The introduction of contactless payments technology on Dublin buses and across the transport network should be prioritised for all passengers, according to a Fine Gael TD. Deputy Emer Higgins has called on the National Transport Authority (NTA) to prioritise the roll-out of next generation ticketing in Dublin and for the whole public transport network which would allow passengers to use a credit, debit card or smartphone to pay for fares.
Deputy Higgins said: “We live in an almost cashless society now which was in large part brought about by the pandemic. “On routes operated by Dublin Bus, passengers can only pay by coins if they don’t have a LEAP card and no change is given onboard. In an era where most people have smartphones, there should be an option to pay using contactless technology. “I previously called for the NTA to provide virtual Leap cards for use on all public transport as Ireland remains a total outlier in Europe by not being able to provide for digital payments for some transport modes.
“We are increasingly dependent on being able to pay for our goods and services on our phones and cards. In the past year there have been 1.1 billion of these transactions in Ireland. “There will always be times where people don’t have change when paying a fare on Dublin Bus and may have forgotten or lost their LEAP card. In other cases, people may not have a LEAP card because they don’t use public transport frequently so need the option to pay cash. “We should accommodate passengers in every scenario, and people who prefer to use cash must also be respected and facilitated.
“We also need to be able to offer the full range of payment options to passengers and that includes digital public transport cards. “The capital is continuing to grow with more people arriving to the city to live, work and socialise and it is therefore essential that we introduce contactless payment options across the entire public transport network. “Expressway, which serve city centres destinations in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Sligo and Waterford, as well as rural and local services, already has on-board terminals that can take Contactless Debit/Credit Card, Apple Pay, Google Pay and Leap Card payments. The TFI Go App is also another option for Bus Éireann users.
“The Chairperson Delegate of the National Transport Authority recently confirmed it will soon appoint a supplier in the first three months of this year to build the next generation ticketing platform, which will deliver account-based ticketing across services. This will facilitate the use of mobile phones, contactless bank cards and other digital forms of payment. “Peter Strachan told the Oireachtas Transport Committee earlier this month that 90% of passenger journeys in London are paid for with Smart card or contactless, according to their transport authority. “Mr Strachan claimed that Ireland is currently two to three years away from this level of digital payment given where the technology is now. However, he said the board of the NTA want to accelerate this as much as possible and I will be calling on them to keep the public informed as much as possible on when it can be expected. “Anything that makes life easier for commuters and visitors to our capital and encourages more people to use public transport to ease congestion on our roads would be a positive step,” Deputy Higgins concluded.