Northern Ireland

New smartcard for NI bus and rail journeys

Buses in Belfast
Image caption Contactless payments for Ulsterbus passengers would begin in 2019, said Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard

A new smartcard is to be introduced to make buying bus and train tickets quicker and easier in Northern Ireland.

Infrastructure Minister Chris Hazzard said the £45m investment project would deliver a modernised ticketing system which would "transform travel" and lead to more people using public transport.

Almost 300 new ticketing machines will be installed at bus stops and train halts.

The scheme is expected to be put in place in 2018.

Mr Hazzard said the new programme for government envisages increasing the number of people using public transport.

Contactless payments

"A high quality public transport infrastructure is fundamental to encouraging people to use our buses and trains," said Mr Hazzard.

This innovative ticketing system will deliver long term benefits and transform how we access public transport across the region," he 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."

The minister added it was expected the scheme would begin to be implemented in 2018 with the new Bus Rapid Transit System.

"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," he said.

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