Scottish bus firms in smart ticketing pledge
Major bus firms have given a boost to plans for a Scotland-wide travel smart card which can be used across public transport networks.
They have pledged to bring in multi-operator smart ticketing for millions of bus passengers across Scotland over the next year.
The firms include Lothian Buses, First, Stagecoach, McGill's and XPlore Dundee.
They said the move would pave the way for "seamless" travel between bus, rail, ferry and subway.
Technical work on the scheme has already begun.
It will build on existing smart platforms already used by individual operators.
The project aims to make smart ticketing available to about three-quarters of the Scottish population over the course of 2017.
The plan is to launch interoperable, bus-to-bus, smart ticketing across Scotland's largest cities - Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh - and surrounding areas.
Once in place, customers will be able to store multi-operator tickets electronically on a smart card rather than using paper tickets.
Scotland's major bus operators have also pledged to co-operate over the introduction of a single standard "e-purse", a Scotland-wide scheme which will be developed by Transport Scotland.
The idea is to enable customers to top up their smart cards with funds - similar to the way an Oyster card works in London.
The smart cards will feature a common "Saltire Card" logo.
Fiona Kerr, chairwoman of the Confederation of Passenger Transport in Scotland and managing director of First Bus in Scotland, said: "With 80% of all public transport journeys in Scotland made by bus, we're working closely together as an industry to give our passengers what they want.
"Delivering smarter, faster, integrated travel will save them both time and money, and will complement our existing smart and mobile ticketing offerings which are available across all of our bus networks in Scotland."
The Scottish government originally announced plans for an integrated Saltire Card in 2012.
Transport Minister Derek Mackay said: "The use of smart technology, using one card to fulfil many purposes, forms part of the Scottish government's long-term vision that all journeys on Scotland's bus, rail, ferry, subway and tram networks can be made using some form of smart ticketing or payment.
"This announcement is great news for public transport users across Scotland as it sees the bus industry on the cusp of delivering multi-operator ticketing and paves the way for multi-modal ticketing.
"This will offer passengers increased flexibility and value for money while reducing the need to purchase multiple tickets, while also using a common 'saltirecard' branding making it easily identifiable.
This week Scottish Labour 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".