Transport chiefs across the Midlands are to ask the Government for £20 million to support the launch of a new region-wide contactless payment system for public transport.
The move would mirror that already in use in London where passengers can pay by using a prepaid Oyster card or by tapping their bank card or smartphone at turnstiles instead of spending cash.
Payment systems already exist in the region, with Swift covering parts of the West Midlands and the Robin Hood card operating in Nottingham, but there is nothing yet which unifies both the West and East Midlands, a region which is home to ten million people.
If successful, the new payment platform would allow travellers to pay for bus, train and tram journeys using either their travel pass, contactless bank card or smartphone.
In addition to the ticketless technology, a new payment model would cap the payments at a daily or weekly limit aimed at enhancing value for money for those travelling across the whole Midlands regardless of mode or operator.
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The platform could also be adapted to include emerging transport methods such as the rental of electric bikes and e-scooters which are currently being trialled in the region.
The smart ticketing platform will be based on Swift’s payment technologies and it is hoped it will be operational by 2022.
Transport chiefs hope it will offer a more viable and cheaper solution than season tickets as more people work flexibly and spend fewer days travelling to and from their offices in a post-covid world.
Transport for West Midlands is leading the project in partnership with Nottingham City Council while regional transport body Midlands Connect will work with other local authorities to integrate more areas into the scheme.
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.
“Not only will this funding from the Government allow us to cap payments to ensure better value for money, 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 the government.”
Nottingham City Council leader Cllr David Mellen added: “This platform will allow seamless travel between the towns and cities of the Midlands and, for those travelling to and from more rural areas, ensuring that public transport is both a practical and affordable option for passengers.
“While the effects of covid-19 may see more of us working from the office part time, for policymakers tackling climate change must remain a priority.
“This solution will help us to meet both of these challenges.”