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Support for SPT’s “smart ticketing” vision

SPT’s vision for a “smart ticketing” system for public transport has been supported by campaign group Transform Scotland.

Smart tickets, such as London’s Oyster card, allow passengers to use one plastic card to make journeys on different types of public transport.

The card is loaded with cash in advance and can also be automatically topped up from a bank or credit card account.

Work to introduce Oyster-style smart cards on the Glasgow Subway by summer 2013 is under way and SPT’s ambition is to see the system extended to include seamless travel on bus, rail and ferry services.

Transform Scotland, which promotes public transport use, believes a Scottish Oyster equivalent would make life much easier for passengers.

SPT’s Assistant Chief Executive (Operations) Eric Stewart also expects the system will lead to increased passenger numbers, benefiting commuters and operators.

He said: “If you look at the Oyster example in London, there’s been a huge increase in bus usage, a huge increase in Tube and rail usage. There’s absolutely no reason we can’t do exactly the same in Scotland.”

SPT’s smart ticketing system will rely on technology provided by the East Kilbride company, Ecebs. Work there is already ahead of schedule.

The firm’s managing director, David Burdett, said: “The heart of the system is in place, the operational systems are tried and tested and everyone agrees that a smartcard for Scotland makes sense.

“By delivering it quickly and efficiently to the entire SPT area we hope to demonstrate to others what can be achieved.”

The technology needed to operate an integrated ticketing system is already in use on buses across Scotland. It is used to provide the Scottish government’s concessionary transport scheme for older and disabled people.

A spokeswoman for Transport Scotland said: “Having equipped the entire Scottish bus fleet with smart-enabled ticketing equipment, we have a substantial platform from which to accurately reimburse operators and to support the delivery of commercial smart and integrated ticketing.

“We aim to capitalise on our £40m investment in smart ticketing on buses by working with organisations such as SPT in their plans to develop smart and integrated ticketing across modes.”

About 43 million Oyster cards have been issued since they were launched in 2003 and Oyster has eight million regular users.

Figures show that about 80% of all journeys on public transport in the London area are made by passengers using Oyster cards.