"Oyster-style" smartcards coming to Norfolk in £2.5 million pilot scheme...

Norfolk’s buses will be at the forefront of government ambitions for a paperless transport system, with a £2.5 million pilot of smart card technology, Transport Minister Norman Baker announced today.

The scheme, which will be funded from the government‘s £15 million commitment to ensure all buses in England are smart enabled, will allow the county’s entire bus fleet to be fitted with smart technology.

The pilot will last for 3 years but will be evaluated throughout so that the benefits can be understood and used nationally before the end of the trial.

Over 40 bus operators in the county will take part in the trial which will increase the number of smart enabled vehicles to over 700 and will see the introduction of a number of new types of tickets – such as Norfolk Area E-Purse, Norfolk Dayrider and Youth (16-19) Discount Product.

Transport Minister, Norman Baker said:

"Smart ticketing is the passport to more efficient, seamless journeys for passengers. I want smart cards being rolled out not just on buses but on all modes of public transport in England as quickly as possible and this important piece of work will make that ambition one step closer to becoming a reality."

Norfolk has been selected for the pilot because it provides a good mix of rural and urban passenger and bus operator markets which will enable the government to test different scenarios and understand what best works for passengers.

Graham Plant, Norfolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Transportation, said:

"I am delighted that the government has agreed to fund this demonstration pilot, and that Norfolk residents will be the first to benefit from the convenience and flexibility of smart cards. We have worked hard to show that Norfolk is the right place to trial smart card technology in a rural area. Under the trial we will be aiming to show that, with the right conditions in place, smart and integrated ticketing is achievable and delivers great benefits to everyone."

The scheme covers the provision of smart ticketing equipment, its installation and maintenance plus supporting back office services, amongst the first buses taking part in the scheme will be those used on Norwich Park & Ride - due to launch this summer, the scheme will then be rolled out across Norfolk by the end of 2014.

Norfolk County Council is providing its own resources, local knowledge and some funding towards the development and introduction of smart ticket products.

information via Department For Transport press release & EDP24 news article.