ERDF funding - Smart Pay Grant Fund


ERDF logo The Smart Pay Grant Fund, part of our European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) Low Carbon Travel and Transport (LCTT) supported programme, is open to transport operators, Local Authorities, and Regional Transport Partnerships that provide commercial bus services to the general public in Scotland.

The aim of the fund is to provide financial support to upgrade, replace or procure new Electronic Ticketing Machines (ETM) to accept contactless (cEMV) smart payments and support licence fees for this service.

This more convenient payment method makes access to public transport easier and aims to encourage passenger journeys and a reduce reliance on the car, lowering carbon emissions, and improving our air quality.

We are offering access to a £1.1 million Grant Fund, consisting of 40% ERDF matched by 60% Transport Scotland allocated budget, to support bus operators with their investment for the above purpose.

The Grant Fund will be made available for distribution over a three year period (2018-2021) or until funds have been fully expended, whichever is soonest.


The Smart Pay Grant Fund is open for applications to support provision of a smart payment cEMV acceptance to passengers throughout Scotland.

Transport operators or public bodies, such as Local Authorities or Regional Transport Partnerships, who operate commercial passenger transport services, are eligible to apply.

Applicants will need to demonstrate how they meet the essential criteria below and will be expected to report on uptake for evaluation and audit purposes.

Applications put forward for consideration of funding from the Smart Pay Grant Fund will be checked for initial eligibility prior to being progressed to assessment.

The following eligibility conditions have been developed to address State Aids, meet ERDF requirements and mitigate risk.

Applicants must:

  • be a Scottish bus operator of “local services” or a Local Authority / Regional Transport Partnership registered with the Traffic Commissioner for Scotland
  • provide a commercial service(s) in Scotland available to the general public
  • have a cEMV agreed merchant account or be in the process of arranging one.
  • meet SME financial margins - that is have an annual turnover of less than £44.5 million or balance sheet worth of £38.27 million or less
  • have an ETM estate of less than 250 machines
  • currently operate or be in a position to procure, upgrade, and manage, as per above funding package, ITSO compliant ETM cEMV compatible equipment
  • be able to demonstrate that cEMV will be sustainable on eligible services for a 5 year period from date of receipt of initial funding
  • have reliable connectivity at depot or on service route to permit transaction data periodically as a minimum
  • agree to provide quarterly smart travel data to Transport Scotland for European Funding audit purposes.

Further detail on meeting the criteria is in the guidance document in the 'How to apply' section.


The Smart Pay Challenge Fund has a total of £1.1m allocated to it from the ERDF LCTT Programme (40%) and Transport Scotland (60%).

Eligible organisations may apply for:

£1000 per ETM

This is towards procurement costs of a replacement or new ETM to provide a cEMV capability.

This is to support operators who do not have ETMs or have ETMs not capable of supporting cEMV, eg Tickerter 100, Vix ERG, Parkeon Wayfarer 200, Parkeon TGX150. Note Ticketer handhelds cannot be upgraded to cEMV currently.

£350 per ETM

This is towards procurement costs of an upgrade to existing ETMs to provide a cEMV capability.

This is to support operators who already operate ETMs which are capable of providing a cEMV capability with an upgrade, eg Ticketer 200.

£100 per ETM

This is per year for a period of three years to support licence or subscription fees.

How to apply

The current round of the Smart Pay Grant Fund (Round 1) is open from 12 November 2018 until 14 December 2018.

It's expected that further rounds will be available during the subsequent two financial years, as further Scottish Government funding is secured, until the Grant Fund has been expended. The further rounds will be advertised prior to launch.


  • Download a copy of the application form and guidance or email for further information.
  • Submit a completed application form and supporting evidence to by 14 December 2018 providing the specific information requested in the application form and guidance documents.
    (This is a Grant Fund so please make sure all information relevant to the project is included so it can be fully assessed. We may be in touch to clarify any of the details provided.)
  • An eligibility check and evaluation of the applications will be conducted by a Transport Scotland panel.
  • Applications will be processed on a first come first served basis.
  • We will provide feedback to both successful and unsuccessful applicants.

Funded projects

Smart Ticketing Challenge Fund

Previous smart ERDF supported Funds include the Smart Ticketing Challenge Fund. This provided Challenge Funding of up to 40%, to match funding provided by Local Authorities, Regional Transport Partnership (RTP) organisations or other public bodies, who wished to upgrade smart ticketing machines and electronic payment technology to support interoperable smart ticketing and payment in the local area.

This funding was available for applications between February 2016 to December 2017.

During this period we are pleased to have supported:

Round 1

  1. Aberdeenshire Council - Aberdeenshire Smart Ticketing Back-Office
    Supporting smaller operators with the transition of the grasshopper scheme from paper to smart.
  2. SEStran (South East of Scotland Regional Transport Partnership) - SEStran Electronic Ticket Machine Project
    Supporting smaller operators to participate in the latest smart ticketing initiatives as well as added benefits of Real Time Passenger info.

Round 2

  1. Highland Council - Development of Highland Smart Ticketing
    Enhancing smaller operators’ ability to participate in a multi-operator scheme and supporting future plans for smart products for college/university students, schools and staff travel.
  2. Scottish Borders Council - In House Fleet Smart Ticketing Upgrade
    Upgrade our in house fleet vehicles with smart ticketing in order to be able to improve connectivity between our services, other commercial services and the Borders Railway.
  3. SEStran (South East of Scotland Regional Transport Partnership) - SEStran Electronic Ticket Machine Project 2
    Building upon SEStran’s previously successful bid to the Smart Ticketing Challenge Fund, upgrade of smart ticketing equipment on tendered passenger transport services operating within the SEStran area.