Sunday, April 27, 2014

Progress with the 'Saltire Card'

Back in October 2012, I called on Dundee City Council to be at the forefront in progressing the Scottish Government’s “Saltire Card” by offering to be a pilot site for the proposed Scottish equivalent of the Oyster Travel Card that has been a huge success for public transport in London.   There is a real need to make public transport as accessible as possible and having a card that passengers can use for travel on trains, different bus operators and other public transport is essential to make travel easier and possibly cheaper.

The council took up the role as lead authority in moving the “Saltire Card” forward and I recently asked council officers for an update on progress.   I was advised as follows by the council's National Entitlement Card Development Manager:
The Bursary Travel Product is now live with Dundee College and has been extended to all students wishing to participate who are in receipt of a travel Bursary as well as for those who would like to purchase the product themselves.   The evaluation was very heartening with the headline being " 90% of students said they are more likely to go to college even if they have no money that day."

The National Express weekly smart ticket is also now available to all citizens via the National Entitlement Card and having an NEC makes it easier for them to sign up to this smart product. The partnership working with National Express continues to grow and we are currently hoping to implement smart travel for Modern Apprentices who are entitled to support for travel to and from work.   Anticipated implementation for this is to coincide with National Modern Apprenticeship Week - 19th May.   We are hoping for a joint launch between the council and National Express.   We continue to work with Stagecoach although there has been little progress with this as yet.
All the above fall within the Smart and Integrated Ticketing Workstream of the Scottish Cities Alliance and Dundee City Council continues to lead this, adding more smart travel projects from the wealth of ideas we have accrued.   Other possibilites of course include Staff Travel as well as schools transport.
As an aside we are also shortlisted for an OSCA for the Bursary Travel Project in the Improving Services through partnership working category.
In response, I indicated that the concept of the Saltire Card  was to allow all citizens to have a Scottish equivalent of something like the Oyster card to enable them to use different modes of public transport (I am thinking primarily of trains and buses) and different transport providers using the same payment card.  

The progress is welcome but it’s a long way short of allowing all citizens to use a card as flexible and useful as the citizens of (for example) London have.    I pointed out the flexibility of these cards in cities across the world - a great example being Melbourne's Myki card, which is very easy for visitors as well as residents to use across various modes of travel.

I thereafter received further clarification as follows:
You are correct that the idea is to use the NEC / Saltire Card are the basis for integrated ticketing across Scotland. Transport Scotland's Smart and Integrated Ticketing Strategy is driving this forward from the main transport objective.

The Cities Alliance Smart and Integrated Ticketing Workstream, which Dundee leads, will be the main deliverer of this and has just approved 4 Project Manager posts to roll out smart travel across the City Regions. It is still some way off yet but the good news is that we have proven here in Dundee that commercial products can be added to the NEC and the partnership working gains strength from using a nationally available smartcard for national travel products. The smart application is there - what needs to come now is the integrated part and that as I say lies within Transport Scotland's accountability.
(Their website) provides more details of their plans.
You will see that Transport Scotland is including the development of a visitor card which will be akin to the Myki Card. That will of course need the basis in place on the NEC before that can come and Transport Scotland's role in that is crucial.