Merseytravel hits smart ticketing milestone

News stories are free to read. Click here for full access to all the features, articles and archive from only £8.99.
The Walrus card is usable on both Arriva and Stagecoach services in Liverpool. GARETH EVANS
The Walrus card is usable on both Arriva and Stagecoach services in Liverpool. GARETH EVANS

Growth expected to accelerate as network coverage and ticketing options on the service grow

Merseytravel’s smart ticketing scheme – already the most active outside London – has reached a major milestone with a million tickets sold on Walrus cards since the service was launched in November 2014.

It is estimated that more than 40% of new UK smart cards issued during the last 12 months have been Walrus cards. Tickets currently available in ‘smart’ format are pre-paid weekly and adult four-weekly Solo tickets which can be used on any bus across Merseyside, and Saveaways – an off-peak day ticket for buses, trains and ferries.

Walrus cards can be topped up at around 800 PayPoint outlets across Merseyside, which has more than doubled the number of places from which Saveaways can be purchased and has significantly increased the availability of Solos, which were originally available from 50 outlets.

There are plans for more tickets to go ‘smart’ on the Walrus card later this year including some commercial operators’ weekly bus tickets, subject to the ‘Bus Alliance’ – a partnership between Merseytravel, Arriva and Stagecoach – being formally agreed.

In the next 12 months, there are plans for Merseyrail tickets to move to Walrus and for the introduction of carnet tickets for bus travel. These will allow people to load a number of tickets on their cards for use on non-consecutive days, making them particularly suitable for part time workers who may not get the best value out of weekly tickets.

Cllr Liam Robinson, Chairman of Merseytravel, said: “To go from no commercial smart ticketing scheme to one million ticket sales in just 15 months is incredible.

“What makes it even more of an achievement is that Walrus has been available right across Merseyside for less than a year, with Saveaway – the first ticket to go smart – on a Wirral-only trial up until March 2015.

“Walrus is now the most active smart ticketing scheme outside London, yet we are still very much in the infancy of what is possible. Working with operators, we will, this year, broaden the ticket choice available, hand in hand with simplifying fare structures and zones to make it easier for people to tell whether the ticket they are buying is the best value of them.

Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “Our progress and achievements with Walrus to date will feed into the work being carried out by Transport for the North to ultimately aid seamless travel across the North.

“The success of Merseyside’s Walrus card shows customers value smart ticketing that makes their lives easier. We will continue to support Merseytravel as they increase the range of tickets available on the card this year.

“Smart ticketing is a key part of our plan to build a Northern Powerhouse and the Walrus card is a shining example that I want to see other areas follow.”