Scheme for smarter travelling speeded up

Travellers could soon be able to obtain a credit card-sized smartcard allowing them to use buses, trains and trams across Britain, Transport Minister Norman Baker said yesterday.

Mr Baker said he had ordered officials to draw up plans to introduce the cards – based on London's Oyster card scheme – "within a few years", in order to encourage use of public transport.

Ultimately, the goal would be to allow seamless travel on one ticket throughout the country, although Mr Baker accepted that including long-distance rail journeys in the scheme may be complicated.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

It is intended that the cards would be topped up in shops, online or by phone, with fares automatically deducted by card-reading technology on buses and trains.

The cost of the scheme would be met by private bus and rail operators.

Mr Baker told the Sunday Express: "The aim is that you get one smartcard ticket which enables you to use it whether you are in Bristol on the bus, on the Tube in London or in Newcastle on the Metro."

Enabling people to make all their journeys on the same card would give them "more confidence" to use public transport and would cut the administrative costs connected to selling tickets, making travel cheaper, he said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"It won't be overnight, but I've asked my officials to bring forward the old target date of 2020 to within a few years," said Mr Baker.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "The coalition Government is considering a range of new ideas to modernise our transport system and make it greener and more efficient. The Secretary of State will set out final proposals on these areas in due course.

"Smart card technology can play a key role in improving the passenger experience by making it easier and quicker to buy and use tickets.