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, was  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 was  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  offered  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 was initially available from 2018 and closed to new applications on 1st December 2022.  


The Smart Pay Grant Fund  opened 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, were  eligible to apply.

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

Applications put forward for consideration of funding from the Smart Pay Grant Fund were checked for initial eligibility prior to being progressed to assessment and processed on a rolling basis as received.

Funded projects

Smart Pay Grant Fund (SPGF) Round 1

Round one of the SPGF, which closed 14 December 2018, awarded £561,800 from the Scottish Government and European Regional Development Fund to support contactless payment solutions to potentially 4.5 million fare paying journeys right across Scotland.

Smart Pay Grant Fund (SPGF) Round 2

Round 2 closed on 14 June 2019 and awarded £39,175.

Smart Pay Grant Fund (SPGF) Round 3

Round 3 closed to new applications on 1 December 2022 and awarded £244,890.

The following Local Authorities, Regional Transport Partnerships and Transport Operators have been Grant funded under this Programme;

  • Aberdeenshire Council
  • Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council)
  • Highland Council
  • Moray Council
  • Scottish Borders Council
  • SEStran (South East of Scotland Regional Transport Partnership)
  • ARG Travel Ltd – North Lanarkshire
  • Avondale Coaches Ltd – West Dunbartonshire
  • B Mundell Ltd – Glasgow
  • Bay Travel Coaches Ltd - Fife
  • Blue Bus Ltd – North Lanarkshire
  • Borders Buses Ltd – Glasgow / Borders
  • Bryans Coaches Ltd – Falkirk
  • C&R Coaches Ltd T/A Wilson’s Buses
  • Canavan Travel Ltd – North Lanarkshire
  • Carrs Loch Lomond Ltd – West Dunbartonshire
  • Colchri Ltd - Renfrewshire
  • Craig of Campbeltown Ltd – Argyll & Bute
  • Dumfries and Galloway Buses
  • Dunns Coaches Ltd – North Lanarkshire
  • E & M Horsburgh Ltd – West Lothian
  • Edinburgh Coach Lines Ltd – Edinburgh
  • Elizabeth Yule Transport Ltd – Perth & Kinross
  • Eve Coaches Ltd – East Lothian
  • Garelochhead M&C Ltd – Argyll & Bute
  • Hebridean Transport Ltd – Western Isles
  • Houston's Mini Coaches – Dumfries & Galloway
  • Hunters Executive Coaches Ltd - Clackmannanshire.
  • J Docherty & Sons Ltd - Perth & Kinross
  • JMB Travel Ltd – North Lanarkshire
  • JP Minicoaches Ltd - Angus
  • Kevins Coaches Ltd – North Lanarkshire
  • Key Coaches - Renfrewshire
  • Lochs Motor Transport Ltd – Western Isles
  • Mackie’s Coaches Ltd – Alloa
  • McCalls Coaches Ltd – Dumfries & Galloway
  • McColl's Travel Ltd – West Dunbartonshire
  • McNairn's Coaches Ltd – North Lanarkshire
  • Millport Motors Ltd – Ayrshire
  • Moffat & Williamson Ltd – Fife
  • M & J Harcus – Orkney Islands
  • Prentice Coaches Ltd – East Lothian
  • PVT Transfer Ltd - Glasgow
  • RB Coaches – Falkirk
  • SD Travel Ltd – West Lothian
  • Shiel Buses Ltd – Highland
  • Shorts Travel Ltd - Angus
  • Shuttle Buses Ltd - Ayrshire
  • Stuart's Coaches Ltd – Glasgow & Lanarkshire
  • Sweeney's Garage – Perth & Kinross
  • Telford's Coaches Ltd – Scottish Boarders
  • Travelsure Ltd – Scottish Borders
  • United Coaches Ltd – North Lanarkshire
  • Whitelaws Coaches Ltd – South Lanarkshire
  • Wilson's of Rhu Ltd – Argyll & Bute
  • Wisharts (Friockheim) Ltd – Angus

A report on outcomes will be available following closure of the programme

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 made Grant fund offers of £232,300 and 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.