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Smart ticketing powers on, in Greater Manchester

Bus and tram passengers could be travelling smart and using get me there before the end of the year, a report published today says.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) pledged its commitment to smart ticketing following the termination of a contract with key supplier Atos in August.

Now members of the TfGM Committee are to be updated with revised plans for ‘smart’ travel, which include key developments.

On Metrolink:
• Introducing a smart phone app, enabling passengers to buy and download Metrolink tickets through their smartphone. ‘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:
• Supporting 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 travelcards onto smartcards for use on bus services across Greater Manchester.
* assisting smaller bus companies in being part of the smart ticketing future too by ensuring they have the right on-board kit and back-office connections.

The report also details a strategic Memorandum of Understanding signed by TfGM, South Yorkshire PTE and West Yorkshire Combined Authority to support the development of smart ticketing in the North – a key element of the Transport for the North programme.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “We know how disappointed everyone was to hear the news last month but it was not a decision that was taken lightly.

“It certainly hasn’t stopped us pressing ahead so I’m pleased to be able to set out today some of the progress that’s being made on passenger-facing benefits.

“These initiatives will benefit tram and bus passengers and will make these travel choices more appealing options in future.
“I repeat TfGM’s commitment to delivering this vision as soon as is practicable. Our plan is to make travel in Greater Manchester easier and the over-arching smart ticketing programme will be refreshed over the next few months so we can give passengers confidence that smart ticketing is progressing in Greater Manchester.

“That piece of work will enable us to take advantage of new opportunities in technology and other significant developments, such as devolution and Transport for the North, which have come to pass since the original smart programme was launched.
“This report is a confirmation of our commitment to delivering smarter ways for people to travel in Greater Manchester.”

Building on the smart ticketing discussions that have taken place since 2011, TfGM has been working with the three largest bus operators – Arriva, First and Stagecoach – as well as multi-operator travelcard provider SystemOne, to include get me there in their smart ticketing plans.

The result is passengers will soon be able to load an initial range of pre-paid multi-operator bus travelcards onto a get me there card or an operator’s smartcard and then simply touch in as they board their bus.

The get me there Metrolink app will allow passengers to buy and download a range of e-tickets onto their smartphone before they board, instead of having to queue for a printed ticket.

Details for passengers of how the systems will work – and what tickets and travelcards will be available – will be publicised as the schemes are rolled out by operators and TfGM.

The update to next Friday’s committee follows on from the termination of TfGM’s contract with Atos.

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Editor at large, SalfordOnline.com