Over 1 million smartcard transactions are now being carried out by over 1/2 million smartcard-holders every week on West Yorkshire’s buses and trains.
Since they were launched in April 2014, more than 16,000 pink MCards for weekly and monthly travel and around 86,000, 16-25 PhotoCards, Young Person’s PhotoCards, and Scholar’s PhotoCards have been issued. This is in addition to the 391,200 English National Concessionary Transport Scheme cards for Senior, Disabled and Blind people in West Yorkshire, which are also smartcards.
MCard was made possible through a successful £4.35m bid to the Department for Transport's (DfT) Better Bus Area Fund by the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (Metro) and Integrated Transport Authority (WYITA) in 2012 and almost £9m of local funding. Metro, now the West Yorkshire Combined Authority has establishing a smartcard retail network with Payzone, helped bus operators equip vehicles and developed back-office technology to make MCard possible.
Further enhancements to MCard currently being developed include ‘pay-as-you-go’ ticketing and online sales.
Largest outside London
“MCard is the UK’s largest and most advanced smartcard scheme apart from London’s Oyster system and huge numbers of passengers in West Yorkshire are already benefitting from it,” said Cllr James Lewis, Chair of West Yorkshire Combined Authority’s Transport Committee. “Smartcard passengers can travel where they want in West Yorkshire with a single ticket, MCard's touch technology helps them get on buses faster and does away with the need to fish around for change.
“Smartcards can already be used at Leeds Rail Station and Bradford Interchange to pass through the barriers and Huddersfield Station will follow shortly and we are working with train operators to implementing the smartcard system across the West Yorkshire rail network.
Cllr Lewis said he was pleased to see bus operators supporting Ed Miliband’s recent call for ‘Oyster-style’ ticketing across the north of England and said that because MCards meet the industry’s ITSO specifications they could potentially be used right across the north.
“It is good to see the bus industry embracing smartcard ticketing although we must remember Oyster card-holders in London don’t pay the premium prices for using different operators’ services that the bus companies insist on imposing on passengers in West Yorkshire.”
People wanting to top up their pink MCard can do so at West Yorkshire’s 700 Payzone stores. Open from early morning until late at night, seven days a week, they are the convenient place to top up travel smartcards and save money because currently there is a £2 discount on monthly products and 50p off weekly ones at Payzone.
Find out more about MCard and how to find your nearest Payzone (opens in new window).
In his role as Chair of the pteg Transport Committee Group Cllr Lewis said, “It's a shame too that although operators say they are keen on
partnership with local authorities they have not consulted with us on
this announcement, nor have they had the courtesy to acknowledge in the
statement the significant investment that local authorities have, and
continue to make, in smart ticketing implementation."
He continued “This statement raises more questions than answers. At present it's a press release for a plan the status and extent of which is both unpublished and unclear.
“Smart ticketing is part of Oyster but Oyster is also about simpler ticketing, and it's about ticketing that can be used easily across all bus services and all modes. It is important to be clear that it is not legally possible to introduce full London-style Oyster-style ticketing under bus deregulation because you can't make all operators charge the same fare in a free market. Only London-style franchising gives you London-style simple Oyster ticketing.