By Michael Moore
Paying for travel around the United Kingdom could be made easier with the introduction of a proposed nationwide contactless system similar to that of London's Oyster card.
The plans aim to introduce contactless payments on buses and trains all over the country in a bid to simplify how customers purchase and use tickets, and could signal the end of paper tickets for good.
Government support has now been secured for the network, which is the brainchild of the UK Cards Association (UKCA), and could see buses and trains kitted out with the new technology within the next year.
Tap and Go
The UKCA, which represents the card payments industry, has worked with a number of partners in the transport sector to develop a new framework which sets out how contactless cards can be used to pay for pay-as-you-go journeys. Similar to London's current network, this could include single trips, such as a bus journey, or combined travel on more than one type of transport.
The country's rail operators have also provided a significant investment to fund a joint project between the card and rail industry exploring how contactless cards and devices could be linked to long-distance train tickets or season tickets, meaning passengers would no longer have to print out tickets.
"The smart ticketing revolution is helping to build a modern, affordable transport network that provides better journeys for everyone," said Transport Minister Andrew Jones.
"By working together, industry, city regions and government have been able to ensure more and more people can use smart ticketing to get around. We are determined to continue driving progress so passengers get the quick and simple journeys that they want and deserve."
If London's reception to contactless travel systems is anything to go by, the new system could take off in a big way around the U.K. Figures released by TfL in June claimed that more than 1.2 million contactless transactions are made every day on its network, making it possibly the biggest market for contactless technology in the world.
"Payment cards play a key role in our lives and we believe this work contributes to making public transport more convenient for millions of passengers," said Melanie Johnson, chair of The UK Cards Association.
"Our collaborative project with the transport industry aims to transform the way customers pay for their travel and supports the Government's objectives.
"This framework sets out how contactless payments can be used to support any journey, whether a single bus ride or a cross-country trip. It is pleasing so many people from different organizations and industries have joined us today to mark the collaborative achievement. We are excited we have been asked by the transit industry to continue the project to help them understand how payment cards can be used for advance purchases and season tickets."