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Smartcard plans are just the ticket

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport has taken a major step forward in bringing next generation smart ticketing to public transport services across the region.

Following an EU tendering process, SPT will participate in a joint venture with a market-leading smart technology firm Ecebs. The new company will be tasked with delivering a cashless, multi-modal, multi-operator transport card and introducing it on the Glasgow Subway in 2013, well before the Commonwealth Games.

It is anticipated that the system will also be rolled out across other modes of transport, creating seamless travel on bus, rail, Subway and ferry services. SPT’s ZoneCard ticket could also become a smartcard to replace the traditional paper ticket that has successfully joined up journeys in Strathclyde for over 20 years.

The joint venture and grant funding arrangements were agreed at a meeting of SPT’s Partnership board today (Friday, 15 April).

East Kilbride-based Ecebs, part of the Trainline Group (the largest internet ticket retailer in the UK), are currently working with Transport for London and the Newcastle Metro on similar projects.

The new company will bring together significant expertise to develop a system that will simplify the purchase and top-up of smart tickets through convenient sales outlets, vending machines and retailers.

Payments may be made by cash, bank transfer or debit/credit card or via the internet. With the further development it is likely that the scheme will become available on mobile phones, making cashless travel even easier to access.

It is also planned that the smartcards will act as an e-purse for convenience purchases such as snacks, leisure activities and newspapers/magazines.

By forming a joint venture company, passengers can be assured of a trusted, secure system of managing transactions, independent of any one transport operator and using the latest technology.

SPT Chairman Jonathan Findlay said: “You only have to look at how successful London’s Oyster card has been to see the real benefits of smartcard ticketing to passengers. However, their buses and underground are run entirely by one entity – Transport for London. The challenge for us is to bring in a system that can be utilised not just by the Subway and its passengers, but by all passengers on all transport operators’ services across the deregulated transport industry.

“Smartcards have the most benefit where secure, speedy transactions need to be carried out so where better to start implementing them than the Glasgow Subway where services are frequent and journeys are short?

“It has been proven in many major cities worldwide that a simple, fully-flexible, cashless ticket encourages people to use public transport and reduces their journey time through stations. This announcement shows just how committed we are to achieving that.”