‘Oyster’ cards to be trialled on buses
BUS passengers across North Somerset could soon be able to pay for journeys with the use of an Oyster card-style smartcard.
Trials of a touchless payment scheme are set to begin later this year to allow commuters to pay for their travel using a card, similar to those used on public transport in London.
The West of England Partnership (WEP) scheme will allow passengers to travel across North Somerset, Bristol, Bath and South Gloucestershire, on different buses using the smartcard technology.
Although the scheme is primarily aimed at buses, a WEP spokesman said it could one day be extended to trains if it proves popular.
She said test runs will begin on park and ride services later this year and depending on their success, commuters could see smartcards introduced across the region next year.
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But passengers will still need to talk to drivers because the numerous different bus companies in the region mean a more complicated system is required, than is used for the Oyster card technology used in London.
The WEP spokesman said: “Every bus in operation will have to have a reader which is compatible with each other.
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“Most operators and passengers won’t notice any major differences at the moment while we are looking for glitches.
“If it goes wrong it will take longer than it will if it all goes right. We’d prefer it to go wrong now than later when it is universally rolled out.”
In December 2009 the Labour government allocated �2million of funding towards introducing the scheme in the South West.
Under the current WEP proposals, there will be four different smartcard zones across the South West, including the Weston Rider which will allow passengers to travel around large parts of North Somerset with a single ticket.
There will also be two Bristol zones and one for the whole Avon area. Concessionary tickets for pensioners and students will also be available.
The WEP spokesman added: “It is very likely that you will still have to talk to the driver and you will still probably get a ticket, unless we can encourage operators to do them at standard ticket rates.”