Oyster-style card 'not a sustainable fit' for Edinburgh claim Lothian buses

An integrated ticketing system is due to be in place by 2025/26 according to council plans.

Sunday, 17th November 2019, 2:04 pm
A mocked-up version of a potential Edinburgh Oyster card (Photo: PA)

Lothian buses have said a London-style Oyster card is “not a sustainable fit” for the Capital, despite plans from Edinburgh City Council to have a fully integrated public transport ticketing system in place by 2025 or 2026.

It is understood that discussions behind closed doors between Lothian and the Scottish Government are ongoing about the potential for future technological upgrades to Lothian’s ticketing system - particularly the Ridacard - but that contactless payment is viewed by the company as the best fit for customers.

Contactless was introduced on Lothian services earlier this year and has quickly become one of the most popular ways of paying for travel on the buses.

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Lothian have said an Oyster card style system would not be a "sustainable fit" (Photo: TSPL)

A spokesman for Lothian said: “Lothian always strive to offer the very best solutions for our customers, which is why we were the first operator in Scotland to introduce a capped contactless system earlier this year.

“Following extensive research it is our view that London’s Oyster card scheme is not a sustainable fit for purpose, long term solution for our customers.

“As technology evolves, Lothian remains committed to working closely with The Scottish Government and other operators on various ticketing solutions to deliver the most convenient and best value product for the residents and visitors of Edinburgh and the Lothians.”

Lothian did not detail the type of research nor how they came to the conclusion an Oyster-style system was not suitable, but it is understood they will work with the council to help establish the best step forward for integrated ticketing in the capital, provided it meets customers’ needs.

Edinburgh lagging behind

Edinburgh lags behind other major cities including Glasgow with integrated ticketing, with Glasgow already having a card - called the Tripper - which travellers can use across five different bus companies and add ScotRail train tickets or Glasgow Subway tickets.

Lesley Macinnes, transport and environment convener at the council said she expects all transport operators in the city, including Lothian, to “play their part” in delivering a similar system in Edinburgh.

Within the council’s recent radical plans to change how public transport operates in the city centre, detailed in its City Centre Transformation strategy, such a system is due to be in place by 2025 or early 2026.

Cllr Macinnes said: “We have committed to providing seamless, integrated journeys for all modes of transport in Edinburgh, where interchange points are intuitive, affordable and easy to use, both as part of City Centre Transformation and under the wider draft City Mobility Plan.

“We recognise that providing an ease of transfer between different bus routes and other transport options is key to encouraging more people to use public transport and a range of sustainable travel options.

“We expect all relevant transport operators such as Lothian buses, Edinburgh Trams and the cycle hire scheme in the first instance to play their part in achieving this for Edinburgh residents.

“Timescales set under CCT will provide a framework for real progress in this area. We will of course continue to work closely with closely with transport operators and the Scottish Government to achieve this.”