National Smart Ticketing Advisory Board - Meeting Minutes - 28 November 2023



  • Andrew Seedhouse: AS

Board Members

  • Alex Hornby: Bus Operator Representative AH
  • Claire Dickie: Rail Operator Representative CD
  • Diane Burke: Ferry Operator Representative DB
  • Neil Wylie: Subway Operator Representative NW
  • Marilena Papadopoulou: Tram Operator Representative MP
  • Kirsten Urquhart: Passenger Representative KU
  • Hussein Patwa: Accessibility Representative HP
  • Margaret Roy: Local Transport Authority Representative (ATCO) MR
  • Ranald Robertson: Regional Transport Partnership Representative (RTP) RR
  • Mary Docherty: Transport Scotland Representative MD
  • Matt Smallwood: Smart Delivery Advisor MS
  • Mostafa Gulam: Technical Systems Advisor MG
  • James Gleave: Transport Strategy Advisor JG

Other attendees

  • Bettina Sizeland: Director of Bus, Accessibility and Active Travel (Transport BS Scotland) (SRO)
  • George Beale-Pratt: Smart Policy Manager (Transport Scotland) (Sponsor) GBP
  • Kevin Ho: Programme Support Officer (Transport Scotland) (Secretariat) KH
  • Juliet Bell: Smart Programme Manager (Transport Scotland) JB
  • Mark Speed: Partnership Director Tactran MS


  • Fiona Hyslop: Minister for Transport

Agenda Item 1: Introduction

AS welcomed the members to the inaugural NSTAB meeting.

Agenda Item 2: Round Table Introduction

Each member and attendee introduced themselves to the group and provided a brief background on the area they represent and why NSTAB is of significance to them.

Agenda Item 3: Introduction by Bettina Sizeland

BS welcomed the Board Members on behalf of the Minister for Transport who was unable to attend, and explained the importance of the NSTAB, her expectation of how NSTAB will operate and how it will contribute to transport in Scotland. BS also set the challenge for NSTAB to advise on the strategic development of smart ticketing in Scotland, including on a national technological standard for smart ticketing.

Agenda Item 4: NSTAB background (legislation, policy and framework)

GBP talked through a presentation providing an overview of the purpose of NSTAB, the Framework Document, and consulted with the Board on adding NSTAB to the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010. The Board was briefed on the intention to add NSTAB to the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, and the Ethical Standards in Public Life etc. (Scotland) Act 2000.

The Board confirmed they were content for NSTAB to be added to the Public Services Reform (Scotland) Act 2010.


  • MD questioned if slide 11 “S45: Ministerial direction for local authorities to establish or alter a ticketing scheme” should be ticketing arrangements or ticketing scheme? GBP advised that it is ticketing scheme and explained the difference between a scheme and a ticketing arrangement. Ticketing Arrangements are covered by the Transport (Scotland) Act 2001 and are local authority led voluntary agreements with operators to introduce a ticketing product. Ticketing Schemes are essentially ticketing arrangements where the operators are required to take part to introduce a ticketing product. Rail and ferry can be part of the ticketing scheme but only bus operators are required to take part in a scheme.
  • RR asked if the Act covers how local authorities engage with other local authorities. GBP highlighted the S44 of the 2019 Act states that local transport authorities must co-operate with one another when developing ticketing schemes.
  • NW advised that for SPT, the duties from the Public Service Reform (Scotland) Act 2010 do not require significant work.
  • RR questioned about the Work Programme submission date being 28th May 2024 and how other Transport Scotland activity will feed in. GBP advised that any work from Transport Scotland will be fed in via the Transport Scotland Representative (Mary Docherty) to NSTAB.
  • MG suggested it is worth considering other smart ticketing developments in other countries. i.e., developments in England and how that can be considered in the Scottish context.
  • JG asked what the structure was for seeking advice politically and from the Minister. GBP advised it will be a two-way communication process but any communication with the Minister should seek to provide clear, well-thought-out options that could invite a steer from the Minister.
  • AS added that there may be parts of the legislation that may not be working and NSTAB may seek to advise on how the legislation could change.

