‘Walrus’ travel cards scheme launched

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Merseyrail train. © Flickr/ Creative Commons/ Matthew Black

Merseyrail train. © Flickr/ Creative Commons/ Matthew Black

New Oyster-style bus, train and ferry electronic travel cards are to be introduced to Merseyside.

The city is set to become one of the top regions outside London for smart ticketing transactions in a scheme by Saveaway.

The electronic smartcard, known as the ‘Walrus’, will be brought in for the Wirral at the end of November, and follow across Merseyside by the end of March 2015.

The tickets will be available to buy from 800 PayPoint outlets across the city and surrounding areas.

Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel, believes this is just the beginning, with new ticket products and innovative ways of buying them being developed over the next few years.

He said: “Saveaway is just the start. We have to start somewhere. We were keen to get smart ticketing underway but we are taking a reasoned, incremental approach to it.

“The recommendations in the ticketing review will set the direction for where we go next. We want the products on the cards not just to be electronic versions of what already exists, as that’s not really adding value. We want to develop tickets fit for the modern traveller, ones that offer convenience, choice and flexibility in when and how they purchase travel.

“We’re thinking of the bigger picture and want to start taking our customers on a journey –  a journey we have to take in order to have a world class network with services to match.”

Cashless buses are also being launched in Greater Manchester, Tyne and Wear and Yorkshire.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband told the BBC that bus services outside London “fail to serve the public interest”.

The chief executive of StageCoach Group, Martin Griffiths told the BBC that this is unnecessary.  He said: “This uncosted and unnecessary plan would land people in England’s biggest city regions overnight with a tax bill running to hundreds of millions of pounds, as well as leading to higher bus fares.”

About Bradd Chambers, JMU Journalism