WEST NORFOLK: Norfolk Green buses to trial smart cards
Norfolk Green has welcomed news that it will be involved in a £2.5m Government pilot scheme to enable use of smart cards on buses in the county.
The three-year pilot, which will be funded from the Government’s £15m commitment to ensure all buses in England are fitted with smart card technology, will involve more than 40 operators covering the entire bus fleet in Norfolk.
A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: “One of the key features of this scheme is its use across different operators so it would be important to bring on board a major operator like Norfolk Green.
“We are the first rural county to be trialling this technology and what we learn here will be rolled out across the country.”
He said use of smart cards, which could be topped up in various ways, would make it easier and quicker to board buses and dispense with the worry for passengers of having the right change on them, as deductions would be made straight from the card.
The pilot will be evaluated throughout the three years so that the benefits can be understood and used nationally before the end of the trial.
Several new types of tickets will be introduced, such as Norfolk Area E-Purse, Norfolk Dayrider and Youth Discount.
Richard Pengelly, Norfolk Green’s operations manager, said: “This is something we are up for and would contribute to, as it’s the way forward.
“Being involved in this trial can only be a good thing for the west of the county and help us to keep our fares down.
“We have been talking, totally separately, about paying for smart ticketing ourselves and this scheme might help us a lot. It’s an excellent system and the equipment is out there, but it’s very expensive.”
He said concessionary passes were already smart-enabled and it would be logical to extend that to schoolchildren.
Mr Pengelly said: “We have been offering discounted fares for 16 to 19-year-olds for eight years now and we were the first bus company in the country to do that and we are proud of it.”
Norfolk has been selected for the pilot because it provides a good mix of rural and urban passenger and bus operator markets to understand what best works for passengers.
This week Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “Smart ticketing is the passport to more efficient, seamless journeys for passengers. I want smart cards being rolled out not just on buses but on all modes of public transport in England as quickly as possible.”
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