London-style Oyster cards on the way

The new contactless payment system will cost Translink 45m to implement
The new contactless payment system will cost Translink 45m to implement

Translink will introduce London-style Oyster cards’ and contactless payments on buses and trains, it has been announced.

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said it will cost £45 million to modernise Translink’s 15-year-old ticketing system and bring it in line with cities like London.

The changes will be introduced on the new Bus Rapid Transit System in 2018 and will be rolled out on the Metro and Ulsterbus services the following year, according to Translink’s chief executive Chris Conway. Contactless card payments are currently being phased in on the rail network and the wider changes should be in place by 2021.

Announcing the changes, the minister said: “The current ticketing system was introduced 15 years ago and serves around 80 million passenger journeys every year.

“This programme will deliver a modern, efficient and convenient ticketing system that will benefit passengers and lead to greater efficiencies. It will improve the passenger experience.”

Mr Conway said: “Exciting enhancements will include the acceptance of contactless payment cards on bus, e-purse payments like the London-style Oyster card’, ticket vending machines, gated rail stations and an online app for customers to manage their accounts and top-up their smartcards.

“Implementation is expected to start in 2018 with the new Bus Rapid Transit System. Following this, in 2019 we plan to introduce contactless payments for Metro and Ulsterbus services and customers will enjoy further technology enhancements as we phase in this new era in Translink ticketing which will attract more people to use the bus and train as travel options.”

Mr Hazzard added: “The new Programme for Government envisages increasing the number of people using public transport. A high-quality public transport infrastructure is fundamental to encouraging people to use our buses and trains. This innovative ticketing system will deliver long-term benefits and transform how we access public transport across the region.”

The contract to introduce the changes has been awarded to Parkeon, a firm that started with a single parking terminal in France in the 1960s but now boasts offices all over the world.

Mr Conway said he was looking forward to working with them.