Staff Report #7
November 28, 2018
To All Commissioners
Re: Information Technology Update
That the report be NOTED and FILED.
Smart Card Implementation
As reported previously, extensive testing of web payment processes including the purchase and automatic top-up of stored value has recently been completed. The results have been good and the plan to roll-out stored value on smart cards is now underway. See table below for roll-out plan.
A “soft-launch” is planned for the first phase beginning in January 2019 where stored value will be issued and revalued at LTC locations. Newly issued cards along with cards currently in circulation (prior use as a monthly pass) will also be eligible for stored value revaluing on the Smart Card portal via a one-time top up or a recurring purchase. Discussions are currently under way with the City of London to expand the products offered at their locations (currently only Income Based and Youth monthly passes are offered) to include the remaining monthly passes (Citipass, Weekday) as well as stored value in the second phase of the roll-out. The final phase is planned to involve a third party retailer that, similarly to the City of London, would revalue all LTC products at locations across the city. Talks are underway with a recognizable retail chain who is very interested in the foot traffic generated by their offering of LTC products and the overall synergy it creates. Initial discussions have contemplated the possibility of a pilot within a few stores and then a full roll-out if successful. The timing of the initial pilot is realistic within the first quarter of 2019 with potential for full roll-out during the second quarter.
Given the success and consistency in issuing and revaluing monthly passes via smart card over the last quarter, it is time to phase out the paper based passes. At this point, over 90% of all passes are issued via smart card, with the remainder utilizing the traditional paper method. These paper passes are still offered for the Citipass and Weekday monthly passes, with LTC locations accounting for 50% of that volume. The remaining passes are distributed at Scotiabank, Fanshawe, Western and a sales outlet within White Oaks Mall. It is targeted that paper passes will no longer be circulated by the end of the first quarter of 2019. Consistent with the introduction of the Income Based and Youth passes, all new fare types will only be available on Smart Cards.
As an initial strategy to have riders migrate to the smart card, a planned issuance fee of $3 per card has been waived up to this point in time. The $3 fee was identified to not only cover the cost of the actual smart card, but also to deter riders from treating the card as a disposable item. Further, with the introduction of stored value, card holders can utilize a feature that allows the card to go into a negative balance of $2. This feature was set up to provide the card holder one additional ride after depleting their stored value, noting it would be repaid when revaluing the card. However, without charging for the issuance of the card, the rider has no incentive to replenish this negative balance and LTC could end up providing one free ride for each card issued and further, would not be reimbursed for the cost of the physical card. When stored value is rolled out, the $3 fee will be charged to all new cards issued. An introductory period where the fee could be waived may be considered, but will be very short term in nature (i.e. one month) in order to help promote the smart card for stored value.
At this point in time, the current hand-held readers to be utilized for specialized vehicles continue to be problematic and are not operational. Communications and battery life have been a significant issue and unfortunately the hardware itself has challenges being serviced going forward. Scheidt and Bachmann are currently investigating alternative hardware suppliers at which point LTC will assess and hopefully look to adopt. In the meantime, stored value is not available for specialized services as a result.
Stored Value Implementation Plan
|January 2019||Soft launch of stored value
Issuance and revaluing of stored value at LTC locations and WEB portal
|Mid Q1, 2019||Revaluing of all LTC product at City of London locations (planned)|
|End Q1, 2019 (March)||Phase out of paper passes|
|Mid – End Q1, 2019||Roll-out of third party retail sales (pilot)
Revaluing of all LTC product at third party partner select locations
|Q2, 2019||Roll-out of third party retail sales (full)
Revaluing of all LTC product at remaining third party partner locations
In the coming weeks, administration will be developing a communication plan for this roll-out which will include on-board notifications, the LTC website and Social media messaging.
Google Transit Real-time Data Feed
The AVL vendor and LTC have continued to run down every issue and minor warning remaining, none of which should have been enough to prevent go-live. In communications with Google they have simply replied that their Quality Assurance is continuing. Upon more recent pressing, Google replied on November 21, 2018 that they wished to monitor the feed “for another week or so” and asked that LTC be patient. A new static feed goes into effect on November 24, 2018 so it is possible that Google is waiting to see that it doesn’t cause any problems. If there are any developments between the writing of this report and the Commission meeting, they will be reported verbally at that time.
