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Technology

 December 19, 2000
Rome Setting The Pace For Contactless Smart Card Technology

 The ERG Motorola Alliance today announced the launch of the first full-scale rollout by a major city in Europe that integrates all modes of public transport using contactless smart card technology.

The Metrobus system is being rolled out for ATAC, the public transport authority which operates the bus, rail and tram network in Rome and the surrounding region of Lazio.

Thousands of smart cards have already been issued to the public and this will increase to over 350,000 in six months. More than one million cards are expected to be issued by the end of 2001.

The new system was officially launched by the President of ATAC, 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," said Di Carlo.

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

"Starting today, commuters in Rome will experience the most technologically advanced ticketing system in Europe," said David Jones, Vice-President and Director, System Solutions for the Motorola Worldwide Smartcard Solutions Division. "People on the move will love the 'touch and go' simplicity of contactless smart cards for fare passes."

The ERG Motorola Alliance was awarded the contract for Rome and Lazio by ATAC on June 28, 1999.

The new system will be progressively rolled out across Rome and Lazio over the next twelve months. The system is based on ERG's proven Hong Kong technology and Motorola's advanced smart cards and products.

Smart cards will be issued by the Alliance for all annual and monthly pass holders. The system also allows for the issue of secure paper tickets for single-ride and short-term tickets. Public transit riders will be able to purchase single ride paper tickets and purchase or reload multi-journey or season tickets at ticket distribution points throughout Rome. Public transport "units", purchased with cash or electronic transfer payments, are loaded directly onto a smart card and then debited by special contactless check-in/check-out terminals at the stations or on buses and trams.

The system supports all of the operators providing bus, tram, train and underground services within the city of Rome and Lazio - 5,000 buses, 3 light rail lines and all 76 rail stations. The system delivered comprises the smart cards, 9,700 validators, 4,000 point-of-sale devices, 200 portable card readers, depot and station computers, a sophisticated communications system, central computer network, card issuance centre with card issuing devices in 38 help centres, and maintenance support.