Afifi is a Nazareth based bus company that includes Nazareth Transport, United Nazareth Bus Service, Nateev Expresss and Nazarene Express. Currently the company operates inter-city lines in the north, covering Nazareth, Haifa, Karmiel and villages in the Galillee, and international lines to Amman (Jordan) and Sinai (Egypt). The company’s total fleet consists of around 1000 vehicles.
Afifi has been working with Transway and its Bus Ticketing Systems since 2006. Recently, Afifi has decided to continue and expand its business with Transway, and has decided to update the ticketing machines driver consoles for new buses, and ultimately exchange the current driver consoles (Ticket Machines) with newly defined and designed ones.
Afifi holds four (4) bus companies, and as such, uses clearance services from Transway. Afifi has about 880 machines from various models that it has purchased from Transway.
All public transportation bus companies in Israel are multi-client, as they are required to function in an interoperable environment. More specifically, it is possible to execute different uses of the smart cards on different bus companies. The architecture is complicated, meaning that there are numerous predefined contracts such as round trip tickets where the initial passage is with one company and on certain lines, and the return portion is with a different company and other lines. All of this flexibility is defined and maintained on the smart travel cards and Ticketing Machines throughout the country.
There are additional complications as the Afifi Group is actual a conglomerate with numerous subsidiaries under its control. As such, Afifi manages and holds an internal clearing house developed by Transway.
Even though all of the companies work with the same Ticket Dispensing Machines (driver’s console) from Transway and at the maintenance level it is possible to transfer Ticket Machines and buses from subsidiary to subsidiary, both the Ticket Machines and the Bus Ticketing System know to which subsidiary the driver is associated and the moment that he initializes the Ticketing Machine to work, he receives data that is only relevant to his specific line and his specific subsidiary. This separation is continuously held and reaches the TapNGo back office where the subsidiaries are able to update, to change and to view their own specific subsidiary data only.
The parent company, Afifi Group in this case, works with the authorization that allows it to look and to generate reports for each and every one of the subsidiaries separately or collectively. The system executes data analysis and transfers information in the form of signed financial reports to the relevant government offices that relate to the entire sales that the company did in a given month, divided into the different subsidiaries and various subjects or issues. This allows the transportation authority to realize subsidies that are due to the bus and transportation companies as a result of the populations that are eligible for subsidies (e.g. soldiers, students, etc.)
As part of the financial system, the Ticket Management System includes unique mechanisms that allow for the TapNGo back office system to know if all of the financial data has reached the back office or not, where the “gaps” are and what is the source driver(s) / machine(s) that are responsible for these “gaps”. In identifying these “gaps” the Electronic Ticketing System automatically sends requests to receive data from a number of channels, including physical channels that extract the data directly from the data memory. This allows for the secure transfer and receiving of all of the information, including from Ticket Dispensing Machines that have been taken out of the field for service.
The Ticket Management System includes driver cashier stations that allow the drivers to deposit money that they have collected from their passengers. The cashier station generates and supplies reports to the cashier operator who presents the debt to the driver and at the end of the process automatically creates all of the necessary documents in order to deposit the money into the bank.
Another element that is part of the Afifi Bus Ticketing System is the SmileNGo Personalization Station. These manned stations allow for the creation of personal passenger cards that include certain details that allow for the different Ticket Machines to decide if this particular passenger is eligible for an additional discount. Furthermore, after the personalization process is complete, it is possible to insure the card such that in the case of loss or theft of the card, the credentials can be restored by the passenger by simply producing a recognized identity card. At the station itself, the passenger gets her picture taken, fills out and signs a form. Her credentials, signature and form are all scanned and saved on the TapNGo back office server. All personal information is encrypted and saved on separate database in the record system such that there is no way to produce, derive or receive data that connects the identity of a person to their usage and movements on the Public Transport Ticketing System. All of these safeguards are part of Transway’s compliance with the demands and laws relating to privacy in Israel.
The Ticketing Machines on the buses allow for the driver to choose the bus line manually or automatically from the Bus Ticketing System's work schedule. Immediately upon choosing the bus line, the relevant pricing and allowed payment methods for that line are updated, as well as the internal and external signage for commencing the route. Upon arrival to each station, the Electronic Ticketing System updates the signage accordingly with the relevant current station information, as well as information about the next stop. All of the information collected during the trip is automatically backed up by two (2) mediums simultaneously and are broadcast to the back office. The data that is sent to the back office are divided into three (3) categories:
1. Monitoring data – Real time data that report the situation of different parts of the Ticketing Machine through the FMS and various communications systems on the bus. The pace of the updates can be as frequent as every 20 seconds.
2. Real time data – Data that has high importance to reach the TapNGo back office in a timely manner, and is usually not large in scope, usually data about financial activity on the Ticket Dispensing Machine, is sent every five (5) seconds.
3. Packages and files – all of the data that has a large scope of information such as travel summaries, price tables, software updates, etc. is data that is transmitted on an as needed basis only every four (4) hours.
Ticketing Machines on the bus allow the driver to sell over eight (8) types of ticketing that are operated in the project (for example: monthly unlimited, weekly unlimited, weekly unlimited, daily unlimited, round trip, aggregate value ticket, etc.). TheTicketing Machine is capable of displaying the most frequently used ticketing methods on the main screen thus avoiding unnecessary typing by the driver during the ride. The Ticket Management System allows for intelligent location based-sales that are based on different zones or areas and that are activated and run by certain lines. Since the Electronic Ticketing System is interoperable, as it uses and considers the products from other companies, in order to execute a correct and reliable clearing, time stamps for all activities executed on the bus need to be exact and synchronized with the Tap NGo back office. To this end, the Ticketing Machine receives clock synchronization from four (4) different systems according to predefined priorities.
The Bus Ticketing System is connected to validators near the back door that are connected and controlled by the Driver's Ticketing Machine, which makes it possible for passengers to board the bus from the back door and use their smart cards on the validator. The Electronic Ticketing System is defined (settings are changed from the TapNGo back office system) such that a failed validation alerts the driver through the driver’s Ticket Machine. It is possible, but not recommended, to alert the driver for each and every successful validation. The validators are intelligent units that receive all of the necessary information in order to decide whether or not a certain smart travel card is suitable and eligible for a particular line or not during the time that the validation is attempted and according to the line chosen by the driver.
The validators are based on touch screen and allow the passenger to pose simple inquiries about his travel contract zones where the passenger needs to decide on his alighting station. To this end, two decision buttons light up for the current zone and the next zone in order to optimize the interaction speed and decision process of the passenger with the validator. In addition to this, both the validator and the driver Ticket Machine support group validation with smart travel cards by defining the group on the touch screen before validating with the contact-less validator.
The driver’s Ticket Machine also includes an option for sending text messages to the driver via the TapNGo back office. The control system of the back office has a high level of granularity and flexibility so that these text messages can be sent to an individual driver, a defined group of drivers or to the entire fleet, depending on the needs and choices of the Afifi staff. The text can even be sent as ‘urgent’ and will appear immediately, even during the process of ticketing a passenger. The settings can be such that the driver is obliged to reply or perform an action for messages sent with urgent priority. A safety system is integrated with the Bus Ticketing System whereby the driver is prevented from selling or using the smart cards while the bus doors are still open, or alternatively if the bus is in motion. The Ticket Management System is both granular and flexible and as such, allows for specific changes from the TapNGo back office, such as defining a card sales black out period for a certain amount of time from the commencement of the trip. For example, ticket sales may be permitted immediately, after 15 minutes, or after a half hour, depending on how Afifi wishes to set up their Ticket Management System.