Local authority leaders in the Midlands have called on ministers to provide £20m for a regional smart ticketing platform.
Sub-national transport body Midlands Connect said that following the pandemic it sees new payment models as essential in supporting more flexible work and travel patterns, ‘with season tickets likely to represent poor value for money for many commuters’.
A Nottingham Express Transit tram crossing Wilford Toll Bridge
The proposed ‘tap and cap’ system would be similar to the platform used by Transport for London and would allow passengers to ‘seamlessly’ pay for rail, bus and tram journeys via their smartphone, travel pass or bank card.
A new payment model would ‘cap’ the payments at a daily or weekly limit, regardless of travel mode or transport operator.
Midlands Connect said the platform could be adapted to include emerging transport modes such as electric bike hire and the rental of e-scooters.
It added that while smart ticketing initiatives exist in some form in Nottingham and parts of the West Midlands, the new platform would be the first to function at a Midlands-wide level and encompass all public transport operators.
West Midlands metro mayor Andy Street said: ‘The introduction of the Swift card in the West Midlands has been a great success, with more than 50 million journeys undertaken last year. But although the card is the biggest of its kind outside of London, we must always look to keep improving.
‘Not only will this funding from Government allow us to cap payments to ensure better value for money, but it also means we could integrate the technology with our new e-scooter trial and soon-to-be-announced bike share scheme, allowing seamless travel on all modes of transport across the region.’
Ian Ward, leader of Birmingham City Council and transport portfolio lead for the West Midlands Combined Authority, said: ‘The way we work, live and travel is changing – this smart ticketing platform will mean better value for money, more convenient ways to pay and crucially, more people using our public transport network. Government must deliver on its promises to level-up and support passengers in Birmingham and the wider Midlands, as it has done in London.’
The platform would be based on 'Swift' payment technologies, with development led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) and initial roll-out of the plans being implemented by TfWM and Nottingham City Council.
Midlands Connect would work with other local authorities across the region to integrate more areas into the scheme, which it said could be operational by 2022.