May 18 2013 Latest news:
By PAUL GEATER, local government correspondent
Friday, May 25, 2012
A COUNTY version of the hugely-popular Oyster card is set to replace the eXplore card which was scrapped last year.
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.