Norwich’s Park and Ride holdall smartcard goes live - but what do you think?

09:49 14 April 2014

Library picture of Norfolk County Council unveilling the

Library picture of Norfolk County Council unveilling the 'holdall', the new smartcard which park and ride bus passengers can use to pay for their journeys. The scheme comes into operation on April 14th 2014. Left to right: Laurie Egan, NCC Travel Network Manager, Tracy Jessop, NCC Assistant Director, Environment, Transport and Development, and Cllr David Harrison, NCC Cabinet Member for Environment, Transport, Development and Waste.

Keith Whitmore

It has been described by many as Norfolk’s answer to the Oyster card but while applications for the new holdall smartcard are expected to reach 1,000 by today it will be limited to the city’s Park and Ride buses first.

What do some of Norwich’s Park and Ride users think?

Name: Pauline Crooke

Age: 60

From: Hainford

Heard of it? “Not really.”

Opinion? “I’ve seen signs about it but I really don’t know what it is I’m being offered.”

Name: Sarah Sparkes

From: Sprowston

Heard of it? “I already have one.”

Opinion? “It just seems an excuse to put up the prices again.”

Name: Donna Mitchelle

Age: 46

From: Horsford

Heard of it? “I have been sent mine already.”

Opinion? “I’ve been buying some 10 journey passes already to stock up on them while they are cheaper. For workers the hop-on, hop-off when you like is not a good incentive for them. The online only function is also not very convenient.”

Name: Danielle Mann

Age: 21

From: Old Catton

Heard of it? “I already have mine.”

Opinion? “I updated my annual pass before the smartcard price increase and instead of sending me my card straight away they sent me the annual pass and then the card later, which seemed odd. I think it is costing a lot of money. At the weekends it will be cheaper to park in the city.”

The cards go live today and extra staff have been made available to assist passengers.

Using it involves touching it on the on-bus reader to pay the fare and fans of the scheme claim it will help speed up boarding and reduce the costs of handling cash.

It is still possible to buy day tickets with cash, but using the holdall reduces the fare for its user. For example an adult using a holdall saver ticket saves £8 for ten days travel at any time, or £5 saved off-peak.

David Harrison, cabinet member for environment, transport, development and waste, said: “Sign-up for holdall has been good, and we expect this to continue when people realise that it’s very convenient, as well as being cheaper than paying cash.

“We are confident that [today] on park and ride will go well, but are putting extra staff on buses to help people use their cards for the first time and explain more about the scheme.

“They are designed to make using the Park and Ride as simple and as cost effective as possible for commuters in the county, and it’s great news that so many people have ordered theirs already and I hope many more will follow.”

The holdall scheme is designed to be fully self service and customers will need to make a one-off, online only application for the free card.

The same is true for the website, and even if a customer’s card has been lost or stolen this problem can be resolved online. There are also opportunities for feedback and registering any problems.

More than 400 of the new holdall travel cards were dispatched during the first week of applications and Norfolk County Council has also received £2.5m funding from the Department for Transport to extend smart ticketing. This will include school and college transport and the use of the smartcard to develop multi-operator ticketing across Norfolk.

It is also hoped that the smartcard will be used with other public services such as libraries, school meals, and some public health applications.

• For more details on fares and to apply for holdall, visit

• What do you think of the smartcard scheme? Write, including full contact to details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.


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Andy Russell

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EDP motoring editor, journalist who loves wheels and engines but hates cleaning them.

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