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Flashback Friday: The transit conundrum

Transit functionality on the campus card has long been tricky business. Despite the fact that transit capabilities have been successfully implemented on campus cards, there have been as many or more misses.

When we examined this conundrum in our 2015 coverage “Getting a lift with the student ID,” we spoke with professionals across the industry in an attempt to decipher exactly why this campus card use case is so elusive. What we discovered was that technical, financial, logistical and political issues can all serve to confound what is ultimately a well-intentioned idea.

One of the larger issues universities may face when trying to implement transit is that the campus might be using a different card technology than the local transit agency. With various transit companies using MIFARE or DESFire, and a university potentially leveraging iCLASS, prox or mag stripe, the integration becomes quite an undertaking.

Another challenge universities face when integrating transit functionality is navigating relationships with outside stakeholders. Partnerships with off-campus entities can be a challenge, particularly when you talk about large-scale projects that rely on public funding and the introduction of new technologies and processes. This is certainly the case with public transit, where the fare collection infrastructure refresh process can take years and cost many millions of dollars.

Not surprisingly, the fragmented nature of many transit systems makes it difficult to navigate. Compounding the challenge even further is that transit projects often require multi-modal support – train, bus, shuttle, etc. – and involve multiple jurisdictions in the decision making.

To hear some success stories and learn how campuses can navigate the transit integration challenges, check out our full “Getting a lift with the student ID.”

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