Agenda Item 5: Round table on representative’s priorities for the Board

Each Board member provided their view on the priorities for how the Board should approach advising on a technological standard for smart ticketing, and on the future of smart ticketing in Scotland:

Neil Wylie – Subway Representative

  • NW highlighted the importance of customer engagement, and that new smart ticketing needs to be simpler and clearer for the customer.
  • NW commented that technology is expensive and NSTAB must consider costs and proportional intervention that supports business operations and passengers.

Alex Hornby – Bus Operator Representative

  • AH highlighted that it is key to work together to develop smart ticketing that is seen as value to the customer. Where a solution is seen as good value and attractive, there is no need to incentivise its adoption.
  • AH commented that contactless payments on buses sometimes can take longer time to process than cash payments due to the loading time. A variety of different solutions need to be considered such as impact on boarding time. For example, enabling transactions to be redeemed offline as connection may not always be available.
  • AH highlighted that the Glasgow Tripper ticket, which was previously only available on a smartcard, is now also provided on operator’s own mobile apps which has resulted in a significant increase of usage. AH stressed the importance of providing choices to customers by providing information in a single place. AS and AH discussed the customer awareness of the different types of ticket (including Tripper) they could purchase.
  • AH suggested that an ideal solution could be integrated Tap On Tap Off smart ticketing with other operators. RR advised there are technological compatibility issues, and this solution is not currently transferable to other area outside of Greater Glasgow.

Claire Dickie – Rail Operator Representative

  • CD emphasised that the priority is for making smart ticketing easier for customers and passengers. Some previous smart ticketing solutions were slower than purchasing a paper ticket. Implementing smart ticketing should also increase insight on travel data, allowing operators to understand passenger travel patterns which could help reduce cost and bring savings to the customers.
  • CD expressed that information availability was key for passengers on connecting travel. Integrated travel information, including when connections were arriving, would benefit the customers when making integrated journeys. ScotRail are also implementing a digital Account Based Ticketing trial.
  • CD discussed Equality Impact Assessments and how the industry ensures that everyone is catered for, whilst also continuing to progress innovation.
  • The Board also discussed how it is more likely that those who require public transport are also more likely to only have cash, or not have a bank account, and that these people must not be excluded.
  • AS asked to what extent technology on rail is not controlled by Scotland. CD advised that ScotRail are part of the Rail Delivery Group which covers rail operators in Scotland, England, and Wales, and so ScotRail must meet their standards. In addition, ScotRail also have some cross-border services into England.

Marilena Papadopoulou – Trams Operator Representative

  • MP expressed that the focus is on allowing passengers and new users to travel easily and create a solution for returning customers. MP also commented that there has been a large reduction of the use of cash after the pandemic.
  • MP suggested that Account Based Ticketing may become old technology soon and there is a requirement that the Board work collaboratively to obtain insight of how evolving technology could be used for smart ticketing.
  • The Board discussed the growth of digital and that customers now seek to use their mobile phones more for their travel and payments.

Diane Burke – Ferry Operator Representative

  • DB highlighted that the Board needs to have a clear vision/goal. It has to be customer led and needs to consider different types of users (for example, impact on islanders), and that ferry shouldn’t be a ‘peripheral mode’. There also need to be a consideration of digital connectivity, and maps showing integrated journey options to enhance end to end customer experience. DB emphasised the importance of progress over perfection.
  • MD advised that digital connectivity powers are reserved to the UK government.
  • AS advised that the Board also needs to consider domestic flights and airlines and MD questioned if there was an aviation representative at the table.
  • RR agreed with DB about understanding customer journeys, including for operators to share information and provide alternative options should there be a disruption to their service. AH advised there are already general agreements in place between rail and bus should there be a disruption.

