The Integral Role of AFC System Operators in Streamlining Public Transport
July 15, 2019
While the digital wave prominently reshapes multiple industries, it has also significantly impacted the realm of public transit, introducing Automated Fare Collection (AFC) systems. However, there’s an often-overlooked player in this digital transformation – the AFC System Operator.
Misconceptions and Overlooked Significance
A common misconception prevailing among transit agencies and operators is envisioning the implementation of an AFC system as a ‘magic wand.’ But is it as simple as flipping a switch? Vendors, focused on product sales, often neglect the post-implementation reality, assuming the functionality of their equipment is the end of the road. But is that all there is to it?
The Invisible Network: Analogies in Understanding
Consider mobile network operators. It’s universally acknowledged that merely installing cell towers and distributing smartphones won’t create a functioning network. The pivotal role lies in the hands of those who operate, manage, and optimize the network. Why then, when it comes to AFC, is the necessity of operators often disregarded?
The Role of AFC System Operators
In essence, an AFC System Operator ensures the consistent and reliable operation of the AFC system.
For large public transit operators, who might manage AFC systems internally, this involves a dedicated team. Essentially, it mirrors having a mini mobile network managed within a single company.
However, for smaller transit operators or scenarios involving multiple entities, especially those that cannot afford to set up a new department or hire qualified personnel, AFC System Operators become indispensable.
Behind the Scenes: More than Just Technical Operations
The duties of AFC System Operators transcend the apparent technical components, like selecting appropriate configurations or managing ticketing media. Their role is to coordinate the overall system operation:
Establishing ticket purchase networks, which includes integrating with IT infrastructure and onboarding ticket sale agents.
Overseeing ticket issuance and distribution.
Integrating all stakeholders into the system: transit operators, agencies, passengers, and agents.
Ensuring seamless system functionality.
Organizing, Analyzing, and Providing Unseen Support
AFC System Operators also delve into:
Implementing various fare and ticket types.
Data collection and analysis, report formation.
Organizing payments for services provided between agents and transit companies.
Offering 24/7/365 technical and customer support – not just to transit operators and agencies but also to agents, their personnel, and notably, the passengers.
Mitigating Challenges for Public Transport Entities
For public transport entities, collaborating with AFC System Operators alleviates numerous challenges, enabling them to focus on their core business activities. This partnership minimizes costs and negates the necessity of becoming instant IT experts, offering an alternative to either mastering the digital domain internally or outsourcing to seasoned experts in the form of AFC System Operators.
The Underpinning of Financial Flow in Transit Operations
In the grand scheme, AFC System Operators do more than keep the technological wheels turning; they enable transit operators to do what is paramount: collect revenue for their services. In a nutshell, they aid in the survival and financial sustenance of transit companies by offering specialized, high-value services that underpin the entire operation.
In navigating the intricacies of digital transition, understanding and acknowledging the pivotal role of AFC System Operators is paramount. These entities, operating subtly behind the scenes, ensure not just the functionality but the optimization of automated fare collection systems, facilitating a smoother, more efficient public transit experience for operators and passengers alike.