Frequently asked questions
Why the new system?
A new Travel Card system is needed as the life cycle of this kind of systems is at most 10-15 years. The availability of new devices for the existing system introduced in 2002 is limited. It is getting difficult to get spare parts and components for the existing system and it can no longer be maintained. The new system substantially improves services and passengers' travel experience. In addition, the new system provides better conditions for further development of services.
What does it mean for passengers?
One of the most noticeable elements of the new system are the modern, touch-screen Travel Card readers. In addition, new ticket machines are introduced and single-ticket machines are installed on trams. Real-time departure time estimates for all transport modes are shown on displays at stops and terminals as well as in the new Journey Planner. In addition, the new Journey Planner shows vehicle locations on map. Displays showing the name of the next stop are installed on all buses and trams. Passengers will also get information about the next stop from audio announcements. Later, the displays and audio announcements can also be used to inform passengers about diversion routes and changes to services. The system enables improved real-time passenger information in sudden cases of disruptions. making travel by public transport easier and smoother.
How are value tickets purchased on the new Travel Card readers?Why the change?
When buying a ticket on a new touch-screen Travel Card reader, you need to confirm the purchase of the ticket by pressing OK. You show your Travel Card to the reader after the confirmation. When you show your card to the reader, the ticket is stored on the card and it cannot be changed. The OK button reduces the amount of errors as customers can check they have selected the correct ticket and change or cancel it, if necessary. Usability tests have shown that confirmation with the OK button, familiar from e.g. checkout terminals at stores, is easy to learn.
In addition, the OK button is necessary in the future zone system, in which customers have to select at least two travel zones and confirm the payment.
The reading area is in a different place. The idea is that the card reader can be used with one hand. The ‘0’ tram button is replaced by a button with a tram pictogram. Only card readers on trams have this button. You can try the new Travel Card reader here.
Do the existing Travel Cards work on the new readers?
Yes. The change of Travel Card readers takes several months. During the transition period, there are both old and new card readers in use. Travel Cards work on both readers.
Does a new card reader accept a value ticket bought at an old card reader? I bought a value ticket on an old card reader, can I transfer to a vehicle with a new reader?
Yes. The old and new readers are mutually compatible.
Are Travel Cards changed when the new system is introduced?
No. The old cards are used for payment in the new system. Travel Cards will be changed later to enable the introduction of the new zone system and online top up of Travel Cards. In addition, the useful life of the current Travel Cards is about to expire. Travel Cards will be replaced by blue HSL Cards, single-charge cards by white Visitor Cards. Cards will be changed conveniently when customers top up their cards at sales points. The change of card will be free of charge for a certain period of time. Passengers will be notified about the change of cards in good time.
Are the new zones introduced at the same time as the new Travel Card readers?
No, they are not. The current zone system (Internal ticket, Regional ticket, Extended region 2 and Extended region 3) will remain in use for some time. The new zone system is scheduled to be introduced approximately in 2017 once all new devices have been installed, Travel Cards have been changed to new ones and the entire ticketing and information system reform has been completed
Why the new zone system?
The new zone system will enable the regional tariff system to be expanded independent of municipal and administrative structures. Zone boundaries will be primarily based on distance from Helsinki city centre. Unlike at present, the boundaries will not follow municipal boundaries. This enables flexible expansion of the system. The Executive Board of HSL decided the zone boundaries in June 2012.
The zones are designated by letters A, B, C and D. Within the metropolitan area (Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen), the minimum purchase is two zones. In other words, if you travel within zone A, for example, from Pasila to Helsinki city center, you will need an AB ticket. The same ticket is valid for a journey from Pasila to Paloheinä, for example. The zone system can be extended to new areas. The shift to the new zone system will mean changes to the card reader and ticket machine buttons.
Will fares go up because of the new system?
The new ticketing and information system will not incur fare increases. According to its charter, HSL gets its funding from ticket revenue, tariff subsidies from municipalities (municipal contributions), state and other subsidies. HSL member municipalities have stated that maximum 50 per cent of the expenses may be covered by municipal contributions. In practice, 50 per cent of expenses must be covered by ticket revenue because other income is very low.
