ID-card-based electronic ticketing system in public transport (Tallinn. ESTONIA)

By News Editor / Updated: 29 Aug 2014

Tallinn has employed a fully electronic ID card-based sales, payment and control system. The system enables passengers to purchase electronic ID-tickets (eg 1-hour, 1-day ticket, 30-day travel card etc) either via website and an internet bank, mobile or ordinary phone, special ATM or for cash.

Background & Objectives

Drawbacks of a paper-based ticketing system:

  • limited distribution channels (only physical network) and service availability (not 24/7)
  • forged paper tickets
  • limited and labour-intensive statistics
  • slow cash turnover (from the moment of sale till cash on city´s account)


  • 24/7 service availability
  • multi-channel approach
  • forgery-proof tickets (personalised e-tickets)
  • possibility to create combined tickets with neighbouring municipalities
  • possibility to expand ticket range (1-hour tickets; x-hour tickets)
  • potential to develop a universal ticketing system for any kind of rights-based public service
  • possibility to create automatic services (direct debit which enables automatic purchase of a new ticket upon expiry)
  • increase of fare revenue outcome yearly

Beneficiaries: citizens, including travellers entitled to concessions (retired, disabiled, children, large families etc.)



  • use of the national ID card infrastructure (application of data from national databases, no need for roll-out of e-ticket carriers)
  • development of validation system
  • roll-out of the sales channel network


  • The sales network includes the internet ("ID ticket e-shop"), mobile and regular phone, automated sales machines ("ATM") and kiosks equiped with sales terminals ("assisted sales"). Via these channelscitizens can access the ticketing system. After payment, an ID ticket is created in the database (instantly).
  • Validation devices are hand-held terminals which are capable of offline and online ticket validation.

• The Tallinn City which offers its citizens the public transportation service (a ticket is “just” a confirmation of payment)
• Ticketing operator (Certification Centre Ltd.) offers the technical environment and transaction service (e.g. monthly card, 1 hour ticket)
• Banks offer the money transfer services, incl. internet banking and direct debit (automatic prolongation of tickets)
• Mobile service providers participate in the service and transactions via an m-commerce transcations cross-usage system which functions between operators


  • It took time to achieve trust on behalf of citizens (new system)
  • Power of habits: over half of ID-ticket users still prefer to purchase e-tickets from kiosks (assisted sales, payment in cash)
  • Hardware development issues (e.g. suitability of validation devices for the local climate)


The ticket is personalised (considers the unique personal code of the individual), its validity can be configured by the individual to start from a suitable date. For checking of ID-tickets, the inspectors are equipped with special hand-held terminals so they can instantly check on-site whether a person has a valid right to travel. Share of revenue generated by ID-tickets has constantly grown and accounts now for nearly 70 per cent of the municipal ticket income being regularly used by more than 120,000 persons.


Further information:

Collective passenger transport
Anu Leisner
Anu Leisner
fares - fare structure
planning - customer satisfaction
planning - ticketing
04 Sep 2007
29 Aug 2014