NESTI pay as you go smartcard pilot launched

Bus passengers in Durham are the first in the North East to try out new ‘Pay As You Go’ travel using a smart card instead of cash.

The North East Smart Ticketing Initiative (NESTI), a partnership of local authorities and transport operators, is piloting the technology in the latest phase of a roll-out aimed at making it easier for people to buy and make journeys.

The ITSO-compliant smart travel pilot is taking place with passenger volunteers on the 40B bus operated by Stanley Travel in partnership with the Durham County Council and Durham University, for travel between Durham Rail Station and the University.

Cllr Neil Foster, Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “We are delighted to be at the forefront in testing this new technology. It should make travel on public transport even more convenient and attract more passengers.”

Harvey Emms, Chair of the NESTI partnership board, said: “The Stanley Travel pilot is an important stepping stone in making a Pay As You Go smartcard a reality across the North East.

“NESTI is working together with other local bus operators and the Nexus Metro so in the future people will be able to use a Pay As You Go smartcard to pay for their public transport journeys across the North East.” 

Andrew Scott, Director of Stanley Travel, said “We are thrilled to be the first bus operator in the North East to trial Pay As You Go travel. It is an important step in modernising bus travel for the future”.

The pilot involves staff from Durham University using a NESTI Pay As You Go smartcard to pay for their bus fare, instead of using cash.

Professor Tim Burt, Dean for Environmental Sustainability added: “Durham University welcomes the opportunity to support and engage in the smartcard trial which will enable staff and students easier access to public transport.  The University is committed to sustainable travel and we feel this smartcard scheme will encourage more public transport users.  We look forward to the roll-out of the scheme in the near future.”

The pilot is taking place alongside a similar pilot with passengers on the Tyne and Wear Metro system.

Once these and other pilots are successfully completed, the plan is to make Pay As You Go Travel available across a wider range of local public transport operators in the North East, including bus companies Arriva, Go North East and Stagecoach.

The NESTI programme was established to deliver a smart ticketing infrastructure, including a multi-modal multi-operator pay as you go smartcard product that can be used on public transport operators across the region, from the Tees Valley to north Northumberland.

It has already provided grant support to make sure that around 1,000 buses in the region, as well as Metro stations, have a single technology to read smart tickets.

And more than a million journeys a week by older and disabled people with concessionary travel passes are logged through NESTI’s computers, helping reduce fraud and determine correct payments by councils to bus operators.

The pilot on Stanley Travel buses is the first time the NESTI pay as you go smartcard has been used for bus services in the North East.

Stanley Travel use Ticketer smart ticket machines which were purchased with the assistance of NESTI grant funding. The pilot is the result of a partnership approach between NESTI, Durham CC, Durham University and bus operator Stanley Travel.

The pilot users are asked to record details of their bus journeys using a travel diary and provide feedback about their experience of using the NESTI pay as you go smartcard.

The pilot will provide valuable feedback and data as to how the NESTI pay as you go product is used by bus customers.