As the costs of large infrastructure projects, such as the Ring Rail Line and West Metro, implemented to improve the performance of the transport system and accessibility of public transport are allocated to the HSL member municipalities, there is pressure to increase ticket prices in the coming years, if the municipal contributions continue to cover maximum half of the expenses. A total of 50 per cent of investment costs and 100 per cent of operating costs are allocated to HSL and 50 per cent of these new expenses must also be covered by ticket revenue.
Why is HSL introducing audio announcements?
Audio announcements improve the accessibility of public transport. They benefit not only visibly impaired passengers but all public transport users. Audio announcements and displays showing the name of the next stop improve passenger information on buses and trams, enabling passengers to better keep track of where they are and get off at the right stop.
Audio announcements have been in use on buses and trams in several major European cities for years. In the HSL area, audio announcements cover 8,000 stops. At a later stage, the plan is to introduce also disruption alerts. The audio announcements are in Finnish and Swedish.
Will the number of displays at stops increase?
Displays are provided at the busiest stops according to the number of boardings. In addition, old displays are replaced by new ones. In Helsinki, in particular, there have been displays at stops for years already, thanks to the old information system about to be replaced. In other HSL municipalities the number of displays is increased as needed.
The new information system enables real-time departure time estimates to be displayed at all displays at stops. From the end of 2016, passengers will be able to use their mobile phones to check the departure time estimates for all stops from the Journey Planner.
Will there be more ticket machines?
New ticket machines will be mainly located at the same places as the current ones. In addition, new ticket machines are installed at Ring Rail Line and West Metro stations.
Why are single-ticket machines being introduced on trams?
A lot of single tickets are sold on trams and the ticket sales lengthens journey times. Single ticket machines are installed on trams because ticket sales by tram drivers will be discontinued to improve the performance of tram services.
Are debit cards accepted on buses and trams?
On buses, passengers can pay by cash and Travel Card. On trams, single ticket machines will in future accept contactless debit cards.
Why aren’t debit cards accepted onboard?
As payment by debit card is usually slower than payment by cash, it is not a suitable means of payment on busy urban transport services.
Why is the default number of passengers on card readers two? I want to pay my friend’s fare and I myself have a season ticket.
A group always consists of at least two passengers. The card reader does not know that you have a valid season ticket until you have shown your card to the reader. When you buy a group ticket and you have a valid season ticket, the card reader takes account of the season ticket when you show your card to the reader. The reader’s info display allows you to verify that you have bought one value ticket for your friend and your fare is covered by the season ticket.
Why do the new readers have an OK button?
At the new Travel Card reader, customers confirm their purchases by pressing OK. If there was no OK button, the device would always be ready to read a Travel Card and charge a purchase. In this case, customers would have to keep their cards away from the reader until the end of the purchase to avoid erroneous charges. The OK button allows the reader to be used with one hand, making payment easier for passengers carrying groceries or luggage, for example.
The new readers are much faster and more sensitive than the old ones. If you have not yet shown your Travel Card to the reader, you can also cancel your selection by pressing X. Every year, HSL receives thousands of claims for refund due to erroneous validations of tickets. We are trying to decrease the number of these errors by introducing the X and OK buttons.
In addition, the OK button is needed in the future zone model. In the new model, there will be several travel zones and customers need to select the zones they want to travel in. When designing the new devices, user tests were conducted with the current ticket system and the future zone system (zones A, B, C and D) in mind. In the user tests, the OK button was found useful because it diminishes button pressing errors. However, there were some passengers who doubted its usefulness. In the user tests for the new zone model, however, the usefulness of the OK button was not questioned.
In addition, the OK button is necessary when purchasing group tickets (2-31 value tickets) in order that the device knows when the customer has selected the desired number of passengers. In the user tests, it was considered important that the functioning of the device is consistent in all situations. In addition, it is important that the logic is the same than in the future zone model which will be implemented quite soon after the introduction of the new devices. First, Travel Cards need to be changed to new ones.