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Smart ticketing contractor ditched in Greater Manchester

Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has scrapped its deal with private firm Atos to deliver smart ticketing across the Metrolink tram network, local rail services and the rest of the public transport infrastructure.

In a joint statement by TfGM and Atos, seen by RTM, the transport body said that “after a considerable period of delay it has become clear that Atos cannot deliver the smart ticketing system as contracted”.

The ITSO-compliant ‘get me there’ smartcard scheme was introduced in October 2014 for people with concessionary travel passes, but had not yet been extended to the general public.

Atos was contracted in 2012 to design, build and operate the ticketing system for Greater Manchester to be rolled out on Metrolink and possibly to bus and rail.

However the private firm came short on their agreement, capping the current access to the smart cards at the existing 500,000 concessionary card holders.

“The parties have decided that it is in their best interests to agree to a mutual termination of the contract, on commercial terms, the details of which remain confidential between parties,” the statement said.

TfGM will receive “substantial compensations” for the costs incurred during the process, which will enable them to develop another smart ticketing system with alternative suppliers.

Despite the shortcoming, Atos is collaborating with TfGM to make sure existing smartcard services are maintained and that concessionary car holders can later transition to new providers.

A TfGM spokesperson said: “Given [our] commitment to deliver an integrated smart ticketing scheme, and with the opportunities afforded to us by the forthcoming Buses Bill, it is only right that TfGM re-thinks its approach to the ‘get me there’ scheme to ensure that it is flexible and fit for the future. This has allowed TfGM to bring in a range of experts to look more closely at just what customers want and how we expect their needs to change.”

The future roll-out of the scheme to rail passengers is depends on who wins the franchise competitions for the next Northern and TransPennine franchises. The winners of both competitions are due to be announced in December.  The ‘get me there’ website says: “Once the new train operating franchise has been awarded, we'll be working very closely with them to bring get me there to rail services as soon as possible.”

More details on the roll-out of the ‘get me there’ scheme will be revealed in the next few months and travel efficiency developments are expected to be announced later this year.


Jon B   08/10/2015 at 12:27

Why can't they just use Oyster? Is it really that expensive? Lots of people outside London already have Oyster cards for visits there and are used to the system. Failing that, why not just go for Contactless payment? Lots of people use contactless credit or debit cards, most banks issue them by default, and you wouldn't then need to develop your own bespoke card system.

RTM   08/10/2015 at 14:43

Four letters - ITSO! And contactless payment is on its way too, as we reported last year: Transport for Greater Manchester says: “With a contactless card, you’ll be able to simply touch in and touch out at the start and end of every journey. The cost of all your journeys during the course of the day will be totted up and then deducted from your bank account overnight. “However many journeys you make during the day, you will never be charged more than the all zones one-day travelcard fare. On top of that, the fares for your individual journeys will be at a discount compared to the cost of a printed ticket.” TfGM told RTM: “Our message to customers using contactless is that no matter how many journeys they make in a day, they will never be charged more than the price of a daily travelcard.”

Lutz   12/03/2016 at 11:45

Why the emphasis on the fact that Atos is a private company? Is it being implied that the system could not be delivered by a private sector business and that it should have been delivered by a public sector body? If so, how is is pertinent? If the obstacles were technical they would have been no different to either party. If it was funding of infrastructure and services that would most likely have been due to problems with the terms of the contract which would indicate problems with both parties to the contracts.

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