Scotland business

Scottish Labour proposes transport smart card

Tram Image copyright PA

Labour has set out proposals to create a single "smart ticket" that would cover all transport services across Scotland.

The policy is part of a plan to create a transport system that "works for commuters".

The party also wants bus services to be regulated in an effort to protect important but unprofitable routes.

The Scottish government said it was already rolling out plans for an integrated smart card.

The other main political parties will set out their transport policies ahead of the Holyrood election on 5 May.

Scottish Labour said its plans would be compulsory, apply to all transport operators and would be rolled out within the first year of a Scottish Labour government.

'Patchwork of services'

People would be able to use contactless credit or debit cards to pay for the smart card by the end of the next parliament, it said.

The Scottish government announced plans for an integrated Saltire Card - similar to London's Oyster card - in 2012, which the government said were now being rolled out.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said the Scottish transport system was currently a "patchwork of services" which had left many areas "with no decent provision".

Image copyright SPT
Image caption The Scottish government said it was introducing systems so the same cards could be used on ScotRail and the Glasgow subway and hoped they would be used across the transport network

She added: "That's why we will legislate for an integrated transport system with regulated bus services and one smart ticket that can take you across Scotland.

"People should be able to travel the length and breadth of our country with one card in their pocket. In 2012, we were told this wasn't far off, but in 2016 we're still waiting.

"London has had a single smart card for 13 years and have recently started taking payments using contactless credit and debit cards. The technology exists - all we need is the political will to deliver it."

Statistics published in January showed the number of people using public transport in Scotland over the last nine years had fallen by 6%, while traffic on the country's roads went up by 2%.

'Missed the bus'

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: "Labour have missed the bus with these out-of-date proposals.

"We are already rolling out national smart card plans across ScotRail, introducing systems so the same cards can be used on ScotRail and the Glasgow subway and working with our bus and ferry companies to ensure the Saltire national concessionary travel cards used by 1.9 million travellers are usable across the transport network."

He said 35% of bus journeys were already made using smart cards and by 2019 more than 60% of rail journeys would be made by smart card.

"Scotland is strides ahead of anywhere else in the UK as it is bringing together multiple operators, with multiple fares systems," Mr Mackay added.

"Comparisons to London, where there is one service provider with a single fares system are quite simply misleading - and demonstrate a fundamental lack of understanding of smart ticketing systems."

The Scottish government has said it invests more than £1bn annually in public transport and other sustainable transport options to encourage people out of their car.

It has also committed to a £5bn programme of investment in Scotland's railways by 2019, and has said it invests £250m every year through the Bus Service Operators Grant and Concessionary Travel scheme.

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