Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has pledged to roll out smart ticketing to almost all of the country’s rail network by the end of next year. Addressing the Conservative party conference in Manchester on Monday he pledged an £80M programme to bring forward ticketing strategies that use mobile phones, barcodes and smartcards. “It is what passengers want and we will deliver it,” he said.
ITS (UK) Secretary General Jennie Martin said: “The announcement by the Secretary of State is very welcome to the ITS sector. Smart ticketing technology contributes significantly to making public transport travel easy, convenient and seamless. Many travellers in our large city regions and on major rail routes already know this. Extending the benefits to most of the rest of the country will open up travel choices for more citizens.”
Reacting to the announcement, London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport Val Shawcross told a fringe meeting of the Urban Transport Group on Tuesday: “We very strongly welcome the commitment to smart ticketing. Passengers want that joined up journey, which makes such a difference to accessibility as a whole.”
She added that Transport for London has been selling software behind its contactless travel to other countries and “it would be great to support other cities in the UK” looking to follow suit.
Also at the meeting, the Campaign for Better Transport’s executive director Stephen Joseph said that technology represents one of the most important aspects of future transport planning. “Driverless cars are some way off, but there are huge opportunities now with the use of data that need to be grasped,” he remarked. Data that helps to plan and manage transport networks can, he said, “give much better services to transport users”.
Halesowen & Rowley Regis MP James Morris told the meeting of the need to focus on future technology now. “In a world dominated by digital interaction there is a need to invest now in long term horizons in terms of the nature of transport choices in the future and the impact of that,” he said. “We are on the cusp of things like artificial intelligence and automation; a revolution that may come quicker than we think, so we need to keep our eye on that.”
Photo of Chris Grayling: Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons