A COUNTY version of the hugely-popular Oyster card is set to replace the eXplore card which was scrapped last year.

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It would first be issued to young people to give them discounts on journeys to school, college or work – but could be extended to all ages in an attempt to make using public transport easier.

Ipswich could be the first area of the county to get the service because the town’s buses have already been fitted with scanners that can read the cards.

The news comes as a boost to the Star’s I Love Ipswich campaign.

County councillor with responsibility for transport, Guy McGregor, said officials were looking at how a scheme might work.

He said: “The county council had to scrap the eXplore card with great reluctance last year.

“We knew it was valued, but we simply could not afford to continue to fund it. We are now looking at introducing a new card that will enable young people to use it on bus services to get to school, college or to work.

“We want it to be like an Oyster card that you get in London so people can use it by just scanning it as they get on and off the bus or ultimately on trains as well.”

The scheme has the backing of council leader Mark Bee who revealed that talks were under way at yesterday’s annual meeting of the county council.

He told the meeting: “The latest developments in technology make possible a new approach, and I’m delighted to be able to announce today that we are to begin work on developing an Oyster-type card for young people, to help provide reduced travel costs for education, training and work-related travel.

“Details are still being drawn up, and we will be talking to the bus operators and others, but, having determined that the technology is available, the cabinet is pushing ahead with plans to develop the scheme – one of the first of its kind, if not the first, in the country.”

Ipswich Buses managing director Malcolm Robson said his vehicles were already fitted with scanners that could read cards.

He said: “We would love to see the introduction of something like the Oyster Card in Suffolk. It would make it much easier for our passengers to use our services.

“One issue is that if the cards were to be used in buses run by several different operators they would have to be administered by the council – if we tried to do it on our own there would be problems with competition law.”

Mr McGregor said the council knew Ipswich Buses was ready for the new technology – but the officials needed to talk to other operators about getting it into buses.

Ipswich Buses have already supported our I Love Ipswich campaign and this signals another boost for the town.

7 comments

  • Its all very well making public transport faster and easier but it also needs to be far more affordable which it simply isnt if you live a few miles or more from the town centre. Free transport to college for students would be a dream but that was taken away by the council years ago!

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    MZH

    Friday, May 25, 2012

  • Smartcard technology has beenfits, but it also has many costs and complications. Oyster has cost over £1bn to introduce in London and is constantly being exposed to have "issues" with incorrect charging, plus of course the privacy issues of every movement one makes being monitored! In London the Met ask Tfl for over 60 cards a week to be checked for activity and where. Another issue is if one was to pre-pay a large sum of money, that is money given for a service not yet taken, i.e. paying upfront! A major benefit for the Operators but not necessarily for hard-pressed consumers. A simple easy and cheap to install and use system would have benefits, but the signs are ominous in that around the Country numerous schemes now proliferate with no common accord between Operators.

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    Weary Traveller

    Friday, May 25, 2012

  • Instead of introducing cards the councilbus companies should concentrate on improving the service available to residents. I live by the Golf on Foxhall Road and there is no service back from town after 18:55 and no service at all on Sundays. Little wonder that on the rare occasions when I use a bus they run into town almost empty.

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    dj

    Friday, May 25, 2012

  • It's one of the few things I miss about not living in London any more. I would go into town or other places more if I had an Oyster Card.

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    Mrs Evans

    Friday, May 25, 2012

  • Truly crazy Suffolk! Has it taken long enough to make this radical decision!

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    Dot

    Friday, May 25, 2012

  • The Oyster card scheme works really well in London and a similar scheme here in Suffolk would be most welcome. But this will cost money to set up. I thought we were assured by Mark Bee not more than 12 months ago that "there is no more money" and that huge savings had to be made? That was why the eXplore card, amongst other services, was scrapped. Now the County Council announces this grand project which seems to fly in the face of their previous parsimony. So were we lied to back in 2011? Surely all of those cuts and divestments weren't cynical political ideology, as so many people claimed at the time? What will be the private sector's involvement in this? Who is going to making money out of it? Any chance of EADT reporters doing some investigative reporting for a change instead of just regurgitating Council press releases?

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    Origami Penguin

    Friday, May 25, 2012

  • To be honest I find the new card reading machines on Ipswich buses much slower than the old ones. They've been in place for some time, I found them slow at the start but thought I would get used to them- still find them very slow however.

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    K Mcc

    Saturday, May 26, 2012

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