The main aims of the NESTI Project
The introduction of a Region wide smart ticketing infrastructure on all public transport
The introduction of a single smart payment method accepted on all forms of public transport where every you see the symbol.
At a meeting of the Association of North East Councils in October 2009, the Local Authority Leaders and Elected Mayors agreed to commit a total of £10 million to the NESTI programme. They also agreed that the Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Aurthority (TWITA) would take on the role of Lead Authority, and Nexus would act as programme manager.
The NESTI project will be delivered in two distinct phases over the next 4 years. Phase 1 is the confirmed programme that is currently being delivered whilst Phase 2 is the intended programme that will build on the achievements of Phase 1.
Working with public transport operators Phase 1 will deliver or assist in the delivery of the following:
Major bus operators will install smart electronic ticket machines on all their buses operating in the NESTI Region
Nexus will install smart ticket gates, validators, and ticket vending machines on Metro stations and ticket office machines at its Travel Shops
Nexus will implement a Back Office which any North East local authority (that is also a Travel Concession Authority) could use to manage its Concessionary Travel Scheme
A range of ways for customers to buy operators’ smart ticketing products and load them to a smartcard, via a regional retail network;
A region wide marketing programme will explain the benefits of smart ticketing to customers and encourage them to use it to access public transport.
Once phase one delivery is complete, it will be possible to travel almost anywhere in the North East by bus and Metro using a single smartcard. When customers see the NESTI symbol they will know that travel using a smartcard is possible. Concessionary pass holders will be able to use their existing cards as a smartcard wherever the authority that issued it decides to ‘go smart’ by using the Back Office.
It is possible to refer to this phase as ‘confirmed’ because all three major bus operators have confirmed their intention to participate subject to grant funding being made available and Nexus has a confirmed programme with a supplier to install and enable equipment for Metro including a Back Office and a smart retailing website.
Working with public transport operators Phase 2 will deliver or assist in the delivery of the following:
- A Regional Pay As You Travel product will be developed which allows customers to pay as they travel using a smartcard
- A retail network will be developed that allows customers to put products on their smartcards at ticket machines in key locations around the North East (numbers and sites yet to be identified)
- Develop options with smaller bus operators to access smart electronic ticket machines
- Interfaces will be built to expand NESTI to work alongside regional rail and into wider council uses
Once phase two delivery is complete, customers will see greatly improved access to public transport; they will be able to ‘top up’ their smartcard easily, and use it to Pay As You Travel wherever the NESTI symbol is displayed. They will also start to use their transport smartcard beyond transport, for example to access local council facilities.
The delivery of stage two will rely on commercial agreements that have yet to be agreed.
Customers will know that if they have a smartcard with the NESTI symbol on it, it will be accepted for travel wherever they see it displayed (provided of course that they have loaded products to the smartcard that are valid for travel on the service they are using).
Because the major bus operators and Metro will display the NESTI symbol prominently on or near their ticketing equipment, it will soon become widely recognised in the North East as a sign of common acceptance similar to the Visa or Mastercard symbols, but specific to public transport in the North East.
It is unlikely that many customers will stop to think about what the NESTI symbol means, particularly because it looks more like a universal symbol than a commercial brand. But through time NESTI symbol will start to improve integration, because customers will begin to realise that they do not need separate tickets or smartcards wherever they see it; they can just use the one.
In addition the NESTI project will also provide:
The ability to use the Regional Pay as You Travel product on all public transport – Buses, Metros Trains and Ferries displaying the NESTI symbol will inform customers that they are able to purchase at minimum the equivalent cash fare with their smart card.
Integration with Local Authority Services – In the future it will be possible to expand the use of the smart card beyond public transport with the potential to introduce local authority applications on the cards.
Faster boarding times – Smart tickets will enable faster boarding times by reducing the amount of cash fares.
Improved fraud detection – Smart readers are able to detect fraudulently produced ENCTS and season products helping to reduce the amount of fraud on the network.
Access to Local Authority tenders – In the near future all Local Authority tendered services will require smart technology on buses; the NESTI project ensures that all bus operators are able to access these tenders.
Reduced cash handling charges – The use of the Pay as You Travel product will reduce the level of cash handling undertaken helping to reduce costs.
Reduced ticket issuance costs – Smart tickets are stored on the card reducing the costs associated with issuing paper tickets.
Access to enhanced BSOG payments – The introduction of Smart ETMs on eligible buses will allow operators to access the additional 8% BSOG payment.