Translink’s ticket payment systems needed this overhaul

Morning View
Morning View

The new ticketing system that Translink is bringing into Northern Ireland is a major step forward in making public transport easier to use and more attractive to potential travellers.

Consider for a moment the payment methods that have existed until now.

Almost all transactions have been carried out by cash on the bus or train, or using cash or card in a station.

In the latter method, passengers have to queue.

Given that the queue might take two minutes or 10 minutes, people then have to allow enough time for the maximum likely queue time.

If they are paying on the train or bus by cash, they have to use a note smaller than a £50 and there might not even be change to handle a £20 note.

It is inefficient for everyone when these are the only options.

It is time consuming for Translink staff and it is a delay for the passengers.

Meanwhile, in shops customers are getting used to the convenience of contactless payments where they merely touch a card to complete a transaction.

It is encouraging to hear Translink compare the new ticketing systems to London’s ‘Oyster cards’, because Oyster is a good template.

The cards in the capital have been a success. Journeys are cheaper using the cards than buying a single ticket, which gives passengers an incentive to use them.

They are then easily topped up and balances easily transferred from one card to another.

The cards make movements through station barriers faster and allow the Underground to redeploy staff to other parts of the Tube operation.

It is taking a while for this all to come into place in Northern Ireland – the ticketing system will not be rolled out on Metro and Ulsterbus services until 2019.

But even so, this is a welcome announcement from Translink.