Plans for new ‘Scottish Oyster Card’ unveiled
The ‘Saltire Card’ could make public transport "more attractive and possibly cheaper" in Scotland
A travel smart card that works similarly to the London Oyster card is to be trialled in Scotland,
Infrastructure Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
The smartcard, if brought into effect, could be used on trains, buses, ferries, the subway and trams.
Smartcards allow operators to collect more personal information about customers and increase their marketing opportunities.
The card could also offer passengers more ways to pay for their travel, and is designed to appeal to tourists by making it easier to travel round the country.
Scotland's 7,100 buses are already equipped with smart-ticketing machines to administer free bus passes for pensioners and disabled people. It is used by more than one million cardholders, but there have been concerns about the quality and speed of repairs by suppliers.
Backers of the potential smartcard scheme have claimed it would make travel easier still; The announcement was lauded by Transform Scotland, the national sustainable transport alliance that have made calls for a “more sensible” transport system.
"The Saltire Card will be a hugely exciting development for transport in Scotland and will help us achieve a truly world-class public transport network”, Nicola Sturgeon said. “We are now taking the first steps towards achieving this vision by launching a series of demonstrator schemes with a number of operators and public sector partners throughout the country."
However, Sturgeon is aware of the “substantial work” needed to complete the proposal. The change is likely to come in small steps.
"Commencing with a pre-paid ticket is a reasonable first step”, Public Transport campaigner Calum McCallum said. He also expressed the short-term importance of creating a day-ticket for public transport in Glasgow in time for the Commonwealth Games.