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Transport for the North plans for smart ticketing



Northern transport group moves closer to deployment of system to cover 19 local transport authority areas

A consortium of transport bodies operating in the north of England has taken step in the creation of a smart ticketing system in looking for a partner to process transactions in a contract worth an estimated £15 million.

Transport for the North (TfN) has highlighted the plans in a procurement notice in which it calls for the appointment of a merchant acquirer for its forthcoming shared contactless payments system, named Account-Based Back Office for Travel (ABBOT).

A merchant acquirer processes transactions and sends them to the relevant card issuer for authorisation and settlement.

The procurement notice indicates the contract will be worth an estimated £15 million and says: "Particular focus will be on the management and minimisation of declined transactions to minimise this element of the cost of sale of this retail channel as well as commercially attractive low transaction fees."

ABBOT is a central feature of TfN’s £150 million Integrated and Smart Travel programme, and should support the introduction of smart ticketing on trains, light rail, trams and buses. This will allow passengers to 'tap in' and 'tap out' using bank cards and smart travelcards, and to renew tickets online.

According to the plan it should ensure they pay the lowest possible price for travel. 

The programme is being deployed in three phases, with completion by 2021: smartcard season tickets on Northern, TransPennine Express and Merseyrail services; improving customer information (the current phase); and implementation of the ABBOT system.

TfN is also in the process of setting up an online knowledge hub aimed at operators and local transport authorities. This will facilitate collaboration by providing information and useful documents to partnering organisations, such as for joint funding bids, and offer an online forum for private group discussion.

TfN recently announced that it was developing an open data hub for developers to create digital services, such as journey planners, as well as a disruption messaging service.

The consortium is made up of partners including 19 local transport authorities, three train operators, Network Rail, Highways England, HS2 Ltd and the Department of Transport. It was launched in April with government funding, part of a 30-year strategic transport plan to create a united front for transport infrastructure investment and improve the economy in the North of England.

Image by Beau Giles, CC BY 2.0 through flickr

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