Thursday, June 09, 2016

Progress with multi-operator bus ticketing in Dundee

I was quoted in the Evening Telegraph and interviewed on Wave 102 yesterday welcoming the launch of multi-operator bus ticketing – now likely to take place later this summer – which will allow customers to use one bus smartcard to travel on both Xplore Dundee and Stagecoach buses.

The ability to use different operators’ buses with the same smartcard will be a great advantage to bus users across Dundee - constituents regularly complain that, having purchased a weekly or monthly bus pass from one bus operator, they can only use buses from that company.

The multi-operator bus ticketing in Dundee will greatly improve flexibility of bus use for passengers in the city.    As I understand it, the new system when introduced will allow passengers to store multi-operator tickets electronically on a smartcard rather than using paper tickets and will be able to travel on different buses using one smartcard.   This will also be better value for money, reducing the need to purchase multiple tickets.

The country’s major bus companies – Stagecoach, Xplore Dundee, Lothian Buses, McGill’s and First  – will deliver the smart ticketing on buses across the country during 2016-17.     Elsie Turbyne, Managing Director of Xplore Dundee, told me this week, “It is likely to be late summer.  I cannot commit to a final date until testing is complete.”

After introduction later in the summer for buses only, the project is expected to extend to rail, ferries and the Glasgow subway at a later stage.   Technical work on the scheme has already begun, building upon existing smart platforms already used by operators which conform to the UK-wide Government ITSO standard.     The longer-term goal is the full Scotland-wide Saltire Card scheme that will be developed and delivered by Transport Scotland, and which will enable customers to top up their smartcards with funds – similar to the way an Oyster card works in London.

The Saltire Card to hopefully mirror the functionality of the Oyster Card in London – to allow passengers to use one card that allows them to use different operators and different modes of travel – has been a long time coming to Scotland.    However, it is good to learn the first stage – a smartcard for buses that can be used on both Xplore Dundee and Stagecoach buses in the city – is a great step forward and will be a positive move for many Dundee bus users.