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Saturday 16 December 2017

Not-so-smart bus and rail cards

Two separate passes for commuters as €55m integrated ticketing delayed

Paul Melia

COMMUTERS renewing annual bus and rail tickets are to be issued with two so-called 'smart' cards -- although the original idea behind the concept was for just one.

State transport company CIE admitted yesterday that commuters will be issued with two separate cards -- one for the bus, and one for the train -- when they renew their annual travel passes from this month.

This is because a €55m project to develop a one-size-fits-all Smartcard for bus, train and Luas in the capital is still not ready, despite being first promised in 2002.

In a letter to customers, the company said that annual bus and rail passes would no longer be on one ticket. Instead, there will be two.

The company warned commuters to carry both cards at all times, or run the risk of having the pass taken by inspectors.

"Previously tickets issued by Dublin Bus and Iarnrod Eireann used a magnetic strip to gain entry/exit at rail stations and as you may be aware this technology can result in both ticket corruption and failure," CIE warned travellers.

"Customers will now receive two Smartcards, one for use on the bus, and one for use on the rail. Both cards must be carried together at all times.



Reliability

"Tickets used separately will be withdrawn by our ticket inspection staff.

"There will be some initial adjustment required but we are confident that the reliability of the Smartcard validation technology will be of great benefit to all of our customers."

The 'not-so-smart card' -- officially called the Integrated Ticketing Project -- has already cost taxpayers €32m and the bill will reach €55m by the time the project is finally delivered at the end of 2011.

Commonly used in other cities, 'smart' cards allow commuters to travel on bus, rail and tram without having to buy tickets for each leg of the journey.

Instead, they pre-pay and wave cards near magnetic readers installed in train stations and at tram and bus stops at the start and end of their journey.

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

A spokesman for CIE said the two-card introduction was a "short-term measure".

"This is for people who hold annual bus and rail tickets," he said. "If you ordered it through Dublin Bus, it issued it. If you ordered it through Iarnrod Eireann, it would issue it.

"From now, only Iarnrod Eireann will issue the ticket. This is a short-term measure until the Smartcard system is fully rolled out next year."

The Integrated Ticketing Board, part of the Railway Procurement Agency, said the first phase of testing would begin before the end of the year.

The first phase would involve a pilot scheme between Luas and Dublin Bus. Iarnrod Eireann would be be added to the system in the middle of next year.

Other private transport companies in Dublin would be added late in 2011.

Irish Independent

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