POPPING out on public transport is about to get easier with the launch of a new smartcard system – the biggest of its kind outside London.
Tyne and Wear transport executive Nexus has unveiled its new Pop card – similar to the capital’s Oyster card – which is being rolled out across the region this year.
Passengers will eventually be able to add credit to their rainbow-coloured cards, which can then be used to pay for travel on public transport.
At first the cards will be used to carry traditional season tickets.
Bernard Garner, director general of Nexus, said: “Today marks the start of a phased programme to introduce people to the benefits of this new smartcard technology steadily.
“Smartcards will soon be used by hundreds of thousands of public transport users, and we are one of the first regions in the UK to fully embrace the future of travel.”
Pupils from South Hylton Primary school were among the first to get a glimpse of the new smartcards when they helped unveil the scheme at South Hylton Metro station.
The Pop card team is visiting stations on the Metro system this week to promote the new scheme.
Nexus is spending £15million of Government cash on smart ticketing, which includes replacing the 225 Metro pay stations, and introducing gates and “smart” validators across the system.
Passengers will start getting their regular Metro season tickets and under-16 travel passes replaced with Pop cards from next month.
Nexus aims to allow all passengers to use the Pop card with a “full pay-as-you-ride” option on Metro in 2012.
The transport agency is also reminding all Wearsiders under 16 to apply for their new smartcard travel pass before February 28 if they want to get it for free.
From April 1 all new applications and replacements will be subject to a £5 charge
For more information, visit www.popcard.org.uk, tel. 202 0747 or call in at a Nexus Travel Shop.