A consortium of the UK’s biggest bus operators has announced plans to launch Oyster-style smart ticketing across England’s largest city regions.
Greater Manchester will be the first to see the roll-out of the Swift smart multi-operating ticketing scheme, which is already in use by nearly 30 operators in the West Midlands.
Tyne and Wear, Merseyside, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire along with the city regions of Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol will also see the system come into use during 2015.
In a joint statement, the chief executives of the companies involved – Stagecoach, First, Arriva, Go Ahead and National Express – said: “Millions of people in our biggest city regions will benefit from this transformational initiative in London-style smart ticketing. It will deliver an even bigger programme and wider benefit than the capital’s Oyster system.
“Bus operators share the aspirations of our city regions to become growing economic powerhouses and we know high-quality public transport is an important part of making that happen.”
The system uses a smartcard featuring an embedded microchip that electronically stores a pre-loaded ticket or travel credit. The stored information is transmitted to a card reader, using near-field communication (NFC) contactless technology, when the user swipes their smart card over it.
The multi-million pound investment will also allow smaller bus operators to get involved and will provide a platform that can be extended to other modes of transport such as trams and trains.
The joint statement added: “We have a shared responsibility to get the most benefit from our country’s buses, which are crucial to high streets up and down the country and are used by millions of people every day to access work, health, education and leisure.
“By working together, bus operators, local authorities and the government can make our buses even better. Crucially, our plans for smart ticketing can be delivered in a matter of months, rather than years of waiting and the unnecessary cost of wholesale changes to the way bus services are delivered.”