Smart ticketing for public transport in Nottingham set for £700k boost

By Joseph Locker

A decision has been made to spend up to £788,000 to continue providing a concessionary fare scheme for older people as well as a smart ticketing service for public transport in Nottingham.

The decision was made by Nottingham City Council so it can continue to offer services for those who use public transport, including NET trams and NCT buses, across the city.

According to the council the decision concerns the public transport smart ticketing team, which manages the statutory concessionary fare scheme for older people and those with mobility issues.

It also develops and sells products for the multi-operator Robin Hood smart-card scheme.

The team processes multi-million pound transactions through a back office, all through ticket machines located on streets throughout the Greater Nottingham area, via the Robin Hood card and council websites and smartphones, as well as an over-the-counter service in the Tourist Information Centre.

To support this work, the council says, there are existing services which will be tendered (an offer to external companies to carry out the work) during the 2021/22 financial year.

This is because the council does not have the relevant skills internally.

Councillor Rosemary Healy, portfolio holder for transport, said: “This funding will enable us to continue providing the statutory concessionary fare schemes for older people and those with mobility difficulties, as well as the innovative multi-operator Robin Hood card scheme.

“We work with public transport operators in the city and beyond, including Beeston, Hucknall and West Bridgford, to offer one smartcard enabling people unlimited travel with multiple operators for a capped price every day.

"This joined up approach has meant Nottingham has one of the best and most used public transport networks outside London, something we can all be proud of."

The total expenditure was broken down into two recommended decisions.

The first concerns smart ticketing technical support, of which £95,000 will go towards services provided by France-based public transport consultancy company Systra, while a further £93,000 will go towards BACIT for smart ticketing hardware and software support.

The second recommended decision concerns contracts that are to be tendered during the 2021/22 financial year, up to a value of £600,000.

The Robin Hood card scheme brought in a total revenue of around £9m per year before the pandemic.

The scheme, which replaced the use of Mango cards, also offers discounted travel for under 19s and students, and the council says the introduction of the Robin Hood ticketing app last year meant customers could top up their cards on their phone, without having to visit a ticket machine.

The council says not approving the spend would mean a loss of key support services for the team, leading to "an inability to manage and deliver the services currently provided, poor quality services to citizens through sub-standard maintenance arrangements and a loss of resilience in software systems which underpin statutory Concessionary Fares and the Robin Hood card."

Councillor Healy added: “Supporting our buses and trams is important for our Covid recovery, and essential to reduce the city’s carbon emissions, clean up our air, and reduce congestion. It’s thanks to our forward-thinking initiatives that we have electric and biogas bus fleets, and an electric tram powered by renewable energy.

“By continuing and improving our smart ticketing offer we can make travelling by public transport even easier, resulting in health benefits for all our citizens and helping us on our way to Carbon Neutral 2028.”


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