The country’s only statutory sub-national transport body (STB) has had to scale back its roll-out of capped contactless fare payment after bus operators declined to sign up.
Transport for the North (TfN) said that after consulting public transport operators and partners its Board had ‘agreed to a revised delivery approach which will see us working primarily with our region’s train operating companies'.
TfN said it wanted to deliver contactless pay-as-you-go travel on rail, 'to be integrated with bus and other modes at a future date’.
The STB plans to work with local transport authorities to develop localised smart ticketing schemes, including integration with bus ‘to help deliver on our original vision for multi-operator, multi-model smart ticketing’.
A spokesperson said: ‘We have been working on a central ticketing scheme that would cover all the different modes and operators.'
The spokesperson added that other aspects of its integrated and smart travel programme, including the roll-out of smart cards across the North’s rail network, ‘continue at pace’.
However, as Transport Network has reported, rail operator smart cards provide very limited opportunities for multi-modal, flexible or contactless travel.
Graham Vidler, chief executive of the Confederation of Passenger Transport, suggested that the bus industry preferred to concentrate on ticketing primarily for bus services and had committed last year to delivering price-capped multi-operator daily and weekly tickets in major urban areas by 2022 as part of its wider digital strategy.
He added that contactless ticketing is now available on over 90% of buses with more than 120 million journeys in 2019 paid for using contactless or mobile ticketing.
Price-capped ticketing is also offered in a number of towns and cities. This provides the platform to extend cheaper travel and best fare guarantees on a multi-operator and subsequently multi-modal basis.
Mr Vidler said: ‘Following TfN’s decision to focus on the rail sector in the near term, we will continue to improve our customer offer by working together to deliver simpler ticketing across a range of platforms around the country. This includes introducing the first multi-operator capped ticketing scheme by Autumn 2020.'