Transport Minister Norman Baker has approved Norfolk County Council’s (NCC) proposals for a demonstration project which will see smartcard technology rolled out to all county bus operators by 2015.
The project, costing up to £2.5m, will be paid for from funds which were announced last year as part of the Government push to get all buses in England smart enabled. Norfolk was chosen for the pilot because it provides a mix of rural and urban journeys and a range of operators. The pilot lasts for three years but will be evaluated throughout so that the benefits can be understood and used nationally before the end of the trial.
Norwich P&R will be one of the first services to use the new smartcards with a launch planned in early summer.
CBW understands operators are due to meet with NCC in the coming weeks to discuss the projects fine details. For example, First and konectbus already use smartcardenabled machines and AnglianBus has its own smartcard product.
The pilot will produce a series of outputs including: An evaluation of the benefits for passengers, local authorities and operators; Frameworks to procure services and supplies which other local authorities could use; Modular guidance for other local transport authorities to use; and a technical specification for smart equipment and support services suitable for use by smaller operators.
NCC’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation Graham Plant said: “This will help over 40 businesses operating over 700 vehicles to move to smartcards. It will generate confidence in the technology, and with the smartcard being accepted by all operators, achieve a step change in service integration for passengers.”