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Manchester and Liverpool begin contactless travel payments

18/07/19

Mark Say Managing Editor

Contactless payment systems for public transport are being launched for the two major cities in the North-West of England.

Manchester tram

Manchester has begun to take card payments for its Metrolink tram system this week, and Liverpool is preparing to accept them on its bus network from the end of the month.

They have followed the lead of Transport for London in providing the option to use smart travel cards or debit or credit cards by tapping them on readers.

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) implemented the change at the beginning of this week, having developed a ‘pay as you go’ system with payments provider Visa, based on the Contactless Transit Framework developed by UK Cards.

It will involve a daily cap for users to ensure that those paying by debit or credit card do not pay more than users of the one-day travel card.

More to come

Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: “These initiatives are the first of many on our journey towards the integrated, London-style transport system we want to see here.

“Contactless payments on Metrolink in particular will be a major boost for many people, including commuters and the millions of visitors we get every single year.”

A spokesperson for TfGM said the tram network’s operators, Keolis and Amey, have software to use the relevant data in planning service patterns for the city.

Its bus services, which are provided by a number of operators, are not so far included in the scheme.

By contrast, all buses run by all operators in the Liverpool City Region are scheduled to begin accepting contactless payments from 31 July, following the lead set for the city by Stagecoach – which went contactless in July 2017 – and Arriva – in June of this year.

They will all use the Littlepay card reader technology that has already been deployed by Stagecoach and Arena.

Liverpool City Region Combined Authority said the move has been supported by £1.05 million from the Transforming Cities Fund.

Another step

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram said: “The roll out of contactless technology is yet another step in the right direction as we seek to create a Liverpool City Region transport system that is fit for the 21st century – and it brings us into line with cities like London.

“The bus alliance has allowed us to make good progress in modernising our bus network – but now, with the powers we have through the Bus Services Act 2017 – we can move ahead at speed, beyond incremental improvements.”

A spokesperson said the technology will support payments by the city’s Walrus Card, debit and credit cards, and there are plans for an online portal for buying tickets to be introduced later this year, with a staged roll out of products.

While the initial focus is on improving the payment process for travellers, data from the use of bank cards will, subject to privacy restrictions, be used alongside the smart ticketing data for analysis and planning bus services.

The spokesperson added that the readers on the buses include signalling systems to provide data on their location and alert traffic lights of their approach. There are plans to extend the use of the intelligent transport system, trials of which began in April, to more bus routes throughout the city region.

Image by otama, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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