Matt Smallwood – Smart Delivery Advisor

  • MS highlighted that there are other considerations beyond the ticketing element including the need to enable strategic stakeholder buy in.
  • MS suggested the Board needs to identify an environment that creates technological constancy, but also protects revenue and avoids big procurement and duplication.
  • There should be a consideration of the training and engagement of operator’s staff, the simplicity of ticketing governance, and changes to the underpinning fare structure. The Board also needs to consider both pre-purchase and post-purchase ticketing.

Mostafa Gulam – Technical Systems Advisor

  • MG highlighted that the Board needs to consider ease for suppliers, as there are challenges in system implementation, particularly when there are multiple layers of systems. Suppliers may not bid to be part of ticketing development work if it is not compatible with the solution they build.
  • There needs to be a standardisation/framework of ticketing systems and technology to make it easier.
  • Account Based Ticketing is popular but not always open to everyone. New ticketing systems will develop in the future, particularly in the back office which will enhance to accept new and more diverse technology. 
  • MG commented that Oyster is expensive and out of date but still exists is primarily to provide those without bank accounts or eligible for discounts (e.g children).
  • MG advised that 40% of all rail journeys are discounted and all media should support that.
  • NW commented that a significant number of Subway customers tend to still pay with cash and SPT are not leaving anyone behind by identifying options for cash users to still benefit from smart ticketing.
  • AS commented that cash options for integrating with a new smart ticketing solution should also be explored.

Mary Docherty – Transport Scotland Representative

  • MD expressed that the Board needs to consider the lessons learned from members’ previous smart ticketing introductions. Smart ticketing should be consistent and accessible to customers. It needs to be interoperable across modes and across geographies.
  • The National Concessionary Travel Scheme, which is provided on the ITSO smart ticketing platform, has been available since 2006 and still works. Transport Scotland will need to consider the impact to the National Concessionary Travel Scheme of any change to technological standard for smart ticketing. The outcomes from the Fair Fares Review will also feed into NSTAB. AS added that ITSO is very well suited for National Concessionary Travel Scheme, as data is captured and secure.
  • MD highlighted that Transport Scotland is currently undertaking a feasibility study on potential future smart platforms for the National Concessionary Travel Scheme. Transport Scotland is also delivering the new Digital Travel Data Service, which seeks to incorporate improved ticketing information into the Traveline Scotland platform.
  • The Board then discussed the consideration for the use of cash as a form of payment alongside smart ticketing/payment. MP commented that the definition within smart does not include cash and NW commented that Subway cash as a percentage increased during the pandemic reflecting that those that had to travel during the pandemic (e.g., key workers) were more likely to use cash. AH stated that during the pandemic there were concerns around cash handling specifically on virus transmission which forced behavioural changes. RR commented that there should still be a way to reward cash users with loyalty cards, so cash users are not adversely affected by the rise in smart ticketing. CD commented that a loyalty-based scheme could link to Mobility as a Service.

Mark Speed

  • MS highlighted that a central repository for information would benefit the Board. MS commented that there are two options that could be considered:
    1. Develop a sub-par solution bringing together existing technology.
    2. Develop a solution from a blank sheet of paper and build a solution from ground up. With cycle of investment and tech replacement there are good opportunities to encourage the adoption of a new smart ticketing model.
  • It was agreed that it should be a mix of both, possibility starting from scratch and incorporate existing technology.
  • MG agreed that technology does move on but emphasised that technology on barcodes developed by Rail Delivery Group in 2010 is still around, and so technology does not move as quickly as MS suggested.
  • CD advised that the replacement of rail ticket gates would be costly and there are long contracts in the rail industry.

James Gleave - Transport Strategy Advisor

  • JG raised the importance of linking the work of NSTAB to the wider transport strategy and understand why the Board is ultimately doing this work.
  • The NTS2 outcomes are more focused on resulting changes to Scotland, as opposed to specific transport outcomes. Increasing public transport usage is a means to an end. A technological standard will lead to more passengers and make investment for future work be more compelling, particularly in areas where public transport is not commercially viable.
  • The Board should identify key challenge statements, with the emphasis on ‘more of a little’ than a ‘little of a lot’. The Board should also look a key barriers to why some ideas have not been delivered.

