Plans have been unveiled for a London-stlye ‘tap and cap’ smart payment platform for public transport which would operate across the entire Midlands region.
The system would be similar to the London Oyster card scheme and integrate payments for rail, bus and tram journeys.
It would also operate across the whole Midlands region, including Coventry, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Leicester, Derby and Nottingham
The proposal is being unveiled today by local government leaders across the region, backed by a call for the Government to stump-up the £20m it is estimated would be needed to implement it.
If so it is hoped the system could be fully up and running by 2022 and include new transport initiatives such as electric bicycle and e-scooter rental.
An e-scooter trial in Coventry, which was being run by Swedish company Voi alongside the city council, was suspended after just five days earlier this month following reports of riders weaving in and out of traffic and using pavements and other pedestrianised areas of the city centre.
There are hopes the trial can be revived with new checks and balances in place.
A ‘tap and cap’ system, similar to the platform used by Transport for London, would allow travellers to seamlessly pay for trips on the rail, bus and tram network via their smartphone, travel pass or bank card.
A new payment model would ‘cap’ the payments at a daily or weekly limit, offering value for money for those travelling across the whole Midlands region, regardless of travel mode or transport operator.
The smart platform could also be adapted to include emerging transport modes such as electric bike hire and the rental of e-scooters.
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While smart ticketing initiatives exist in some form in Nottingham, via the Robin Hood travel card and in parts of the West Midlands via ‘Swift’, the UK’s second biggest public transport payment system after London’s Oyster scheme, this new platform would be the first to function at a Midlands-wide level, and encompass all public transport operators.
New and different payment models have been touted as being essential in supporting more flexible work and travel patterns, with season tickets likely to represent poor value for money for many commuters.
A new contactless system would also make payments completely touch free.
The development of the smart ticketing platform, which will be based on ‘Swift’ payment technologies, will be led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) with initial rollout of the plans being implemented by TfWM and Nottingham City Council.
Strategic regional transport body Midlands Connect will work with other local authorities across the region to integrate more areas into the scheme, which could be operational by 2022.
Regional leaders are calling on the Government to provide the £20m in funding required to turn these plans into reality.
West Midlands 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.”
Mr Street added: “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.
“With work habits changing in the face of the coronavirus pandemic we must support more flexible travel patterns, and this scheme would allow us to do exactly that.
“I will be pressing the case to government.”