Rav-Kav travel card is leaving the station, replaced by apps, bracelets

The new system will monitor how users travel and will choose the cheapest option based on their travel at the end of each month.

Rav Kav 521 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Rav Kav 521
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The Rav-Kav transportation card will be losing its relevance in April, as new applications will begin allowing public transportation users to pay with their phone instead. While the card will still work, the apps will most likely be worth the switch, according to The Marker.
The current system allows users to charge their Rav-Kav with either a stored value or a contract. The stored value is used like a debit card on buses and trains, with each trip withdrawing the price of a ticket from the stored value. Contracts come in a variety of forms and are based on time and area, with options for monthly, weekly and daily contracts covering trains and buses in cities, regions or the entire country.
The new system will monitor how users travel and will choose the cheapest option based on their travel at the end of each month. If, for example, a user travels multiple times between multiple cities throughout the month, the payment application will charge the user for a monthly contract in the region he traveled. If, however, the user only travels between two cities or with multiple types of transport on one day, the application will charge them for a day contract in that area.
With the advent of the new applications, public transportation users will need to open up the app after getting on a bus or intercity train, choose which form of public transport they’re on and then scan a QR code that will be placed on every bus and train that will let the app know which line they’re on, according to Calcalist. The user will then need to indicate how long they’re planning on traveling on the line in order to be charged the correct fee. The app will then provide a payment confirmation, which users can show to inspectors if they’re asked to prove that they paid.
Many Haredim in Israel do not use smartphones, meaning that they will not be able to use the new applications. An official in the Ministry of Transportation told the Haredi Bizzness news site that bracelets are being developed for those in the Haredi community that don’t use smartphones. The ministry is also developing solutions in order to provide the Haredi community with the same discounts and solutions that will be provided for smartphone users. It is unclear if the bracelets will be ready by April.
The switch to payment applications will also save the state money as the government will no longer need to pay the fee it currently pays to stores where users can recharge their Rav-Kav. The fee amounts to about 3% of every payment or charge of the card, amounting to about NIS 100 million in payments every year. The fees that will be paid to the companies providing the payment applications will be much lower, according to The Marker.
The companies aren’t expected to get any direct profit from the payment applications, but they will be able to earn revenue indirectly such as by recommending relevant services for public transportation users including Bubble taxis by the Dan company, rental scooters and taxis.
One of the applications that will be used in the new system is Discount Bank’s Paybox app, that currently allows smartphone users to transfer money through the app. The Moovit public transportation app and the Pango parking app will also be used in the new system. The Isracard company will also develop a payment app for the new system, according to Calcalist. The apps are currently on contract with the National Public Transport Authority for a year, with an option to extend the contract to five years.
The National Public Transport Authority is also planning on developing its own application for the new system, which will also allow users to receive updates on issues and delays and allow users to file complaints and rate bus drivers, according to Bizzness.
“One of the most frustrating things for travelers is to stand at a station and to not know that the bus isn’t coming,” said Uri Appelbaum, the Senior Director for Projects & Technologies at the Ministry of Transportation, to Calcalist. “We will change this and the moment that there’s a delay in the public transport method chosen, the traveler will be offered alternatives.”
Bizzness did raise the question why the Ministry of Transportation doesn’t just implement a system allowing users to pay directly by credit card and have the calculations happen in the same way as they would with the app, but without the need for an app or bracelets. Users can already pay by credit card for trips on Israel Rail and will eventually be able to pay by credit card on buses in Eilat. It is unknown why a system using smartphone applications was chosen over credit cards.
The new payment applications will not work on the light rail train in Jerusalem, according to Kol Hair Jerusalem, a local news source. Light rail passengers will have to continue using the Rav-Kav.