‘Swift’ smart card launch marks first multimodal ticket roll-out outside London
Smart ticketing has reached the West Midlands as the new Swift cards were launched across the rail network yesterday.
The Swift cards, already used on the region’s buses and trams, are now operating on London Midland, Virgin, Chiltern and CrossCountry services, with 3,000 passengers currently signed up to the direct debit scheme.
The cards can be used at ticket barriers at Snow Hill, University and Five Ways stations in Birmingham (operated by London Midland), New Street, Birmingham International and Coventry (operated by Virgin), and Moor Street (operated by Chiltern).
Laura Shoaf, managing director of Transport for the West Midlands (TfWM), said: “We are the first transport body outside London to deliver a truly multimodal smart ticketing solution that does not require a paper counterpart, and this is just the start.
“Swift offers a range of benefits for the passenger and over the coming months we will be working closely with London Midland and the Department for Transport to identify and develop ways of expanding it still further.”
She added that the next step is to move the 12,000 passengers using nTrain – the local rail-only season ticket – onto Swift, as well as agreeing a smart ticketing arrangement across the Midlands as a whole with Midlands Connect.
The Birmingham launch ceremony for the Swift card, which was funded by a £620,000 grant from the Department for Transport, was attended by transport minister Andrew Jones, who said: “Smart ticketing is revolutionising public transport and I welcome this significant new development in the West Midlands.
“It is important that people can get on and get around and the Swift card is helping cement a modern, affordable transport network that provides better journeys for everyone.”
Richard Brooks, London Midland commercial director, added: “This is a great initiative by TfWM.
“At London Midland we believe passionately in making travel simple for everyone. Having a single smart card that works on trains, buses and Metro will make passengers’ lives easier and encourage more use of public transport across the region.”
London Midland is in the process of bidding to continue operating the West Midlands franchise, competing against West Midlands Trains (owned by Abellio with East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui & Co Ltd as minority partners).
Paul Maynard, the new rail minister, has said smart ticketing should be introduced “in a timely fashion”, while the Urban Transport Group used its recent policy paper to argue for the introduction of Oyster card-style smart tickets in urban areas – something which Transport for the North is currently looking into.
(Image c. Transport for the West Midlands)
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