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Smart and digital options for West Yorkshire's Buses

25 May 2018

Cash is no longer king on West Yorkshire’s buses, thanks to the range of smart and digital options people can use to pay for their travel. 

MCard, West Yorkshire’s travel ITSO smartcard, now accounts for £30 million of bus and train travel across the county each year, with people using it to make up to 400,000 journeys per week. And, people have used the free MCard app, which enables them to buy and load travel tickets anytime, anywhere, to purchase over £1 million of MCard travel.

Also, customers of the main, local bus and train operators – Arriva Yorkshire First West Yorkshire The Keighley Bus Company, Northern Rail, TransPennine Express, Cross Country and Virgin East Coast and East Midlands Trains - can pay for their journeys using smartphones, apps and contactless cards.

Ease of ticket purchases, the ability to plan travel better in advance and access to dynamic real-time and disruption information will, says the report, be key to helping the Combined Authority and its partners achieve targets to grow bus use in West Yorkshire. These technological improvements are being supported by improved physical infrastructure including a £1 million programme of investment by the Combined Authority to ease hotspots across West Yorkshire, where buses are delayed.

Mobility as a Service

Looking ahead, the Combined Authority is already exploring Mobility as a Service, a concept that sees all transport modes linked through an app or website enabling users to plan, book and pay for their travel using a single mobility account.

In the same way as people currently choose their cable or satellite TV subscription, Mobility as a Service will enable them to purchase ‘bundles’ of different travel services, at home or using their smartphone. Their bundle could be made up of bus and rail services, taxi, car club and cycle hire and in the future could also include driverless vehicles and dock-less bike schemes like Ofo, which is coming to Leeds soon.

Cllr Keith Wakefield, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said:  “Mobility as a Service will enable people to plan, manage and pay for their travel in one place, which can help them save time and money, as well as creating savings to the ways in which the transport sector organises and provides services.”

Today’s Committee meeting was told that on a wider scale, Transport for the North is developing an account-based ticketing environment from 2019. Customers will set up an account with a transport provider or ticketing scheme, use their contactless bank card to register each journey and the back-office technology will calculate the cheapest price for all the journeys they make.

Cllr Wakefield added: “By making travel between our towns and cities easier, Transport for the North’s plans will support the economic growth that can help our region’s meet their huge potential and I am pleased to report that colleagues from the Combined Authority who were involved in making MCard such as success are now involved in the Transport for the North initiative.”

More about MCard

People can find out more about MCard and the app at www.m-card.co.uk.