The National Transport Authority (NTA) needs to stop dragging its heels and provide virtual Leap cards on smartphones for use on all public transport, a local TD has said. Deputy Emer Higgins has said that Ireland is a total outlier in Europe by not being able to provide digital payments for some public transport, and virtual Leap card facilities – either through a digital wallet or the Leap card app – are needed.
“A recent report by Greenpeace ranked Dublin as the worst city for public transport for simplicity of ticketing system, across 30 European capital cities. It’s only when we travel to other cities ourselves that we realise how behind we are in facilitating all types of payments for passengers. “Increasingly, we rely on the ability to be able to pay for our goods and services via our phones and cards. In the past year alone there have been 1.1 billion of these transactions in Ireland”, continued Deputy Higgins.
“We’ve all had times where we’ve forgotten or lost our Leap cards at home and by having the card digitally it takes the stress out of having to find another means of paying. This would be especially beneficial for teenagers that are regularly using public transport who may have misplaced their cards. “I am mindful of the fact that not everyone wants to pay this way and that some people still prefer to use cash – their choices must also be respected and facilitated – but we do need to be able to offer the full range of payment options to passengers and that includes digital public transport cards.
“The NTA has recently said that the introduction of a contactless system could be years away. Offering the use of a Leap card on a digital wallet or app would help get us more in line with the rest of Europe’s simpler ticketing systems. “The NTA have previously said that a digital card would be introduced by 2023 or 2024 yet no clear timeline has been shown since. The delay in introducing this virtual system is just not good enough. We can’t have a repeat of the introduction of the physical Leap card, which also took years.
“We want more people to use public transport – the benefits are many, not least less congestion on our roads, which is what the Minister for Transport is striving for. Why, therefore, the lack of urgency from his Department and the NTA to make public transport more user-friendly, both for us and our tourists?”