Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Transport systems that use smartcard in Britain and Ireland

Logos for various smartcard transport systems.
Logos belong to their respective trademarks

Smartcard is a system where you can top up on pay as you go smartcard or have season tickets like weekly, monthly or yearly for use on the transport system.
Various cities around the world which have a smartcard system to travel by bus or train services, so you can use it for pre pay so you don’t have to fiddle with the change where you travel.
Some countries around the world like Hong Kong which have the Octopus Card, Singapore have NETS and Sydney, Australia have Opal Card for use on their transport system. In future years, the paper ticket will be phased out in order to save money and concentrate more on the smartcard system. It will lead bus services to stop taking cash fares which make it smartcard only.

So I created a chart which shows smartcard systems, bus fares, day passes and weekly prices which is focused on Bus services from Great Britain and Ireland.

Smartcard System
Single Fare
Daily Price Cap/
Day bus saver
Weekly price
Northern Ireland



Various with discounts on some services

£9.99 for 3 days†

£15.50 (5 days)




Up to £19
Northern Ireland
£1.00 deposit

Up to £58

€5.00 deposit
Up to €2.50
€27.50 (Weekly Cap)

Up to £22
East Midlands

25% off of cash fare
West Yorkshire





£5.00 deposit




North East



Northern Ireland
£1.50 for card, Various fares

Bolton, Dundee & Thames Ditton





Brighton, Hove

Isle of Wight

North East


Southampton & Hampshire 

Up to £15.50



Up to £22
You can also use Contactless Bank card.
Note: List may not be accurate because some locations are phasing in their smartcard system for the transport bus services.

What is the advantage of the smartcard system for buses?
·         Fast boarding on buses as passengers don’t have to fiddle around for exact fare when paying for the bus fare.
·         You can reuse the smartcard many times.
·         You can check your balance online.
·         One service like London Buses can take Contactless Bank Card which gives them the same fare as the Oyster Card rate.
·         Enables open boarding on city bus services where you can board by any door and validate your fare by the door you board.
·         You save money from paying the full cash fare.
·         Easy for the transport system to give refunds when service got disrupted.
·         Can hold season tickets like weekly, monthly or yearly pass.
·         Have price caps so you don’t have to pay more than a day pass.
·         Can use the self service ticket machine to top up your smartcard.
·         Encourages the transport system to save money by dropping cash fares in popularity for smartcard system which also keeps fares low.

What are the disadvantages of the smartcard system for buses?
·         System would crash which causes the smartcards to stop validating fare, so the driver have to let passengers on for free. (One example is London Buses)
·         Can get broken or lost which you have to pay for a fee for replacement card.
·         Causes fare evasion on Proof of Payment Open Boarding services by having passengers not validating their smartcard.
·         Some transport services may require you to touch out because of fare zone system.

·         Can be hacked or cloned due to lack of security on some systems. 

So will the smartcard system causes buses to stop taking cash fares?
Yes, one example is London Buses where they already proposed to stop taking cash fares as the majority of passengers use the Oyster card or Contactless bank card to pay their bus fare.

What do you think it should be improved?
I think in my own opinion there should be an All-Country smartcard where you don’t have to change your smartcard when using different transport services in various locations.

I think smartcard really have improved lot on transport system where you don’t need to buy tickets constantly when you use the transport system, all you need to do is to top up money onto the card and then you can use it. Some smartcard systems have price caps which is equivalent to the day pass so you don’t end up paying more. It has also speeded up boarding on a bus which is there no need for conductors to collect fares on buses. All what passengers need to do is validate their fare on the card reader and then take a seat inside the bus.

Lastly, I think it’s one of the best ticketing for a transport system to have. 

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