Spring roll out for electronic public transport tickets across Merseyside
Walrus smart cards are due to be rolled out this spring for people travelling on public transport in Merseyside. Merseytravel chairman Liam Robinson said the cards had seen strong take-up since they were launched as part of an early test in Wirral late last year.
The electronic tickets are being used for Saveaway, replacing the scratch off tickets, and went on sale from the end of November, becoming the first product on Merseytravel’s Walrus smartcard.
The “Smart Saveaways”, which cover off-peak day travel on bus, trains and the Mersey Ferries, have been available at around 190 PayPoint outlets in Wirral as well as the Birkenhead travel centres.
The Saveaway tickets are “loaded” on to the free smartcard, which people will be encouraged to keep safe and re-use every time they buy a Saveaway – as there will be a £1 activation charge for all new cards from April 2015.
Merseytravel says around 54% of the 28,000 cards sold have been re-used and they hope to see this figure increase as people become more accustomed to using them.
Known as the Walrus card they were aimed at taking the hassle out of travelling on a bus, train, or ferry and encouraging more people to use public transport.
Although first launched in September 2011, the phased roll out of the electronic smart cards was initially delayed when transport authority Merseytravel said the technology would not be ready.
A report to the Merseytravel committee, which meets on Thursday said ‘Lessons learnt’ sessions have been held since the Wirral launch “and planning is underway for the rollout of the smart-Saveaway across the remaining retailers in the Liverpool city region”.
The report said: “The removal of scratch-off Saveaway tickets from retailers across the Wirral continues.
“The project is now looking to complete the rollout to the remaining PayPoint retailers and Merseytravel centres as planned. This is currently expected to be early March 2015.”
Merseytravel Chair Liam Robinson said: “Well over half the cards sold have been re-used and this shows they smart cards are becoming embedded.
“The next stage is rolling it out across the rest of the city region, and we’re looking to do that in the next few months, around spring.”
On launch, smart Saveaways were made available for on-the-day travel only, but the opportunity for customers to load multiple Saveaways on the card for future use is being looked at.
Cllr Robinson said they are looking at allowing the cards to be used for other types of tickets, but added: “We’re not counting our chickens before they hatch – but we’re making good progress.”
Story: Liverpool Echo.co.uk