Scottish operators commit to multi-operator smart ticketing

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Lothian Buses is one of five operators in Scotland which has committed to the multi-operator smart ticketing initiative. STEVE HODGSON
Lothian Buses is one of five operators in Scotland which has committed to the multi-operator smart ticketing initiative. STEVE HODGSON

Bus operators across Scotland have outlined a commitment to deliver multi-operator smart ticketing.

The pledge was made by First, Stagecoach, Lothian Buses, McGill’s and XPlore Dundee and aims to deliver smart ticketing on buses across the country during 2016-17.

The operators also confirmed that the project is expected to extend to rail, ferries and the subway in the near future.

Technical work on the scheme has started, building upon existing smart platforms already used by operators which conform to the UK-wide Government ITSO standard.

The first phase of the project will see smart ticketing made available to around three quarters of the Scottish population over the course of 2017. This will be done through the launch of interoperable, bus-to-bus, smart ticketing across Scotland’s largest cities (Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh) and the surrounding areas, with delivery of these schemes already under way.

Once in place, customers will store multi-operator tickets electronically on a smartcard and will be able to travel on different buses using one smartcard.

As well as these city schemes, Scotland’s major operators have also pledged to support the introduction of a single standard e-purse, a Scotland-wide ‘Saltirecard’ scheme which will be developed and delivered by Transport Scotland, and will enable customers to top up their smartcards with funds – similar to the way an Oyster card works in London. A common Saltirecard logo will be displayed on the smartcards.

Fiona Kerr, Chairman of the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) in Scotland and Managing Director of First Bus in Scotland, said: “The four multi-operator schemes already being developed are an important first step in delivering smart joined up ticketing across Scotland for our customers.

“With 80% of all public transport journeys in Scotland made by bus, we’re working closely together as an industry to give our passengers what they want.

“The Scottish bus industry is being clear today in our commitment to transforming how our customers pay for their travel. Delivering smarter, faster, integrated travel will save them both time and money, and will complement our existing smart and mobile ticketing offerings which are available across all of our bus networks in Scotland.”

Derek Mackay, Scottish Minister for Transport and Islands, said: “The use of Smart technology, using one card to fulfil many purposes, forms part of the Scottish Government’s long-term vision that all journeys on Scotland’s bus, rail, ferry, subway and tram networks can be made using some form of smart ticketing or payment.

“This announcement is great news for public transport users across Scotland as it sees the bus industry on the cusp of delivering multi-operator ticketing and paves the way for multi-modal ticketing. This will offer passengers increased flexibility and value for money while reducing the need to purchase multiple tickets, while also using a common Saltirecard branding making it easily identifiable.

“I am delighted that our commitment to partnership working has produced such good results, and pleased that bus operators’ investments are being coordinated to make multi-operator and multi-modal tickets possible.

“The Scottish Government will play its part in this partnership – working in consultation with the operators, Transport Scotland will procure the national Scottish  e-purse to support this initiative.”