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Tuesday 2 September 2014

Great Leap forward as commuter card unveiled

Paul Melia

Published 06/06/2011 | 05:00

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THEY may have never heard of it before, but this card is going to became a major part of the lives of commuters.

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Meet the Leap card -- the so-called 'smart card' coming soon to your wallet or purse.

London has the Oyster, Hong Kong the Octopus and now, the Irish Independent can reveal, the integrated ticketing system for Dublin, first promised in 2002, will be launched in three months.

It will be called the Leap card. It's almost 10 years late and will have cost €55m to develop, but when it comes online in late August it could transform how hundreds of thousands of public transport users comeinto the capital every day.

Smart cards allow commuters to travel on bus, rail and tram without having to buy tickets for each leg of a journey.

Instead, they pre-pay and wave cards at magnetic readers at the each end of their journey.

A computer system calculates the appropriate fare and deducts it from the customer's account.

The 40,000 holders of smart cards on Iarnrod Eireann (30,000) and Luas (10,000), will immediately have their cards replaced with the Leap card.

Dublin Bus would not give an exact figure for the number of its commuters with smart cards. However, it says that average boarding times have reduced from seven to four seconds since its card system was rolled out in 2008.

It emerged last year that transport companies plan to increase cash fares by up to 10pc in a move to encourage people to use the Leap card.

The National Transport Authority (NTA) said that the 'Leap' name was chosen to convey the ease with which commuters would move between Dublin Bus, Luas, Bus Eireann and Iarnrod Eireann services.

"The name is descriptive of a hassle-free way to travel, is easy to remember, and is visually linked through a frog graphic," a spokeswoman said.

Next week, up to 50 people will begin the final stage of testing between Dublin Bus and Luas services, with another 500 recruited in the coming months.

In July, Iarnrod Eireann will be added to the system, and Bus Eireann will join before the end of the year. The cards will also be issued to holders of annual bus, rail or Luas cards.

Private bus operators will eventually be added.

Irish Independent

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