Smartcard users on the rise on buses and trains

Stock bus pictures. Halifax Bus Station.

Stock bus pictures. Halifax Bus Station.

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Over one million smartcard transactions are now being carried out by over 1/2 million smartcard-holders every week on West Yorkshire’s buses and trains.

Since they were launched in April 2014, more than 16,000 pink MCards for weekly and monthly travel and around 86,000, 16-25 PhotoCards, Young Person’s PhotoCards, and Scholar’s PhotoCards have been issued. This is in addition to the 391,200 English National Concessionary Transport Scheme cards for Senior, Disabled and Blind people in West Yorkshire, which are also smartcards.

MCard was made possible through a successful £4.35m bid to the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Better Bus Area Fund by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (Metro) and Integrated Transport Authority (WYITA) in 2012 and almost £9m of local funding.

Metro, now the West Yorkshire combined Authority has establishing a smartcard retail network with Payzone, helped bus operators equip vehicles and developed back-office technology to make MCard possible.

Further enhancements to MCard currently being developed include ‘pay-as-you-go’ ticketing and online sales.

“MCard is the UK’s largest and most advanced smartcard scheme apart from London’s Oyster system and huge numbers of passengers in West Yorkshire are already benefitting from it,” said Councillor James Lewis, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’ Transport Committee. “Smartcard passengers can travel where they want in West Yorkshire with a single ticket, MCard’s touch technology helps them get on buses faster and does away with the need to fish around for change.

“Smartcards can already be used at Leeds Rail Station and Bradford Interchange to pass through the barriers and Huddersfield Station will follow shortly and we are working with train operators to implementing the smartcard system across the West Yorkshire rail network.

Coun Lewis said he was pleased to see bus operators supporting Ed Miliband’s recent call for ‘Oyster-style’ ticketing across the north of England and said that because MCards meet the industry’s ITSO specifications they could potentially be used right across the north.

“It is god to see the bus industry embracing smartcard ticketing although we must remember Oyster card-holders in London don’t pay the premium prices for using different operators’ services that the bus companies insist on imposing on passengers in West Yorkshire.”