Case Study: Rav Kav Public Transportation App

and public transportation apps around the world

Public transportation systems around the world have been issuing fancy new plastic cards that get rid of the old paper tickets and store all your fares, and Israel is no different. ‘Rav Kav’ is the system used in Israel. On this card you have all your tickets from all different zones on it and it has an RFID chip on it which allows you to tap or swipe it to pay for your ride.

When I want to ride the public transportation system I know I’m not here for the first class experience, but any small changes that could really impact my experience would be doing tons. Now we’ve come along way but I want to highlight the shortcomings of this system, and a prototype that I think can at least address these few.

Areas to Improve

a. In order to get a Monthly ticket you must get a personal Rav Kav.

b. To get a personal card you must go to a Rav Kav office, which is usually located in a main bus station or train station.

Rav Kav: Israels public transportation smart card

c. You must get your picture taken and supply a couple documents to prove your identity.

d. You must also do this to change your ticket type, eg. from regular to student, or to senior citizen.

e. If you want to see details of what tickets you have on the card or past rides the only way to do this is get the driver to print out some sort of receipt (or use a sketchy Android app to scan your NFC which will give you very basic information of your card)

f. This is especially important as we have the four different metropolis areas with their own area, and then inside of them we have the different zones, and then there is the difference between the inter-city busses and the city busses, and if you happen to live in Jerusalem you have a different ticket for the light rail and the rest of the modes of transportation. (They are slowly fixing some of these issues, and have recently over hauled the system to make it much simpler to understand, but the point remains, there is no easy way to see all your different ticket in a nice easy fashion.

g. You’re never sure how much longer your ticket is valid for (especially the one-trip ticket(90 min). Or for that matter, we’re always forgetting if the monthly ticket starts from the date we purchased it or if we’re still using this silly system of starting from the 1st of the month no matter when you pay.

h. You can only fill up on the actual bus, the bus station, or the train station, and it’s usually only when the bus is full and there is a huge line behind you, or you’re running for that train and have exactly 45.6 seconds to catch it.

Is there a better way?

To be fair these new plastic cards have already simplified to a great deal the old system, but in todays world we already carry a card in our pocket and it can do way more things than this little plastic card. Why don’t we use them? They have all the components we need already, it’s basically a computer, it has a screen, most smartphones in the last couple years have an NFC chip inside of them, and we also have GPS if we want to use that as well.

I’ve gone ahead, looked at all the little problems that we have to deal with today and I started designing a new app that would be able to solve most of these issues. I’m sure more will crop up with time, and systems will change and render some of these fixes obsolete, but we’ll deal with those when the time comes. In the meantime I want to share some screens of the app I have put together.

To be clear this design focusses on answering one question.

What would the ultimate Rav Kav ticketing experience look like?

There are a lot of things going on, but I want to address a few of the more interesting parts of this design.

The Experience

When you log in you are straight away greeted with an interface to add in your PayPal/Google Wallet/CC or other forms of digital payment. This means you are able to pay, and keep an automatic monthly subscription going without have to fish around for coins while holding a whole bus up.

We now have a profile page that stores all your relevant information. No having to go to a station and prove your identity. This is an online account, that stores your online information. Your app is on your phone. We don’t need to worry about insuring your cards and retrieving your tickets if you lose your plastic cards because this is all stored on your phone, and locked by your phone, and if you misplace your phone, you are able to download the app, login from another phone and retrieve your account, even revoking access to your old device.

Your profile also stores your age and account type, and if you want to update your information, let’s say to a student, you take a picture of your student ID card from wherever you are, it will then be verified automatically, or if it has difficulties, it will send that to be manually verified. your profile will be updated and so will your tickets prices in the app.

If you’re a soldier you can do the same thing, and now it’s automatic, you scan your ID card, it picks out the expiry date, and now you scan your phone just like everyone else. Your Rav Kav is now automatically loaded with the tickets that you are allowed to travel with and you don’t have to carry around your special army ID card anymore.

Each card is now shown with all its detail, you get to see how your ticket type, when you bought it, it’s history, when it expires. You can now auto-renew your card and you can even gift any ticket to a friend.


There is a lot more work to be done here and this is a start, I want to get the ball rolling, I want people to see new ways to improve on our current system and would love to see some of these solutions being developed. This system is by no means just for Israel, this should be replicated all around the world, hopefully merging all forms of public transportation into a simpler and more enjoyable ride.

If you enjoyed this please press the green heart. If you have some great ideas and would like to contribute, I would love to hear from you!!

Enjoy your ride :)