News | December 20, 2000

Smart card system will help keep Romans moving

An alliance between Motorola and Australia technology company ERG has heralded a smart card fare system for Rome's transit authority that the companies said was the first in a European city to integrate all modes of public transportation using contact-less technology.

Motorola said that the Metrobus system is being used for ATAC, the public-transport authority that operates the bus, rail and tram network in Rome and the surrounding region of Lazio.

Thousands of smart cards have been issued to the public. Motorola said the number of cards issued would increase to more than 350,000 in six months. More than one million cards are to be issued by the end of next year.

The new system was officially launched by ATAC President Mario Di Carlo at the main Termini station in central Rome.

"With the introduction of the new system, we put the most advanced innovation at the disposal of the majority of Romans," Di Carlo said.

ERG Chief Executive, Peter Fogarty, who attended the launch in Rome, congratulated Rome authorities.

"The delivery schedule in Rome has been very short and to implement such a large-scale system in 16 months is a great achievement and demonstrates the close collaboration between the customer and the ERG Motorola Alliance," Fogarty said. "We look forward to extending the system across other parts of Italy and in working with ATAC to progressively extend and upgrade the public transport network in Rome and Lazio."

The so-called ERG Motorola Alliance got the Rome-Lazio contract from ATAC last year. It's for nine years, with a nine-year option. The companies said the new system would be extended across the Rome metropolitan and surrounding Lazio area over the next year. They said the system is based on ERG's Hong Kong technology, and on Motorola's smart cards and products.

Public-transit users can purchase single-ride paper tickets, and purchase or reload multi-journey or season tickets at distribution points around Rome. Units good for transit on public modes are loaded into smart cards, which are then debited by terminals at stations, or on bus or trams.

The system supports all operators of bus, tram, train and underground services in Rome and in Lazio. That includes:

  • 5,000 buses
  • three light rail lines and 76 rail stations.
  • 9,700 smart-card validators
  • 4,000 point-of-sale devices
  • 200 portable card readers, depot and station computers
  • a sophisticated communications system
  • central computer network
  • card-issuance center with card-issuing devices

Edited by Michael Lear-Olimpi, Managing Editor, Logistics Online. Reach him at