Public transport smart card scheme planned

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LONDON-style travel passes are set to be introduced in South Yorkshire next year under plans being discussed next week by transport chiefs.

The Yorcard scheme, similiar to the capital’s Oyster Card, would be available for bus, train and tram passengers, who would use smart cards which could be topped up in advance to pay for journeys, rather than cash.

A report to councillors who sit on the South Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority said: “Users will be able to store e-money on their Yorcard and purchase single tickets with their card.”

The Government granted £4.4 million last year to pay for the costs of establishing a back office to manage the Yorcard scheme, which will operate in South and West Yorkshire.

Now work is going ahead with 30 public transport operators so that they can install equipment capable of reading the cards.

Bus companies are being encouraged to participate because the Government is offering an eight per cent increase in its annual grant to operators if they equip their fleets to take smart cards.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive is searching for a simple type of machine which can be fitted to vehicles.

Meanwhile, Stagecoach is currently fitting equipment to all its vehicles to be brought into use next year.

First have placed an order for smart ticket machines to be installed in South Yorkshire next year and the company also plans to allow passengers to pay on board by swiping their credit or debit cards.

“The intention is to issue smart tickets by April 2012,” the report added.

Passengers aged 16 to 18 will have their discount travel passes replaced with a version of the Yorcard in April.

Day passes will be sold as smart cards and the full pay as you go scheme should begin by the end of next year.