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Joining up public transport in South West England

12 November 2013  •  Author: Applied Card Technologies Limited

Public transport in South West England is being transformed through a partnership of local authorities and bus operators implementing smart ticketing across the region.

The smart ticketing initiative is joining up public transport throughout South West England. From the smallest transport operator to the largest, joining services together under a local smart card scheme is simplifying travel for visitors and local residents alike. Eventually, over 3,400 buses in South West England will accept smart cards for travel on their services.

The partnership operates through a member organisation called SWSAL (South West Smart Applications Limited), which provides a framework to deliver and manage smart transport ticketing in the region.

While members are free to implement smart ticketing schemes that best serve local needs, SWSAL makes it easy and cost effective for members to set up new schemes. In particular, SWSAL encourages the introduction of multi-operator smart cards, providing flexibility and choice for passengers.

Smart ticketing schemes are now being rolled out across the region to enable most public transport journeys to be undertaken using smart ticketing technology. Through joined up services, faster boarding times, and convenient ticket purchasing, passengers are already benefiting from the type of integrated transport system previously restricted to major cities.

Shared infrastructure and expertise

Andrew Seedhouse, Chairman, SWSAL added, “By sharing the technology infrastructure, SWSAL members have benefitted from lower costs and proven knowledge. This expertise and shared infrastructure has delivered ITSO transport tickets, eMoney and support services across the regional bus and rail transport network.”

Geoff Rumbles, Project Manager, SWSAL added “Minimising costs for our members was a key aim for SWSAL. ACT has been instrumental in the design and creation of an intelligent cloud ticketing and settlement service. The supporting infrastructure gives authorities and operators access to a shared platform that gives each authority independent control of any ticketing schemes they want to launch in their area.”

The flexibility each local member has to implement smart ticketing to most benefit their own local requirements has seen the launch of student combined travel and cashless payment schemes, integrated park and ride projects and collaboration on shared routes by local transport operators.

Gary Watts, CEO, ACT, commented, “We designed and delivered our cloud based ticketing and payment services so that authorities and operators can achieve economies of scale without losing the flexibility needed for local, tailored passenger ticketing and payment services. The SWSAL platform includes our CMS, HOPS ticketing transactions system, on-line ticketing and payment portals, sQuid eMoney fund management, and a network of Retail POSTs ®.

“This has been a very complex design brief to deliver against and has needed active, multi stakeholder involvement from local authorities, bus and rail operators, their advisors and SWSAL to deliver the interoperability needed for mass consumer adoption.”

Putting park and ride on the transport landscape

Increasing the use of park and ride is high on the agenda for many cities, and a convenient ticketing process is a key driver to increase their use, reducing congestion and carbon emissions. As part of the system roll out, Bath, Bristol, Norwich and Salisbury are all implementing smart ticketing for park and ride schemes to make this service as convenient and accessible as possible.

Student services

Students will also benefit from the project. Smart cards are being launched for travelling to and from college or university, buying lunch on campus and offering personalised discounts from local retailers and restaurants. In Torbay, collaboration between ‘same route’ transport operators has meant an end to waiting for a particular operator’s service; students are now able to hop on the first suitable bus, using their smart card to pay for the journey.

A model for integrated, regional travel

As all authorities and operators implement smart ticketing, eventually passengers should be able to travel all over South West England with a single interoperable smart card.

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