Seek assurances from your suppliers and sub-contractors, that their production and manufacturing schedules will meet your project schedule and inventory requirements throughout the lifecycle of the project.
Orlando, Florida's experience with a Field Operational Test (FOT) on using a single smart card for transportation payments at facilities operated by multiple regional agencies.
Made Public Date


United States

Orlando Regional Alliance for Next Generation Electronic Payment Systems (ORANGES) Evaluation Final Report: Electronic Payment Systems Field Operational Test


In 2000, the US DOT awarded a Field Operational Test (FOT) grant to a group of public sector agencies located in the Orlando region. The project was titled Orlando Regional Alliance for Next Generation Electronic Payment Systems, or ORANGES. The US DOT was interested in identifying and evaluating issues associated with establishing partnerships between public transportation service providers and other transportation agencies, in developing and using multiple-application electronic payment systems that included smart card technology. The FOT requirements were specifically designed to test a payment system that could support a variety of payment applications, at a minimum including transit fare collection, parking payment and electronic toll collection.

As part of the national ITS program, the USDOT requires that each FOT have an independent evaluator. The evaluation is separately funded and has independent goals, objectives, schedules and deliverables. The USDOT evaluations also provide useful feedback to the local FOT participants, as well as other interested transportation stakeholders.

The FOT demonstrated the technical feasibility of implementing a regional smart card with a centralized clearinghouse for multimodal regional transportation payments, where a card issued by any participating agency could be used for payments with (and revalued at) smart card accepting equipment operated by any of the partner agencies.

Lessons Learned

The ORANGES experience demonstrated that limiting the number of customers using multiple-application electronic payment systems (through limited smart card availability) can negatively effect the impact of an ITS Field Operational Test (FOT). This limitation can also lower customer satisfaction of the system if initial (or replacement) cards are not readily available. This experience highlighted some problems that prevented the adequate supply of smart cards and related equipment, and suggests some strategies for avoiding these problems.

Accordingly, the ORANGES experience provides the following guidance:

  • Order more smart cards than the partners initially think they will need. Make a liberal estimate of card requirements for the initial card order, to avoid card re-supply delays during the cardholder recruitment period. For example, after the requirement for maintaining 800-1000 active cards throughout the 12-month demonstration period was established, the agencies attempted to order more smart cards from the supplier (Gemplus) to supplement the original order of 2100 cards. However, the production of this particular type of card had been discontinued. This was an issue because the replacement card type offered by the supplier was not compatible with the original card type, and its use would have required additional development expense (in terms of time and money) to integrate the new smart card into the program (which the FOT was not in a position to undertake). As Gemplus demonstrated here, card products can be discontinued before the replacement product is available – or conceivably without offering a replacement at all – and with little warning to current customers. In deciding how many cards to order initially, the implementation team had mistakenly assumed that they would be able to order additional cards if needed.
  • Plan for a sufficient supply of smart cards throughout the life cycle. It is important to seek assurances from your suppliers and sub-contractors that their production and manufacturing schedules will meet your project schedule. Include provisions in initial supplier agreements to guarantee the option to purchase additional cards throughout the project lifecycle, or to alternatively allow the project to migrate to a newer generation of cards and readers in a cost effective manner.

Developing a regional smart card payment system is related to the ITS Goal of improving customer satisfaction, through making payments for multimodal travel easier by establishing a regional payment method. An adequate ongoing supply of cards is an essential element in maintaining customer satisfaction; since a customer will likely lose interest in using the system if a card (or replacement card) is unavailable for an extended period.

The participating cardholders generally expressed a positive opinion about the technology, with concerns focusing primarily on the limited scale of deployment. The card availability issue limited the number of customers that could participate, but had no effect on the system performance experienced by cardholders (unless they needed a replacement card).

The ORANGES experience demonstrated that ensuring a sufficient and predictable supply of smart cards when developing a regional smart card payment system is critical for ensuring adequate numbers of customers for this type of ITS system. The examples above show different strategies and techniques for ordering cards, and working with vendors to ensure adequate card supplies. If these strategies and techniques are followed, stakeholders involved in other similar ITS projects will be more likely to avoid the pit falls associated with insufficient smart-card supplies.