Translink will introduce London-style ‘Oyster cards’ and contactless payments on Northern Ireland’s buses and trains, it has been announced.
Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said it will cost £45 million to modernise Translink’s 15-year-old ticketing system and bring it in line with cities like London.
The changes will be introduced on the new Bus Rapid Transit System in 2018 and will be rolled out on the Metro and Ulsterbus services the following year, according to Translink’s chief executive Chris Conway.
Announcing the changes, the minister said: “The current ticketing system was introduced 15 years ago and serves around 80 million passenger journeys every year.
“This programme will deliver a modern, efficient and convenient ticketing system that will benefit passengers and lead to greater efficiencies. It will improve the passenger experience.”
Mr Conway said: “Exciting enhancements will include the acceptance of contactless payment cards on bus, e-purse payments like the London-style ‘Oyster Card’, ticket vending machines, gated rail stations and an online app for customers to manage their accounts and top-up their smartcards.
“Implementation is expected to start in 2018 with the new Bus Rapid Transit System. Following this, in 2019 we plan to introduce contactless payments for Metro and Ulsterbus services and customers will enjoy further technology enhancements as we phase in this new era in Translink ticketing which will attract more people to use the bus and train as travel options.”
Mr Hazzard added: “The new Programme for Government envisages increasing the number of people using public transport.
“A high-quality public transport infrastructure is fundamental to encouraging people to use our buses and trains.
“This innovative ticketing system will deliver long-term benefits and transform how we access public transport across the region.”
The contract to introduce the changes has been awarded to Parkeon, a firm that started with a single parking terminal in France in the 1960s but now boasts offices all over the world.
Mr Conway added: “We are looking forward to working closely with Parkeon to introduce modern ticketing technologies.”