Popping onto Metro or bus is about to get much easier with the launch of the biggest smartcard initiative outside London.
Pop is the name of the new travel smartcard from Nexus set to be rolled out across the Tyne & Wear region this year.
Nexus bosses unveiled the Pop card brand on a Metro train on 14th February at St James station.
The Pop branded train is now in service across the network, staffed today by Pop ambassadors urging the public to Pop the Question about everything to do with smart travel.
Nexus is investing £15m from Government funds in smart ticketing, all part of the Metro: all change modernisation programme. This will include the replacement of 225 Metro ticket machines and the introduction of gates at key stations and ‘smart’ validators across the system.
The investment forms one part of the North East Smart Ticketing Initiative (NESTI), a project led by local councils across North East England to spread smart ticketing across all local public transport from the Tees Valley through to the Scottish border.
Nexus passengers will start to get their regular season tickets and under 16 identification cards replaced with Pop cards now. Over the next year a phased rollout will allow more and more people to travel with a Pop card, whose functionality will develop into a full ‘pay as you ride’ option with stored cash balance on cards in 2012.
Bernard Garner, Director General of Nexus, said: “Smartcards will soon be used by hundreds of thousands of public transport users, and we are one of the first regions in the UK to fully embrace the future of travel.
“The Pop card will make using public transport so much easier than now, and opens the way for people to get better value and pay more flexibly.
“Today marks the start of a phased programme to introduce people to the benefits of this new smartcard technology steadily. This means people will have time to get used to having the cards and start to appreciate what they can do.”
From today only traditional season tickets for different periods will be carried on the Pop Card, but in future all passengers will be able to put ‘credit’ on a Pop card and then use it to pay as they ride.
Nexus aims to bring in new multi-ticket options for Pop card-holders to buy, offering new value for passengers with exactly what they choose to have on their card changing as they need it to.
Bernard Garner added, “We came up with the name Pop because it’s a simple, attractive and catchy name for a simple, attractive product we are sure is going to catch on. The phrase ‘popping on the Metro’ has taken on an exciting new meaning.”