ERG Group Powers Philips Land and Ferry Transit Smart Card System

5/3/2004 - Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHI) announced that its world-leading MIFARE® contactless smart card technology has been selected by the ERG Group to establish a regional fare system in Seattle, Washington. The fare system based on Philips chip technology will improve the availability, reliability and convenience of public transportation, covering seven of the greater Seattle transit systems.

The Seattle and Puget Sound areas join the expanding list of North American urban regions adopting smart card technology to better coordinate their respective services and improve the availability, reliability and convenience of public transportation for the 130 million passenger journeys in the area per year. The Seattle system uniquely includes both land- and ferry-based transit applications, and it is anticipated that 400,000 smart cards will be initially issued this year for the transit system.

“We’re positioning ourselves to grow with this technology and see many other service providers joining our system in the future,” said Rick Walsh, general manager of King County Metro Transit. “As smart cards become more widely used, they can also be expanded to allow cardholders to pay for other services, such as parking, sundries or other municipal services. Eventually, the microchip with the transit information can be made even more convenient by embedding it in watches, key chains or other easily carried items for the convenience of the user.”

The new project involves seven transit agencies in the Seattle area, with the ERG Group acting as the overall system integrator. Through close collaboration between the two companies, the ERG Group will be using Philips’ MIFARE chip technology for the contactless smart card scheme in the Seattle area. For this project the latest generation of cost-effective technology for smart cards will be used, including the Philips MIFARE DESFire chip for standard transit cards and the Philips MIFARE UltraLight chip for disposable tickets. Fully in line with ISO 14443A, the standard for contactless smart cards, the MIFARE chip technology was first developed in early 1990’s and was one of the early, readily-available contactless smart card chips suitable for use in public transport. ERG has been successfully using cards based on this technology in many applications in Europe, and is ready to implement similar fare systems in the North American market.

“Regional fare collection is now becoming common in the United States,” said Mike Nash, general manager of ERG’s American operations. “The tremendous value and benefits of region-wide smart card-based fare collection have been proven around the world in systems developed by ERG. We’re gratified that forward-thinking transit officials are committed to bringing those same benefits to their regions.”

“Because of its flexibility and high-performance features, the Philips MIFARE technology has once again been chosen to power a regional transportation fare collection system,” said Jan-Willem Reynaerts, general manager for transport and logistics, Philips Semiconductors. “Residents of and visitors to the Seattle area will greatly benefit from increased efficiency and convenience in public transport, and Seattle will serve as an example to other parts of North America, showcasing the exciting possibilities that smart card technology can bring to the urban infrastructure.”

The disposable fare cards/tickets for use in the Seattle system are specifically aimed at the collector, tourism and human service program application areas. The disposable cards will have specialized graphics and be pre-valued with a set amount of money (e.g. $20), a set number of rides (e.g. 10), or a set period of time (e.g. 7 days after first use). The disposable fare card from ERG will be based on the MIFARE UltraLight ticket platform, an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) that has been specifically designed for use in transit environments. The UltraLight chip-based ticket represents a new range of low-cost contactless disposable tickets and will comply with the ISO 14443A standard. The tickets will operate on the same terminal as the MIFARE DESFire-based contactless smart cards.

About Philips’ MIFARE technology
With a substantial market share according to Derrick Robinson at IMS Research, Philips’ MIFARE portfolio is the established industry benchmark for contactless and dual interface smart card schemes. Operating at 13.56Mhz and in full accordance with ISO14443A – the international standard for contactless smart cards and readers – the MIFARE platform consists of chip solutions for pure contactless and dual interface smart cards and reader devices. The diversity of the MIFARE product portfolio covers low- and high-end chip solutions, providing smart identification technologies suitable for use in a wide array of design scenarios. MIFARE® is a registered trademark Koninklijke Philips Electronics N.V.

About Royal Philips Electronics
Royal Philips Electronics of the Netherlands is one of the world's biggest electronics companies and Europe's largest, with sales of EUR 29 billion in 2003. It is a global leader in color television sets, lighting, electric shavers, medical diagnostic imaging and patients monitoring, and one-chip TV products. Its 164,500 employees in more than 60 countries are active in the areas of lighting, consumer electronics, domestic appliances, semiconductors, and medical systems. Philips is quoted on the NYSE (symbol: PHG), Amsterdam and other stock exchanges. News from Philips is located at

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