Department for Transport
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New technology could signal the end of the line for paper tickets

New technology could signal the end of the line for paper tickets

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 20 August 2009

Paper travel tickets could become a thing of the past under proposals announced by the Government today.

New technology, enabling mobile phones to double up as "swipe and go" cards and bank cards to be used to pay directly for journeys could revolutionise how travellers purchase and use tickets according to the new consultation.

The Government estimates that the benefits of universal 'integrated smart' ticketing could be as much as £2 billion per year through improved journey times and faster, more convenient and reliable purchasing and use of tickets, with benefits for local government and operators too.

Central to the vision is the implementation of smart ticketing infrastructure using the Government backed ITSO specification to allow seamless travel between, and within, cities and regions; and different modes of transport.

Some of the more innovative proposals could see electronic tickets or pre-pay credit loaded straight onto a mobile phone enabling it to be used as a ticket; or “contactless” payment which will allow ordinary bank cards to pay instantaneously for travel simply by being passed over a terminal, dispensing with the need for a ticket at all.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan said;

"Experience has shown that smart ticketing can be a key part of offering a 21 st century public transport system. And of course the easier it is to use public transport, the more people will do so, which is why I want to see a universal coverage of smart ticketing on all modes of public transport in England as quickly as possible.

"We know that passengers want quicker journeys and better reliability, and smart ticketing will help us do that. We could see the end to waiting in line at ticket machines, while buses could spend half the amount of time sitting at the bus stop waiting for people to board and looking for the right change. In some cases, direct payments may even do away with the need for a ticket at all.

"The technology and the interest is already out there and I want to see it used to not only help passengers but also reduce congestion, pollution, improve the local environment, and help local authorities plan more effective local transport systems."

The Government hopes that the Smart and Integrated Ticketing Strategy will build on the success already seen in London where 'Oyster’ smart cards are now used for 78 per cent of bus and tube journeys.

Jonathan Bray, Director of the Passenger Transport Executive Group Support Unit said:

"We fully share the Government's ambition to see smart ticketing introduced across Britain's largest urban areas as soon as possible. Oystercard has become intrinsic to London life - passengers have a right to expect a similar deal in the next tier of major urban areas.

"We look forward to continuing to work with Government on the reform of bus subsidies that's currently underway to help make this happen."

The key benefits of smart ticketing include:

Allowing passengers to load tickets or credit in advance of travel, speeding up boarding times and reducing queuing;Fraud and security. Smart tickets are far harder to replicate and can be electronically 'killed' the moment they are reported lost or stolen with any remaining balance refunded.Sophisticated rules can be applied to 'cap' an individual's cost of travelling at a certain level so that they will always pay the best ticket price possible for the journeys they actually make.Operators will be able to run their own loyalty schemes and offer ticket types to suit individual customers' needs.Joining up services through using smartcards for other products such as library membership, leisure centre entry, benefit entitlement, parking, bike and car hire, and even lift share arrangements

Notes to Editors

1. Developing a strategy for integrated and smart ticketing consultation paper can be found here The consultation closes on Friday 23 rd October. Consultation responses will feed into a full strategy to be published later in the year.

2. Today's publication builds on measures already put in place by the Government to support the implementation of smart and integrated ticketing. For example 'ITSO', which is both an organisation and specification for interoperable smart ticketing, has been created and sponsored by DfT to create a single specification for smart ticketing. All recently let rail franchises and new England-wide concessionary bus passes must be ITSO compatible and the government has announced the intention to pay a higher rate of Bus Service Operator Grant (BSOG) to operators which are equipped with operational ITSO smartcard readers.

3. Integrated ticketing can refer to a variety of different concepts, such as integration between different transport operators, integration between different modes of transport or even integration between transport and other types of goods or services.

4. Smart ticketing is the name given to the system where an entitlement to travel (or ticket) is stored electronically on a microchip rather than being printed on a paper ticket. In most smart ticketing schemes, the microchip on which a ticket is stored is embedded in a smartcard. For this reason, smart ticketing schemes are often known as smartcard schemes, although there is much more to the scheme than just the smart card.

5. There are a number of benefits derived from smart and integrated ticketing that can be quantified. The total benefits of widespread adoption and high take-up are estimated at up to £2.6 billionper annum. A breakdown of how this can be achieved is at p124 of the consultation document.

6. The organisation, ITSO Ltd, is an independent, not-for-profit company that was established by stakeholders with support from the Department in order to develop and maintain an open specification which would facilitate interoperable smart ticketing in the UK and potentially beyond.

7. The London Travelcard was introduced in 1983. Between 1982 and 1984 passenger kilometres on the underground grew by 44%.

8. Research commissioned by the department suggests that bus 'dwell time' could reduce by 50% if there was full take up of smart ticketing technology.

9. TfL found with the introduction of Oyster 35 passengers per minute could go through the ticket gates compared to 15 passengers per minute previously.

10. Experience in London from the introduction of Oyster in 2003 to the end of 2007 is a reduction of 59% from the 50 million paper tickets a month sold at the start of the period.

11. Nottingham Citycard is a contactless smart card and is issued free to all residents in Nottingham by Nottingham City Council. The card can be used for travel on buses as well as in libraries and leisure centres. 100,000 cards are now in regular use. A version of Citycard is also available for 11-17 year olds which is issued to children eligible for free school meals, this offers free travel if the individual attends a leisure provider.

12. The Cheshire Travelcard is an example outside of London of multi-operator commercial smart ticketing which can be used as a weekly or monthly travelcard, or as a prepay card which offers a 10% discount on cash fares.

13. Go North East have recently completed a successful trial of tickets that can be ordered by text.

14. Hong Kong's Octopus Card was the first major multi-modal, citywide contactless smart system in the world. 95% of those aged 16-65 within the region own one of the cards.

15. The 'Osaifu Keitai' product in Japan has 30 million users, and enables your mobile phone to act as a virtual wallet. It can act as a credit car, library card, cinema and transport ticket and virtual keys for your front door.

16. Mobile phones are becoming more and more widespread -approximately 90% of 15-64 year olds have use of a personal mobile phone.

17. pteg - the Passenger Transport Executive Group - brings together and promotes the interests of the six Passenger Transport Executives (PTEs) in England. Nottingham City Council, Strathclyde Partnership for Transport and Transport for London are associate members. pteg has two main tasks: promoting efficiencies and the exchange of knowledge and good practice within the PTE network, and raising awareness nationally about the key transport challenges which face the city regions, and the public transport solutions which PTEs are implementing.

18. Every Integrated Transport Authority (previously known as Passenger Transport Authorities) has plans to roll out a local ITSO smart ticketing scheme.

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