BUS passengers in a Welsh city are to become the first outside London to use pre-paid smart cards to travel.
The passes, which are similar to London’s Oyster cards, will be introduced by Newport Bus on Monday. They will be available in weekly, monthly and annual card types and will work by being held against the bus ticket machine.
A top-up card allowing passengers to add a minimum of £5 credit to their cards via mobile phone will be launched next month, the company said.
Chris Blyth, managing director at Newport Transport, which runs Newport Bus, said the move is intended to encourage more people to use buses.
“We are delighted to be the first bus operator in the UK to launch this kind of commercially available smart card.
“If we want to encourage more people to use buses then we need to make it as convenient and flexible as possible and purchasing a ticket is a key part of this,W he said.
“By becoming the first bus operator in the UK to launch an Itso (Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation) compliant commercial smart card we are putting our customers in control of their journey needs.”
Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones welcomed the move: “This is an important step in the development of an all Wales transport entitlement card and I am delighted that Newport Transport has made the move to smart cards. The Welsh Assembly Government has ensured that the back office for the concessionary fares smart card scheme has the capacity for an all-Wales transport entitlement card and we welcomed the opportunity to work with Newport Transport to assist the transition to Itso smart cards.
“Itso enables the Welsh Assembly Government and all of the 22 local authorities to offer a more flexible transport system for our citizens, reducing costs, improving efficiency and offering travellers throughout Wales an improved travel experience.”
Rhys Evans, deputy senior director of Consumer Focus Wales, used the announcement to renew calls for an all-Wales smart card to cover all forms of public transport.
He said: “Anything that makes it more convenient for consumers to travel in a sustainable way is to be welcomed. I would hope that this development will be the start of a more comprehensive integrated system, not an end in itself.
“Consumers want to travel from where they are to where they need to be – that doesn’t always fit with a single company, or a single mode of transport.
“The vision for consumers has to be that in the future Newport Bus will be able to work with other operators to ensure that consumers across Wales will be able to use the full range of public transport options, run by different companies, so that their journey is simple and convenient.”
The announcement comes a month after Cardiff council’s executive member for transport Delme Bowen said Cardiff would become the first place in Wales to offer the new system.
Yesterday, a Cardiff Council spokesman insisted the process of introducing smart cards was “not a race”.
“These are both welcome developments and Cardiff will have a Smart Card scheme later in the year and we will monitor what’s happening in Newport.”
You can order such smart cards in Perfect Cards company.