The Scottish Government has made the first step towards a Scotland-wide travel Smart Card to be used across the public transport networks.
The ticket, dubbed the Saltire Card, will allow passengers to pre-load money which they can then use on trains, buses, ferries, subway and trams throughout Scotland.
It will lead to cash-free travel and provide a tourism boost with holidaymakers being able to load up the card before travelling around the country.
The Saltire Card could also make it cheaper and easier for people to get around thanks to additional opportunities for promotions such as cut-price travel and flexible pricing.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the delivery plans for the scheme at Glasgow’s Buchanan Bus Station.
Ms Sturgeon, who was also speaking at the Scottish Cities Forum, said:
“The Saltire Card will be a hugely exciting development for transport in Scotland and will help us achieve a truly world-class public transport network.
“It will make it easier, more attractive and possibly cheaper for people to get around using public transport and will help further connect our cities.
“While we are aware that there is still some substantial work to do on this proposal, we are now taking the first steps towards achieving this vision by launching a series of demonstrator schemes with a number of operators and public sector partners throughout the country.
“Bus operators are already Smart Card-enabled and many are already working in partnership with Transport Scotland to see how they can fully realise the benefits of the technology and how they can integrate with other operators to share those benefits with passengers.”
The Scottish Government has already funded the provision of 7,000 smart enabled ticket machines across the entire Scottish bus fleet and successfully runs the Scotland-wide concessionary travel scheme on a smart platform. This is the biggest example of a bus smart ticketing scheme outside of London, with over 1million cardholders and 146million journeys per year across all of Scotland’s 260 bus operators.
On rail, Transport Scotland has worked closely with First ScotRail to deliver the largest rail smart ticketing pilot in the UK, while smart ticketing will be a key element of the new franchise from 2014.
The Scottish Government cannot deliver smart ticketing on its own and transport agency Transport Scotland is currently working with operators, local authorities and Regional Transport Partnerships on a number of demonstrator projects. Details will soon be announced of pilot schemes in local areas.
Ms Sturgeon launched the plans with bus company West Coast Motors.
The firm’s managing director Colin Craig said:
“We look forward to working with Transport Scotland in developing a Scotland-wide smart card and, as part of this, we will continue our investment in the latest ticketing technology, ensuring that our customers are best placed to take advantage of the benefits smart ticketing should bring including possible offers on fares.”