Paper bus tickets will be a thing of the past in Norfolk as the government announced the county will be the first in England to use smart card technology.

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Transport minister Norman Baker will announce today that his department will supply £2.5m to see some 700 vehicles in Norfolk, run by more than 40 operators, fitted with equipment to make the upgrade possible.

Under the new system, similar to London’s Oyster scheme, passengers would own a card which they could top up with credit. They would then simply swipe it against a reader when getting on a bus.

Mr Baker told the Eastern Daily Press said: “Norfolk is the right place for this pilot for a couple of reasons. The county has been quite forward looking, as have the operators, and we are keen to work with those that are ready to go.

“It’s also interesting because Norfolk presents a mix of different bus routes, the urban ones, the rural ones and then the very rural ones.”

He added: “We are looking to open it up across England, but we wanted to use Norfolk first.”

Customers will be able to check and top up their travel credit online but the county council hopes to allow customers to buy cards and top up credit at outlets across Norfolk.

The scheme will see the introduction of a number of new types of ticket offering travel for a day, a week, a month or those for only occasional use.

Mr Baker continued: “I think it’s going to make it more attractive to travel. What we see in London is that it’s hugely popular and that it encourages people to use public transport.

“It makes the transition on to the bus quicker, because you swipe the card rather than having to hunt around for 85p in change, which reduces the overall travel time.”

He also claimed the system would have broader economic benefits by making travel more efficient and would persuade fewer people to use cars, having an impact on the environment and on congested roads.

The government has brought forward £15m to see that all buses in England are fitted with smart card technology, with the first £2.5m going to Norfolk and other schemes following afterwards.

The county’s pilot will last three years, with Norwich Park and Ride one of the first services to use the cards in early summer, followed by a roll out to other services by the end of 2014.

Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation, said: “I’m delighted the government has agreed to fund this demonstration pilot, and that Norfolk residents will be the first to benefit from the convenience and flexibility of smart cards.

“We’ve worked hard to show Norfolk is the right place for the trial of smart card technology in a rural area.

“Under the trial we will be aiming to show that with the right conditions in place. Smart and integrated ticketing is achievable and delivers great benefits to everyone.”

23 comments

  • What on earth is this all about? Surely there are more pressing matters for govt to address? Must be another vested interest they are keeping happy. Of course Oyster was another PFI, which indirectly you're all paying for even though it only operates in and around London. LOL

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    Mr Cameron Isaliar

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • Technology has not been entirely embraced by the public.ONS reports 5.2million households are without internet access for example.This may create problems for those still unused to technology.

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    Peter Watson

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • A great idea in the fast-moving and youthful place that is London but not an ideal scheme for norfolk and elderly passengers in the rural backwaters.

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    blue tractor

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • parkeg1, where are you getting this information from about London getting rid of Oyster? I've used my Oyster card for 3 years when working in London and its so simple and quick its ridiculous. I top up £20 which would last me a couple of weeks usually. The fares are worked out by zones. Have a look at the TFLOyster website. The fares for Oyster cards are cheaper too, I pay about £1.50 per journey. Its all good, as long as we dont get the old TFL machines like we do with the buses.

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    Piranha24

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • If anyone needs convincing of the benefits of an Oyster Card type system, take some friends to London, use an Oyster Card yourself and see how much frustrating time you lose while waiting for them to buy tickets.

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    AE

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • Can anyone please explain why we the taxpayers are coughing up the cash to develop smart cards for buses? We have a privatised bus service - so why are we paying? Maybe though it's the start of something good - and they will pay for the bus station roof?

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    Richard Woods

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • oyster cards in Norfolk - the mind boggles!

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    biglingers

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • Ingo, Which backward looking part of the city do you catch your empty park and ride bus from. Or are you making journeys against the natural flow?

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    George Ezekial

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Well those expensive electronic machines we had on Castle Meadow and St Stephen's could have carried on making the process quicker but those cuts Mr Baker and his LibDemTory colleagues implemented meant they sit there unused........

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    Jono

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • I think its great news for Norfolk and a real boost for public transport. Better ticketing means easier travel, more people, more demand, more buses, better choice, better coverage, bigger network,less cars, cleaner air. I want my smart card please. Soon as you like.

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    devil's advocate

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • I go to London a fair bit and use an oyster card which tops up from my bank autmatically. I find it so quick and simple it's the omly good thing about the underground. Our buses however are a different story, expensive, slow, unreliable, miserable drivers a lot of the time, no card will change that.

    Report this comment

    mclaf

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • surprise! - my coment didn't get through - try again. oyster cards for Norfolk - the mind boggls!!

    Report this comment

    biglingers

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • The money should be used for real time information from buses to the relevant stops, so people know when the bus is coming. The money for a rolling timetable was wasted, so was the expensive re-branding of routes. And now this, aiding the manufacturing of oyster cards will not do anything for easier access and real time information. I'm still looking forward to catching and paying a fare on an empty P&R bus, on its way into the City, changes that can be arranged in a jiffy take yonks in Norfolk.

    Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Thursday, February 28, 2013

  • Why not just use existing contactless debit card payments direct from your bank. Saves having another card and cuts out the middleman. And 85p? Shows how much the people who make these decisions really know about buses and travel in the real world.

    Report this comment

    fryboy

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • 85p??? Last time I used a bus it was £4 for a 12 minute trip. Is it possible to get a fare as low as 85p and how far does it take you?

    Report this comment

    john smith

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • I don't do buses when in London. However, I'm pretty sure they have one flat rate for the whole area ?..Can't see the b's of Norwich reducing their cash grab.

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    nrg

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • Great idea providing they make the machines future-proof to accept emerging technologies for contactless payment.

    Report this comment

    AE

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • As a regular visitor (from south of the border) to the Harford P&R will I have to buy one of these cards to pay the charge for using my travel concession card?

    Report this comment

    John Haseltine

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • First have just introduced new ticket machines , which I understand are intended to take debit cards at some time in the future . Will their technology work with the Oyster Card , or does it mean an additional piece of equipment having to be installed ?

    Report this comment

    dragonfly

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • “It makes the transition on to the bus quicker, because you swipe the card rather than having to hunt around for 85p in change, which reduces the overall travel time.” ..obviously Mr Baker has never traveled on our buses.

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    nrg

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • So I take it there will be a flat rate fare? All fares are different, so how does swiping a card charge you the correct fare when it doesn't know where you've got on, and where you're getting off?

    Report this comment

    Bri_H

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • Before everyone says the elderly won't cope - they already do. The concession pass is "smart", collecting money at the post office or a bank, using loyalty cards at the supermarket. This isn't brain surgery, its a simple way to make it easier to use public transport and its coming here. Yay.

    Report this comment

    devil's advocate

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

  • So just when London are begining to get rid of the oyster card, we finally catch up and the local council thinks that's a good thing.

    Report this comment

    parkeg1

    Wednesday, February 27, 2013

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