Headlines: March 29th, 2010

A city council has joined forces with university researchers to test Smartcard technology on local bus services. The trial in Bristol has been organised ahead of the launch of a regional scheme which is due to be funded by the Government.

The Bristol City Council scheme, which will cost the authority twenty thousand pounds, will start at the end of June. It will test the technology so that the council and staff from the University of the West of England, as well as public transport providers, can understand more about its benefits and the logistics of using it.

The smartcard can safely store up to fifty pounds in value and each time it is used the card holder will automatically be given a 16 per cent discount on the the cost of a standard fare. The trial will involve bus operator Wessex Connect and the cards will also be used on Ulink buses in an expansion of the University’s own successful scheme on intercampus services via the centre of Bristol. The Wessex Connect buses are being kitted out with the correct ticket machines and back office system at no cost to the council.

Councillor Jon Rogers, the city council’s Executive Member for Transport and Sustainability, said: “People are impatient for this technology and the regional scheme may be some time in the offing. In the meantime, there’s a lot we can learn about the technology and a lot of benefits we can offer for a fairly low investment.”