TfGM’s smart ticketing still expected before 2016 despite contract termination

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Bus and tram passengers in Manchester could have access to integrated smart ticketing by the end of the year despite a change in supplier, according to a report from Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

The news follows the termination of a contract with key supplier Atos in August, which was ended by mutual agreement. The ‘get me there’ scheme, which was introduced to Metrolink concessionary pass holder in October last year, will continue its development and rollout with alternative supplier.

So far, ‘get me there’ is being used by 500,000 concessionary pass holders, making 60,000 smart journeys per week.

In a joint statement, TfGM and Atos said: “TfGM contracted Atos in 2012 to design, build and operate a smart ticketing system for Greater Manchester to be rolled out initially on Metrolink and with options to roll the system out subsequently to bus and rail.

“Although the system is currently operational for use by our 500,000 concessionary card holders, after a considerable period of delay it has become clear that Atos cannot deliver the smart ticketing system as contracted.

“Therefore, the parties have decided that it is in their best interests to agree to a mutual termination of the contract, on commercial terms, the details of which, remain confidential between the parties, but which provide substantial compensation to TfGM in respect of the costs incurred and which will enable TfGM to develop a smart ticketing system with alternative providers.

“Atos are collaborating with TfGM to ensure that the existing services are maintained and transitioned to new providers.”

A TfGM spokesperson added: “The world of technology is moving faster than any of us could have anticipated, and nowhere else is this more true than with smart ticketing.

“Today’s smart card already looks destined to be overtaken by contactless payments and mobile apps on smart phones.”

Revised plans for TfGM’s smart travel include the following key developments.

On Metrolink:

  • Introducing a smart phone app, enabling passengers to buy and download Metrolink tickets through their smartphone. TfGM did highlight that mobile ticketing is already offered by some bus companies.
  • Upgrading of the network’s 250-plus ticket machines so people can use contactless bank cards to buy printed tickets.

On bus, TfGM said it would support the principal UK bus operators’ (Arriva, First and Stagecoach) introduction of smart ticketing in Greater Manchester, by enabling passengers to load a range of pre-paid travel cards onto smartcards for use on bus services across Greater Manchester and assisting smaller bus companies in being involved in smart ticketing future too by ensuring they have the right on-board kit and back-office connections.