Facts and figures

ITSO is probably part of your everyday life – you just don’t know it. Next time you use a smartcard to pay for your journey on public transport, look for the blue and white logo.

A map showing ITSO in use in the UK can be found here


ITSO Around the UK

ITSO-compliant smart ticketing has been adopted by all five main bus operating companies in Britain (Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach) and is used for concessionary smart ticketing on around 14,000 buses outside London.

ITSO has also already been adopted by many train companies and will be adopted in all new rail franchises.

And it is used in other forms of public transport such as ferries, trams and the subway/underground.

Transport for London smart ticketing is mainly through the Oyster smartcard or contactless bank cards. However ongoing work means TfL’s ticketing system is gradually accepting ITSO-compliant smartcards. This is crucial for rail passengers and operators because more than 60% of all rail journeys begin or end in London.

Great chunks of the country are moving towards commercial ITSO-compliant schemes, having already established the smart processing of concessionary bus passes using ITSO-compliant technology. In many cases local authorities and passenger transport executives are taking the lead and working with transport operators. For instance:

  • NESTI (North East Smart Ticketing Initiative) in the North East covering 12 local authority areas including Nexus Tyne & Wear (so far partly covered by the Pop card)
  • The NoWcard in Cumbria and Lancashire, which includes exciting plans for encouraging more public transport use by tourists to the Lake District
  • South Yorkshire PTE area has the Travelmaster smartcard which can be used on bus, train and tram.
  • West Yorkshire Combined Authority leads on the MCard scheme
  • Norfolk has launched the holdall smartcard scheme
  • Nottingham’s Citycard scheme can be used for transport and other council services
  • Reading Buses have the simplyBus smartcard
  • South Hampshire and the Isle of Wight have combined to produce the SolentGo smart ticketing scheme used on bus, ferry and hovercraft.
  • South West Smart Applications Limited (SWSAL), a smart ticketing project involving 15 local authorities and 17 transport operators in the South West of England.
  • Merseyside, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands all have existing or planned ITSO-compliant smart ticketing systems
  • Leicestershire’s bus operators are committed to going ITSO-smart with the OneCard
  • The whole of Cheshire is covered by the first ITSO-compliant commercial Travelcard on its buses
  • Many other local authorities have plans to migrate to ITSO-compliant schemes for both concessionary and commercial ticketing.

In other areas, operators like Go-Ahead and Stagecoach are taking the lead and are already successfully launching their own commercial smartcards – the key and StagecoachSmart respectively. First has launched its touch smartcard in the West of England, including Bristol.

Working together with Oxfordshire County Council, Go-Ahead and Stagecoach also have a very successful, integrated, interoperable service in Oxford’s Smartzone where cards and products from either operator can be used on both companies’ buses.

Cambridge Busway smartcards are valid on either Stagecoach or Go-Whippet buses.

In Scotland, buses have been equipped nationally to take ITSO smartcards for its concessionary travel scheme. Stagecoach has introduced its commercial StagecoachSmart card on buses in West Scotland. An ITSO scheme is being operated by First ScotRail. Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (centred in Glasgow) has introduced ITSO-smart ticketing on the Subway. Several ITSO-compliant school bus pass schemes are underway.

In Wales, buses already accept ITSO-compliant smartcards for concessionary travel but operators are also running schemes with commercial pay as you go, student and season tickets.

  • According to the Department for Transport, in 2013/14, 8.3 billion journeys were made on public transport in Great Britain.
  • Of the above 5.2 billion journeys were made on bus, 1.59 billion on National Rail, 1.27 billion on London Underground, and 12.7 million on Glasgow’s Subway.
  • Throughout Great Britain 3.7 billion public transport journeys a year are paid for by smartcard. This is 45% of the 8.3 billion public transport journeys made a year.
  • Some 750 million (20%) of those journeys are paid for with ITSO-compliant smartcards and the rest are paid for via the Oyster card in London or by using contactless bank cards.
  • That means 9% of all public transport journeys in Great Britain are made using ITSO-compliant smartcards.
  • ITSO-compliant smart ticketing has been adopted by all five main bus operating companies in Britain (Arriva, First, Go-Ahead, National Express and Stagecoach).
  • 21,500 buses in England outside London are ITSO-equipped.
  • ITSO has already been adopted by many train companies – Abellio ScotRail, c2c, East Midlands, Gatwick Express, Great Northern, London Midland, Merseyrail, Southeastern, Southern Railway, South West Trains, and Thameslink. It will be adopted in all new rail franchises.
  • ITSO currently has 125 Members including local and national government, transport operators and smart ticketing equipment and consultancy suppliers.
  • Another 26 companies are ITSO Registered Suppliers
  • For the technically minded, as of January 2015, ITSO Members have registered nearly 1,160 different types of active concessionary and commercial ticket types to be supported in the ITSO environment. Of these some 232 are concessionary tickets for the elderly and disabled, and their companions.
  • Other ticket types registered include stored travel rights, multi-operator options, carnets, season passes, and ferry ticketing.
  • As of November 2014, more than 86,000 ISAMs were connected to the ISMS
  • More than 60,000 ITSO-compliant ticketing machines (POSTs) are used to process these smart ticketing journeys and that data, in turn, is processed through some 75 back office systems (HOPS)
NB The above figures have been compiled with input from some, not all, ITSO members and are therefore conservative estimates.

ITSO in Europe

ITSO is working with the European Union and other international transport and standards bodies such as the Smart Ticketing Alliance to develop continental interoperable smart ticketing. Find out more


This page was last updated on 18 May 2016 GMT