“We will not replace all of our current validators,” said head of the city transport board Andres Harjo. New type of machines that can read QR codes and in the future NFC or contact-free bank cards will be installed near the door closest to the driver on public transport vehicles. “People are used to boarding buses using the front door to be able to buy tickets elsewhere in the world,” Harjo explained.
“We created QR tickets because when we launched our new ticket system four years ago, we did away with paper and mobile tickets. People had fewer ways of buying tickets. Now we are bringing these things back in a sense, but in a better and more economical form. You can buy a QR ticket both using your phone or your printer at home. A person does not have to have a smartphone to use the service. You can buy the ticket online, print it out, put it in your wallet, and validate it on the bus,” chief specialist of the ticket system Tiit Laiksoo explained.
“We believe that QR tickets bought using cell phones will be the prevalent option. It is very easy to display a QR code on the screen of a smartphone and hold it to the validator,” he added.
QR tickets will be sold online. The current website www.pilet.ee will remain. It will be given a thorough overhaul and can be used to buy QR tickets. People can forward QR tickets to their email address, smartphone, or print them out instead. The website can also be used to put money to Tallinn's green card.
The other option for buying QR tickets is a mobile application. “We do not currently have a special tickets app; however, we will make one available on both the App Store and Google Play. The app will always have up to date information and all of the person's tickets. It will be very simple; you will have a ticket in just a few swipes,” Laiksoo said.
He said that currently the system does not favor people who come to Tallinn for a short time and want to return their green cards before leaving again. “Until now that was only possible in a single location; however, we will have more places. There is one at the Tallinn bus terminal already. It will also be possible to return the cards at the airport, train station, and the port's A and D terminals,” Laiksoo said.
The city is planning to put up posters in English near city entrances with instructions on how to download the free app and buy tickets.
The new validators will be able to communicate with NFC or contact-free bank cards, while the adoption of the system will take some time.
“We have the technical capacity; however, we need to achieve inter-bank certification, which is a complex, expensive, and time-consuming business. It makes sense once you have a lot of compatible devices as you will have to pay less per device. However, the banks and the economy ministry are working on it. We hope things might get as far as validators being able to read cards by fall,” Laiksoo explained.