London Transit has considered several factors in developing an approach to Open Data that would best balance the key issues of accessibility to the public, LTC staff resources, flexibility for the organization and privacy/security concerns. The City of London and comparable transit properties were consulted or surveyed with respect to what they were offering and under what terms. Of the municipalities surveyed, the three of comparable size with London relied heavily on the GTFS (General Transit Feed Specification, commonly known as the Google Transit feed) as the foundation of their Open Data offerings.
Summary of Open Data Offerings from Peer Transit Systems
|Brampton Transit||Brantford Transit||Grand River Transit||Halifax Transit|
|· GTFS static||· Route GIS data||· GTFS static||· GTFS static|
|· GTFS-rt||· Route tabular data||· GTFS-rt||· GTFS-rt|
|· Go Stations||· Stops GIS data||· GRT Stop Locations|
|· Bus Routes||· GRT Routes|
|· Stop Locations||· ION Stations and Routes|
|· Terminals and Facilities Street Addresses|
In all cases, detailed Open Data policies were not made available, with these communities and others opting for more loosely defined initiatives aimed at sharing data as freely as possible while respecting privacy, legal and security concerns.
The City of London has plans to create a more formal policy in 2019 using an as-of-yet unformed Open Data Working Group and new servers dedicated to the purpose. London Transit administration will be looking to participate in this Working Group and adopt, where applicable, any recommendations stemming from the review.
In the interim, London Transit will opt for a smaller scale approach similar to that taken by other transit properties rather than a prescriptive policy and server investment that reduces the organization’s ability to be flexible in addressing the competing demands of public engagement, privacy concerns and limited resources.
London Transit’s initial open data offering will consist of:
- GTFS static and real-time feeds
- GIS spatial data for all stops and routes
- tabular (Excel) data for LTC stops, shelters, benches and bus routes
This approach was deemed most appropriate at this time given consideration of availability of data and current staffing resources. The review recognized that, while there may be other data available, once it is added to the open data catalogue, staff resources must be allocated to ensure the data remains current, valid and that any information that could be a privacy concern be redacted/removed prior to making it available. The current organizational structure in place at London Transit places responsibility for data in the respective departments where it is generated. Should consideration be given to expanding the offering of data, corresponding consideration of staff resources will need to be undertaken.
Patrick Cormier, Manager of Information Services
Concurred in by:
Kelly S. Paleczny, General Manager
Draft Web Content / Open Data Statement
London Transit recognizes the power of Open Data to provide significant benefits to the people of London Ontario and beyond. Open Data enables individuals, organizations and government bodies to innovate and collaborate in new ways.
It is hoped that providing more Open Data will increase London Transit’s transparency and result in increased participation and contribution from the public as transit evolves in our city. Public data and its re-use are proving increasingly important to social innovation and economic growth, often resulting in efficiencies and solutions driven by more participation and collaboration than was previously possible.
While London Transit will not always be able to publish data due to privacy, security or limitations of resources, we are committed to expanding available data wherever possible. Please contact us at _____ with any requests or suggestions for more or different data and we will be happy to consider your input and get back to you.
- Use of any information indicates your acceptance of the terms below.
- The information provider (LTC) grants you a worldwide, royalty-free, perpetual, non-exclusive licence to use the Information, including for commercial purposes, subject to the terms below.
You are free to:
- Copy, modify, publish, translate, adapt, distribute or otherwise use the Information in any medium, mode or format for any lawful purpose.
- personal information;
- third-party rights London Transit is not authorized to licence;
- c) the names, crests, logos, or other official marks of London Transit;
- d) information subject to other intellectual property rights, including patents, trademarks, and official marks.
- The information is provided “as is”, and London Transit excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities, whether expressed or implied, to the maximum extent permitted by law.
November 28, 2018
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