Electronic Farebox

So this is it. This is the console of the bus fare system that I have been working on for the past 151 calendar days. It is a system comprising of RFID (radio frequency id) tag with antenna and a computer chip buried in a plastic card the size of a credit card. It is a stored-value card that carries actual money in electronic form. We limit the cash to $25 in case you lose your card. If someone finds your card, it is exactly like finding money.

To start the day, the bus driver logs in by tapping his ID card on the farebox. The driver information, bus information, and route information is written into the system registry from the driver's card. Then the passengers come into the bus, and tap their card on an electronic farebox near the door. The farebox electrifies the chip, queries the data on the chip, sends it to the driver's console pictured above where the fare is subtracted. If there is enough money on the card, the big green check mark becomes visible for one second, and the number of fares left on the card is displayed. If not, the stop sign is shown.

The little lights are for normal communication over Bluetooth with the farebox, and the red signals that the console is sending all of the fare information back to our big computer system at the office. The "X" comes on if the transmission is interupted.
When a passenger taps his or her card, much information is recorded -- the time of day, the bus, the driver, the card number etc etc. And our company does not sell this system, we rent it out and get a very small percentage of the fare, however spread over a year, it amounts to a lot of money.

It is very gratifying for me, because I designed this system from start to finish. Last October, I sketched this out on the back of a Starbucks napkin to our president who was visiting up north for a conference. I was not part of the company yet. The company hired me to build out the system. They gave me shares in the system. It has been a remarkable experience for me. My shares were recently valued. They have grown significantly in value since this project began.

This has been a very worthwhile project for me, and it is immensely satisfying to see your scribblings on the back of a napkin actually working on the streets of a tropical paradise.

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