Seamless ticketing and real-time information promised for Lancashire bus and rail passengers
Bus and train passengers in Lancashire should one day be able to buy a single ticket for their combined journey - and pay the best price for it.
The pledge is part of a new integrated transport system being developed across the North of England.
Lancashire County Council’s external scrutiny committee heard that the region’s transport bosses want to create a contactless travel system which simplifies journeys across different modes of transport and different operators.
But members were told that the plans would not necessarily mean a London-style Oyster card for the north - because there are now many more ways for passengers to pay.
“We’re looking beyond the Oyster system - the number of people using it has dropped a lot,” Robin Miller-Stott, senior strategy officer at Transport for the North (TfN), said.
“We recognise people can now use their bank cards, phones and watches [on] the transport network.”
The new system - which will include a pay-as-you-go option - will be rolled out across the North from 2020 onwards. No date has been set for when it will arrive in Lancashire.
Plans are also in the pipeline to introduce real-time travel information for bus users across the county, similar to the systems which have long been enjoyed by train passengers.
Almost £150m of government cash has been secured, some of which will be used to create a system which all 400 bus operators across the North will be able to access, whatever the scale of their operation.
“It’s important to recognise how important bus journeys are across the North and how the infrastructure we put in place will help users,” Robin Miller-Stott said.
“The majority of bus companies have [the necessary] kit inside the buses, but they don’t have the big overarching infrastructure to plug into.
“We’re giving them that portal - and that will really transform how you can travel around the North.”
Real-time travel information first came to bus stops in Preston a decade ago, but the system was switched off in 2011. The committee heard that funding generated by planning agreements with housebuilders ran out.
“It was a service which was very well-received by the public,” committee member and Preston Central West county councillor Carl Crompton said.
But after the meeting, the local democracy reporting service was told that the North of England plan would not necessarily result in the reintroduction of the exact same system in the city.