Fun with Flexus

Posted: 2009-11-02

Doesn't it seem strange that the new ticket system in Oslo seems to have parts that don't talk to each other?

Flexus is the new electronic ticketing system for Ruter and NSB in Oslo.

I use it for the simple reason that the new machines can accept payment via bank card - not cash - and the only local shop is often not open when I leave for work in the morning.

You load ticket(s) onto the card - and activate it when the previous one runs out. So - at any time you have some combination of expired tickets, one active ticket and non-started tickets.

The flexus user experience

This morning I loaded up a new month card - 550,- NOK. Validated at the same place - and it showed the ticket activated with a new end date - in one month. All fine.

After switching to a bus - I got a No valid ticket error.

Last time I had an error (Error Code 68) I had checked online at and found that the ticket was OK. So this time I checked again - no ticket activity for 2 days. No valid ticket.

So I called trafikanten on the phone. During this conversation I learned the following [^1]:

  • Trafikanten issued flexus cards have light grey serial number (NSB have black) - and that meant he had a chance to help me (seems that NSB issued flexus cards can only get help at NSB)
  • Error code 68 means invalid pin code (and neither I nor the person on the telephone could make any sense of that - flexus doesn't use pin codes).

But I didn't learn why I had seemingly lost a ticket.

So - I was asked to bring the card in to trafikanten in Oslo town centre.

Here - there was a queue system - only 52 people in front of me [^2].

And after a long wait - I was told [^1]:

  • You have a valid ticket - if he could see it - why couldn't the telephone operator?
  • Buses that have left the depot before you add the ticket to the card won't know about the ticket - since they have not been updated since leaving the depot
    • Follow up question - ticket inspectors can read the ticket from the card - in which case - why can't the bus?
  • The webpages can take up to 24 hours to show an update - how come the flexus system can know about the update in a timely manner but not the user interface?

For a new and supposedly modern system (even though there has been a lot of criticism and a fair few delays) - this seems at best cobbled together of bits that don't want to talk to each other.

Oh - and it seems like a very good idea to carry the receipt you get when you load the card with the card.

[^1]: I can only go on what I was told - I have no idea how much actually is how flexus works - but it does seem to match the days experiences. [^2]: I have to say that trafikanten in town did move throught the queue pretty fast.