Margaret Roy – Local Transport Authority Representative

  • MR highlighted that a smart ticketing system should be customer led and the Board should not forget about cost challenges for small operators to implement the system. If it is too expensive, smaller operators will not provide local bus services, but provide coach and school services instead without the complexity of ticketing systems. If smart ticketing is made too difficult for small operators, it may exclude them from being part of ticketing schemes.
  • MR commented that data on where passengers are travelling benefits the Local Transport Authority in the management of subsidised services.

Ranald Robertson – Regional Transport Partnership Representative

  • RR commented that there needs to be a clear vision on what the future transport strategy is, and the Board needs to recognise the gaps in transport.

Operators having a responsibility to share ticketing and travel data APIs would be helpful for rural networks.

  • RR also raised the potential for E-bike integration. For example, E-Bikes could be incorporated and be part of the U22’s concessionary scheme.

Kirsten Urquhart – Passenger Representative

  • KU highlighted that a smart ticketing system should be customer first with a whole system approach. KU expressed that customer first means thinking about the person we are doing this for. What is the hearts and minds rationale, and is behaviour change needed? The Board needs to make it clear that it understands the societal challenges and wants to help to reduce cost to taxpayers.

Hussein Patwa – Accessibility Representative

  • HP commented that there is large piece of work around educating people about smart ticketing technology, including how to access and use it. HP raised that often there is the assumption that people will automatically learn how to use new technology, and that isn’t always the case.
  • HP highlighted that ‘smart’ needs to be redefined. People often think that means automated and there will be no help when it goes wrong, so the Board needs to reassure users that smart does not mean that. The Board needs to avoid the pitfall of ‘access’ to technology with ‘use’ of technology.
  • Multi-modal consistency is great for accessibility. The Board also needs to make initial use of the Scottish transport system easy for non-Scottish users.

Agenda Item 6: Priorities in relation to developing work programme

  • AS summarised the key points of the previous agenda item, highlighting that ticketing is one part of a wider future transport solution going forward. In considering the future development of smart ticketing in Scotland, the Board should consider:
    • The majority of Board representatives highlight the importance of a customer first approach,
    • Focus on simplistic outcomes,
    • Reduce barriers (financial, accessibility),
    • Affordability, both in delivery and use,
    • Governance should be simple,
    • Drive growth via modal shift, supporting the first and last mile,
    • Mobile is dominant and is liked by users, but does not offer same level of security as other smart ticketing solutions,
    • Cannot leave anyone behind – for example cash users, or through usability of technology,
  • Need a clear approach and vision,
  • Consider the customer - regular user, leisure, tourism etc.,
  • Align with appropriate business rules for apportionment.
  • AS also raised potential challenges that could affect development of a new smart ticketing system, including suspicion between parties, 3G connectivity, existing standards, and the speed of change.

Agenda Item 7: Next Steps

  • AS requested to map out where Scotland already is with smart ticketing contracts, programmes and priorities, with members feeding in for their respective areas and showing expiry dates if members are comfortable.
  • MS advised that the Board needs to set up parameters in what the Board is responsible for, and what it will set out to do in order to avoid scope creep.
  • JG suggested that there should be a repository where members could share and collaborate before the next Board. MG suggested the preference would be on SharePoint or Teams for repository.
  • AS suggested that the next meeting will be in late January 2024 and will send out suggested dates for the upcoming NSTAB meetings with the minutes. It was agreed by the Board that a Tuesday would be the preference.

Next Steps

  • AS suggested that the next couple of meetings should be held in person.


  • AS will set up meetings with members he has not met before to learn more about their approach and background.
  • AS to work with Secretariat to develop a repository of information.
  • AS to coordinate mapping of existing picture of smart ticketing in Scotland (including contracts, programmes, and priorities)

Published Date 8 Feb 2024 Type Topic