A leading transport watchdog has welcomed the launch of a consultation into pay-as-you-go ticketing on the railways – but with an added caveat.
Transport Focus, a non-departmental public body sponsored by the Department for Transport (DfT) believes the correct technology needs to be in place before such a system can be rolled out in detail.
It comes as the DfT has launched its consultation on pay-as-you-go smart ticketing and the viability of rolling this out on a wider scale.
The consultation is considering proposals to extend this in rail; what a pay-as-you-go travel area is and how it would work; where an area could cover; and the changes to fares that could be made within the specified area that benefits from this potential new and efficient method of payment.
Views of businesses and passengers will be sought about wider use of pay-as-you-go, which would see customers swipe in and out at ticket barriers with smart or bank cards – a popular alternative to existing paper tickets.
Anthony Smith, Chief Executive of the transport watchdog, believes customers will benefit from “simpler and quicker” journeys, but the technology must be in place.
He said: “At a stroke, millions of passengers journeys could become simpler and quicker.
“The spread of a pay-as-you-go system, which already works well in London, is to be welcomed. Assuming it is backed up by the same robust technology, with a clear single help point, then trust in this new system will soon build.
“However, it will be important to understand how the detail will work.”
Passengers on the railway have seen rail fares rise once again, and the consultation makes it clear that costs could increase as a result of the roll out of this smart ticketing.
As a result, the transport watchdog believe people have to be made aware how their own spending will be affected.
Anthony Smith at Transport Focus added: “Passengers will want to know how their spend is affected – some prices may go up as well as some coming down.”