and there are high expectations for expanded use in the future.


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