Welsh Oyster travel card scheme faces delays

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Media captionOne card would cover all public transport in Wales

Plans to allow passengers to use a single travel card on public transport in Wales are facing severe delays.

Electronic smartcards will be available for use on buses next year, but train travellers face a five-year wait due to a lack of money.

The Welsh government says that renegotiating the train franchise is the reason.

Sustainable transport charity Sustrans says it will be hard to make a Welsh version of London's Oyster card work.

Oyster cards first were introduced in London nearly 10 years ago.

Passengers simply top the card up with money and every time they touch the electronic meter pad on the bus or on the train then funds are deducted.

'Simple idea'

Eighty per cent of all public transport journeys in London are made using Oyster cards.

In its national transport plan the Welsh government made a commitment to having a similar system in Wales by 2014.

But train travel will not be available with the Welsh travel card until 2018.

Lee Waters, director of the transport charity Sustrans Cymru, says the delay is not surprising.

"The Welsh transport system is very complicated," he said.

"This is a simple idea - it makes a lot of sense and it works in London but it works there because the government controls the buses and the trains.

"In Wales, there is complete fragmentation and it is very difficult for the Welsh government to translate a simple idea into action."

Electronic meters

The Welsh government says that renegotiating the train franchise is behind the delay.

"Given that there will be set up costs for the rail franchise operator and that the current franchise ends in 2018 it is most probable that the cards will only be fully functional when the new franchise is in place," said a spokesperson.

Bus companies already have the software in place. Electronic meters which have been installed to enable free travel for the over 60s will be adapted to accommodate the new travel cards.

Trials of the Wales Travel Card are currently under way on buses with roll out anticipated to start in 2013, a year before the original commitment.

But seamless travel between buses and trains will have to wait a few more years.

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