News story

Roll-out of smart ticketing will improve bus, rail and tram journeys for millions

Transport Minister Andrew Jones welcomes progress as biggest 5 UK bus operators announce contactless travel for all buses by 2022.

Smart ticket machine.

Millions of bus and rail passengers across the UK will in future be able to pay for their travel using contactless cards and devices as Transport Minister Andrew Jones today (12 January 2016) marked 3 major milestones to accelerate the introduction of smart-ticketing.

At a speech to the UK Cards Association, Andrew Jones will hail a smart ticketing tipping point and he will praise transport operators, the cards industry and city authority, supported by the Department for Transport’s Smart Cities Partnership (SCP), for prioritising the introduction of the new technology. Last year, the SCP brought together 9 city regions outside London to agree how best to introduce smart ticketing to make journeys easier for passengers travelling across different types of transport or on different operators.

Smart ticketing offers more convenience and flexibility for passengers, allowing seamless connections across different modes of transport and helping reduce ticket queues and crowding at transport interchanges. There are currently 700,000 smartcards in use in SCP cities.

Ahead of his speech, Transport Minister Andrew Jones said:

The smart ticketing revolution is helping to build a modern, affordable transport network that provides better journeys for everyone. By working together, industry, city regions and government have been able to ensure more and more people can use smart ticketing to get around. We are determined to continue driving progress so passengers get the quick and simple journeys that they want and deserve.

The work of the SCP has helped city regions to achieve the following:

  • the UK’s big 5 bus operators have announced they will bring contactless travel to every bus in Britain by 2022, with many areas benefiting sooner

  • the rail industry has agreed a tranche of funding and a new framework to explore how contactless payments could be introduced for rail season tickets or long-distance train travel, so passengers no longer have to print out tickets

  • Centro, West Midland’s integrated transport authority, backed by £620,000 of DfT funding, is extending the Swift smartcard across the region - in September 2015, passengers started using the Oyster-style cards at the redeveloped Birmingham New Street station and from next month Swift cards will work on buses, trams and trains in the area

  • city regions across the country have rolled out the technology including capped Nexus card travel in Tyne and Wear for affordable travel, and brand new multi-operator bus cards in Brighton and Manchester so passengers save time and money by using 1 card for all bus services in their city

The rail industry’s contactless ticketing framework follows DfT’s work with the UK Cards Association, which represents the card payments industry, and will look specifically at the benefits that could be offered by 3 different contactless transit models. These will cover Pay as You Go (PAYG) for set fares and also a PAYG model for multiple uses during a day or during a journey. A pre-purchase model will also be explored to replace paper tickets where a contactless card or device is associated with the ticket in advance and then used as a form of identity to travel.

The participating SCP local transport authorities across England include:

  • Centro
  • Leicester City Council
  • Merseytravel
  • Nexus
  • Nottingham City Council
  • South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive
  • Transport for Greater Manchester
  • West of England Partnership
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority

Supporting bus operators include:

  • Arriva
  • First Group
  • Go-Ahead
  • National Express
  • Stagecoach
  • Album – the Association of Local Bus Company Managers

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Published 12 January 2016