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Smart travel gains momentum across the country

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Initiatives announced to roll out smart tickets and contactless payment on public transport.

Transport Minister Baroness Kramer announced 3 initiatives today (26 March 2015) to accelerate the introduction of smart ticketing across the country.

At a meeting with the Smart Cities Partnership, the minister announced that over £620,000 will be invested over the next 2 years to extend smart ticketing across the rail network in the West Midlands. She also presided over the signing of a concordat that sets out the basis for cooperation between bus operators and members of the partnership to start delivering smart, multi-operator ticketing in 2015.

Separately, the minister announced that the government will be working with the UK Cards Association – the body representing the card payments industry – to bring contactless payment to public transport country-wide.

The association will lead a project to coordinate actions among card payment processors, card issuers as well as UK transport operators.

Baroness Kramer said:

Smart ticketing is revolutionising travel and is an important part of the transport investment which will help to build a stronger economy and fairer society. I am very pleased that it is gaining real momentum.

Implementing smart tickets involves close working across operators, administrative regions and industries. These 3 initiatives show how much can be done through partnership working. I wish to thank all parties involved for their commitment and innovation in driving forward these plans to make travel easier and more convenient for the public.

The Smart Cities Partnership consists of 9 city regions, representing the largest conurbations outside London including those in Yorkshire, West Midlands, Merseyside, Leicester and Nottingham.

With funding from the Department of Transport (DfT), it encourages joint working across the public and private sectors to speed up the implementation of smart multi-operator ticketing.

The £620,000 investment will enable Centro, West Midland’s integrated transport authority, to extend Swift smartcard to large areas in the West Midlands rail network and pave the way for the introduction of similar products in the future. Crucially, passengers will be able to use smartcards at the redeveloped Birmingham New Street station from September 2015.

Councllor John McNicholas, chairman of Centro, the public transport co-ordinator for the West Midlands, said:

I am delighted that our smart ticketing programme is to receive such a boost. It means we can start to roll out Swift across the local rail network at a time when train usage is at its highest in nearly a century. The ultimate winner though is the passenger, who will now have a smart ticket they can use across all forms of transport.

John Dowie, chair of the Smart Cities Partnership, said:

The signing of the concordat marks a successful year of engagement between cities, operators and DfT, which has seen the accelerated delivery of a number of multi-operator ticket schemes. It ‘banks’ the success to date and sets a solid foundation upon which pace can be maintained in delivering benefits to passengers. The project with the West Midlands is a great example of how, through partnership working and bringing together intelligence, existing systems, infrastructure and know how, we can accelerate successful delivery.

Melanie Johnson, chair of the UK Card Association, said:

Choice and speed of payment is important to customers and contactless cards offer greater convenience when you’re travelling by train or bus. Today’s news builds on the huge success of contactless payments on London transport, with the rapid uptake meaning it now accounts for one in seven of all contactless transactions in the UK.

The cards industry is pleased to be working with DfT on this new project which will boost the economy by reducing ticketing costs, delivering efficiency and harnessing the popularity of payment cards. We will be coordinating the collaborative effort on behalf of the card and transit industry including the card schemes, issuers and the payment businesses which enable transactions to take place, as well as transit operators.

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