Eticketing: What Silicon Valley is Bad At

One of my first posts was called “A Letter to Silicon Valley” where I named 3 things in France that desperately need to be exported to Silicon Valley: SOS Medecins, the TGV and the Freebox.

Add electronic ticketing to the list.

I don’t care if public transporation is more popular in France than in the US – I simply cannot believe that the San Francisco public transporation system and the Caltrain still issue paper tickets. We are 2010 and the heart of high-tech still hasn’t adopted electronic ticketing? Scary.

What’s worse: the TransLink.

Yes, I am aware that there is finally an electronic ticketing system in place (mimics the current system available in France). But the BART began “testing” the technology in 2006 and TransLink only became available for the first time in the summer of 2009. Even worse,  it only works on certain train, subway and bus lines. That’s sad.

One would think that in a place like Silicon Valley, mobile ticketing would already be obsolete. But no, they’re only just beginning to move on from paper.

France, on the other hand, is discussing an upgrade of their current electronic ticketing system.

The current eletronic ticketing system in place for the Paris transportation is the NAVIGO, which is a contactless smart card (a French invention, FYI) using RFID technology – exactly what the TransLink is. It’s been around for ages. Users keep the same card and can put weekly and monthly credits on the card at electronic charging stations.

What about Weneo?

France now wants to kick-it up a notch and is experimenting with USB-key format electonic ticketing, to be known as Weneo passes.

Rather than having users add credits to their passes at electronic charging stations, users would be able to put additional credit on their passes from any computer with internet access.

All that sounds a lot better than paper to me.

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