Last month saw the exciting launch of a new smart travel card for residents in South Hampshire – the ‘Solent Go’ travel card allows residents to use the bus, ferry (and even hovercraft!) to travel all over South Hampshire without needing the exact change to hand. This all got us to thinking whether smart ticketing could be the way forward in making sustainable travel even more convenient for all.
A similar system, the Oyster card, has been in use in London for a number of years and has been an unmitigated success. Of course, given its size and density, London has a more developed public transport system than other areas of the country (and has the significant benefit of the Underground system) so could similar schemes work in other areas of the country?
Whilst using the bus or train can be the easiest and quickest way to reach your destination, one of the main reasons we come across for people not using public transport is the cost and the potential inconvenience when you need to have the right change available. Smartcards potentially remove both of these concerns, firstly by having a pre-paid card you don’t need to have the right amount of cash on you (or indeed any cash!) to use the bus but also by combining journeys or buying week or month-long tickets the cost of your journey will be reduced.
While there is limited research into the impact smartcards can have on travel behaviour, we believe that smart ticketing is a crucial element in integrating public transport modes and routes in order to make journeys by bus, train or tram (or all three!) the best way to get around for everyone. As such we will be keeping a keen eye on the success of the Solent Go travel card – and will be trying it out for ourselves!