ITSO Smart Ticketing the basics

Smart ticketing is the name given to the system where an entitlement to travel (or ticket) is stored electronically on a microchip rather than being printed on a paper ticket. In most smart ticketing schemes, the microchip on which a ticket is stored is embedded in a smartcard.

ITSO is the Government-backed organisation which defines and develops the UK-wide technical specification for smart ticketing which Yorcard works to.

The key benefits of smart ticketing include:
• Fraud and Security.
Smart tickets are far harder to replicate and can be electronically ‘killed’ the moment they are reported lost or stolen. Any remaining balance can be refunded.
• Improved passenger experience.
Passengers can load tickets or credit in advance of travel, speeding up boarding times and reducing queuing.
• Increased efficiency.
Product owners can access usage information without having to rely on operator returns.

Like all new systems there are new acronyms and terms to get your head around. To help you there are a few explanations below.

If you’re still confused, don’t worry, Yorcard will guide you through all your smart ticketing needs.

Action Listing


A process to carry out an action on a smartcard such as adding a product. The action and associated smartcard reference are placed on an Action List. The Action List can be sent to specific POSTs and the action is carried out when the smartcard is presented to an appropriate POST.

Card Production Bureau


A company which produces your smartcards for you.

Cardholder Management System (CMS)


A database holding your customer information including what smartcards each customer holds.



Means Electronic Ticket Machine. The on-bus machine used to record passenger travel.



The ITSO certified database which:

  • holds all transactions and transmits “not on us” transactions to other HOPS systems,
  • holds information about products, smartcards and ISAMS, and
  • manages Hot Lists and Action Lists.

Hot Listing


A process to block a product or smartcard. The product or smartcard is placed on a Hot List which is then prioritised and sent to the POSTs. The product or smartcard is blocked when the smartcard is presented to a POST where the product or smartcard is on the Hot List stored on that POST.



Means ITSO Product Entity. A ticketing product registered with ITSO.



The ITSO security module, like a SIM card in a mobile, it ensures the security of the whole system. Each POST is fitted (sometimes remotely) with an ISAM which holds the keys to all the products it can use.



Means ITSO Shell Reference number. The long number along the front of a smartcard.



Is the name for Yorcard’s back office processing system which generates reports and allows you to manage your scheme. 



Means Point Of Service Terminal. Put simply the ticket machines on buses (ETMs) and sales terminals in retail locations.

Stop Listing


The process of creating a list of products which need to blocked. This Stop List is not sent to POSTs and held in the HOPS.



Travel Concession Authority – a local authority or passenger transport executive.

Travel Money


A value which can be added to a smartcard which can only be used to purchase travel products.