New concessionary travel system takes flight in the islands

From this month, the 50 or so residents on Papa Westray and North Ronaldsay, who are eligible each year for 12 free return air trips to the Orkney mainland, will be able to travel with just their National Entitlement Cards, rather than a book of paper tickets.

New electronic ticket machines at Kirkwall Airport will replace the current paper tickets, making journeys smoother and keeping track of remaining entitlements easier.

Transport Minister Derek Mackay said:

“This innovative project is a welcome development in smart ticketing which will benefit card holders in the Orkney islands.

"The use of smart technology to enable one card to fulfil many purposes is aligned to Transport Scotland's long term vision that all journeys on Scotland's air, bus, rail, ferry, subway and tram networks can be accessed using some form of smart ticketing or payment.”

The new infrastructure will be supported by a dedicated back office management team located at Transport Scotland to ensure Orkney Islands Council have the necessary support required to maximise use of the smart technology.

The project is being delivered by Transport Scotland in partnership with Orkney Islands Council and is expected to provide better management and customer information as well as saving the local authority printing, postage and administration costs each year.

The scheme is similar to a smart card introduced by the Council’s Transportation Service in 2012 for concessionary travel on board the local inter-isles ferries.

Orkney Islands Council Convener Steven Heddle, said:

“Introducing smart cards on our ferries to replace paper-based concessionary ticketing has proved successful in reducing our admin costs and making concessionary travel much more straightforward.

“We could see a parallel system was needed for our concessionary travel residents in Papa Westray and North Ronaldsay, where we use planes to provide free travel to the mainland.

“So we’re pleased that working with Transport Scotland we’ve been able to make use of some of the more sophisticated technology through the National Entitlement Card to help manage the local travel concessions we provide via Loganair flights.

“Our vision is that this will pave the way for linking up more transport services to smart ticketing in Orkney.”

Billy Muir, a National Entitlement Card holder and resident of North Ronaldsay, represents his community on transport matters.

He said: “The inter-island air service is literally our lifeline. As islanders we depend on the plane to get to the Orkney Mainland for everything from shopping and business meetings to visits to the dentist, doctor and the hospital.

“For North Ronaldsay, the plane provides our ‘bus’ service to the Mainland – so it makes perfect sense for our concessionary flights to be included on our ‘bus passes’. It will make travel easier for us and is a move we warmly welcome.”

Notes to editors

• It will be valid for card holders making journeys using Loganair to travel between Kirkwall and their place of residency located either at Papa Westray or North Ronaldsay each year

• The proposed SMART ticket will be loaded to a National Entitlement Cards which is currently used by over 60’s and disabled and persons living within the Orkney islands

• The new technology will meet the needs of Orkney Islands Councils smart ticketing requirements and also provide far richer management information to better analyse customer travel data.


Sarah O’Loughlin, Press Officer, Transport Scotland 0141 272 7198

For Orkney islands Council transport queries :

David Hartley, Communications, Orkney Islands Council, Tel 01856 886348


Published 8 Jun 2015