August 18, 2013

Unclaimed public transport deposits a ‘goldmine’ for operators

Filed under: General by Branko Collin @ 4:23 pm

Telegraaf reports that public transport operators are making megabucks off of passengers that forget to swipe their public transport card (OV Chipkaart) when checking out.

The paper calls the thirty million euro that the companies pocket ‘a goldmine’. The OV Chipkaart system (basically a single-purpose electronic wallet) deducts a deposit when you check in and returns that money when you check out. That deposit is 4 euro for bus, subway and tram and ten euro for rail—twenty if you travel using an ‘anonymous’ card. According to Telegraaf, forgetting to check out happens approximately once every 100 trips.

The news follows hot on the revelation that the transport card seems to have led to considerable price hikes. RTL Nieuws reported two weeks ago that since the introduction of the card, fares have risen by as much as 48% (The Hague). Cities like Amsterdam and Groningen follow with rises of 38% and 20% respectively. For comparison, inflation in the Netherlands was around 4% during that period.

In July Dutchnews reported that rail users’ association Rover and travellers’ association ANWB had started a probe to find out exactly how much money passengers lose because of forfeiting their deposit. The results are expected in the autumn. Telegraaf does not say where it got its information, but instead cites ‘reliable sources’.

See also:

(Photo of public transport companies getting an ‘award’ for being the worst privacy offenders of 2010 by Sebastiaan ter Burg, some rights reserved)

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January 8, 2008

Public transport chip card suffers another blow

Filed under: Technology by Orangemaster @ 10:15 am
chip card logo

The security of the public transport chip card (OV-chipkaart), which was supposed to replace the strip tickets in 2007, has been compromised. German hackers have apparently cracked the secret code of the chip in the card. For Rop Gonggrijp, Dutch hacker and initiator of the campaign against voting computers, the consequences are clear: “This chip card technology is gone, broken, can no longer be used.”

According to the government, the chip card will now be introduced in 2009. However, more problems for the chip card just mean more delay in implementing it. Since the chip has been cracked, travellers could travel for free. And then imagine the breach of privacy with all the data on the chip. Other companies have simply taken measures to avoid being cracked, which was not the case here.

The two German researchers presented their breakthrough at the 24th Chaos Computer Congress in Berlin late last year. Cracking this ‘Mifare’ chip has been a huge thing with hackers for years. It was done with equipment that cost no more than EUR 100.

The Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management says on their site that “The OV chip card will be phased in from 2007 starting in the Randstad. The rest of the country will have a functioning OV chip card system around 2008. The strip ticket will be abolished no later than January 2009.” The last time they announced the abolishment of the strip ticket, the government has to reverse its decision because the chip card simply did not work. The list of problems in the Rotterdam test areas include gates that don’t open, broken card chargers, money transfers that never went through and checking in through a port, but forgetting to check out. Oh and about more than 3,000 complaints.

Having spent Christmas in Oslo, Norway, I saw the exact same chip card machine everywhere not being used by people and looking vandalised. I asked my Norwergian IT friend and he said “oh that thing, that doesn’t work at all”. They use strip tickets too.

(Link and image: Volkskrant)

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