The Sado River ferry connection for vehicles connecting Setubal city with the southern peninsula Tróia was in need
of an electronic charging system that could be a real alternative to the current cash and pre-paid cards currently
A-to-Be®, through Via Verde Portugal, designed and implemented the system, integrating with the existing billing
system of Atlantic Ferries. This allowed ferry users to benefit from the installed On-Board Unit (OBU) and use it as a
payment mean. The project was completed within 2-month period, including from requirements’ definition to the
The main connection done in Setúbal links the city where the larger populated areas are with the amazing beaches
along Troia’s peninsula. Seasonality is a concern for the Client, Atlantic Ferries, who needs to:
- Guarantee payment service availability during low season on both sides of the river;
- Assure maximum throughput during high season.
The first aspect implies considerable operational costs, while the second is limited to the human attendant
performance. One of the challenge was therefore to create an alternative payment method which would allow
service availability during the whole year and optimize the payment performance. Integration with the existing
central back office system was mandatory and was a critical point in the success of the end solution.
All these concerns created a set of demanding project objectives, including the tight schedule. Within a 2-month
period the entire solution had to be working, risking revenue and service otherwise.
Solution and results
Once A-to-Be®’s analysts and experts understood the payment process and the architecture underneath it, we
began designing the solution and preparing all components so that nothing fails.
The driver is given the choice to use the attended lane or the automatic one, where he declares his choice by setting
the number of passengers and vehicle type. Although we have vehicle classification algorithms supported by our
AVDC, it was decided to adopt a declared class instead. A ticket receipt is handed out to the driver, who then
proceeds to the ferry queue. Once there, a supervisor confirms the payment status using the generated code,
clearing him for boarding.
The vehicle owner no longer has to rely on a excessively complex card system, where individual cards were needed
for both the vehicle and the passengers. If you happened to have vehicles of different classes, even more cards
were involved and each card has to be paid by the customer. As a result, and since the system proved to be very
efficient and convenient for both Atlantic Ferries and their clients, as much as 2/3 of all rides were using the ETC
For Atlantic Ferries, new marketing possibilities are now open, since there is a well-defined client to whom
commercial advantages may be drawn and offered to, thanks to A-to-Be® for Public Transport and LinkBeyond™.