Intervention description

A.86 This intervention involves the development of a national, integrated ticketing system for all modes of public transport and would support the objectives to promote seamless travel, improve the competitiveness of public transport and improve overall perception of public transport.

A.87 It is likely that the system would be delivered through Smartcard technology, similar to schemes operating in London and other European cities, but probably using the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation standard (ITSO). The card would allow interoperability across different public transport services over all of Scotland, and would provide a robust, secure system for revenue allocation to operators.

A.88 Such a system would require investment in fixed validation equipment at terminals and on buses/trams, sales facilities and Smartcards, and back office systems to undertake revenue allocation and provide management information. Further detailed consideration will be required to determine the type of product used.

Contribution towards the Scottish Government’s Purpose

A.89 Integrated ticketing is not an end in itself but a means of achieving the wider policy objectives of the Scottish Government.

A.90 This intervention would provide greater integration and use of public transport as a real alternative to the car, in line with Scottish Government Key Strategic Outcomes. This intervention also offers the potential to reduce boarding times on bus services, since there would be a reduced requirement for drivers to sell tickets. Evidence from the London scheme currently suggests that upwards of 80 per cent of bus journeys in London are now made using a Smartcard; this may be largely due to significant cost savings to the users of the card.

A.91 From an environmental stand point this intervention is expected to have a small positive impact. However, taken together with other proposed interventions there is the potential to reduce the overall level of emissions by encouraging car drivers to use public transport.

A.92 This intervention could be taken forward in conjunction with those addressing service enhancements and the provision of Strategic Park-&- Ride / Park-&-Choose facilities.

STPR Objectives

Links to Other Strategies

A.93 Integrated ticketing36 has been highlighted in a number of recent strategy documents:

  • The Scottish Government Manifesto expresses commitment to bringing together Scotland’s transport stakeholders to take forward measures to ensure greater integration of the public transport network and to putting forward for consideration development of an integrated paycard;
  • The National Transport Strategy sets out the importance of integrated ticketing;
  • The consultation document ‘Integrated Ticketing; A Strategy for Scotland’ was published in May 2008; and
  • The Regional Transport Strategy (RTS) documents also take forward some of these ideas for integrated ticketing in the context of specific requirements for each of the regions – particularly in the context of promoting bus travel.

Current Status of Project

A.94 The Scottish Government is currently consulting on their Integrated Ticketing Strategy for Scotland. The emerging strategy will bring together some of the key aims for public transport integration so that these can be taken forward into an implementation strategy jointly with transport operators, local authorities and Regional Transport Partnerships.

A.95 As part of the Concessionary Travel Scheme, Smartcard-enabled ticket machines are being fitted to all buses across Scotland. These machines are all capable of issuing and accepting both lightweight and long-lasting Smartcard tickets — and present exciting new opportunities to utilise Smartcards for ticketing products for fare-paying passengers. This infrastructure is intended to be in place on buses across Scotland by the end of 2009.

Indicative Costs

A.96 It is likely that an initial implementation of Smartcard ticketing technologies would cost in the range of £50m - £100m, based on the emerging experience of franchised rail operators who are currently undertaking their own implementations.


A.97 Implementation of the intervention will require the co-operation of all transport operators who participate in the intervention, both from a commercial perspective, and in adjusting their own internal business processes to handle the new system. As the franchising authority for Scotland’s rail services, Transport Scotland would be in a position to specify the technology as a franchise output. In the case of unregulated private bus service providers, there will be a need to secure their input and co-operation for participation in the intervention.