Integrated ticketing mooted 17 years ago

Integrated ticketing mooted 17 years ago
The Ballyfermot Post
December 14, 2007
By Cian Ginty

Tickets that can be used across Dublin Bus, Luas and Dart could be introduced overnight, but the integrated ticketing project is hampered by infighting between state bodies. It is also heavily focused on using ‘smartcards’ – electronic cards which store credit and travel information.

Integrated ticketing was first suggested in May 1994, but the Department of Transport has told this newspaper that the time frame is now late August 2009 for just Dublin Bus, Luas, and one private bus operator. While rail services are set to be included only 12 months later in 2010.

Commuter group, Rail Users Ireland, says that the problem with the ticketing system is just one symptom of a larger problems due to the lack of a long promised Dublin transport authority.

“The integrated ticketing problem is systematic of a bigger problem where you’ve got three different transport providers under the state umbrella and their ability to work together in all areas including ticketing is so-far counterproductive to the needs of commuters,” says Derek Wheeler, spokesman for the users’ group.

“If Dublin had a dedicated transport authority none of this would happen, because it would be taken out of the hands of the RPA, it would be taken out of the hands of Dublin Bus, and it’d be taken out of the hands of Irish Rail”

Operators

The Department of Transport claim that the problems are “business and commercial in nature,” – this ignores the fact that the government controls the vast majority of the transport network.

“In dealing with a multi-operator ticketing environment, the issues that come to the fore are business and commercial in nature, as well as the interests of the various operators – as opposed to just merely technical issues. They include how revenue will be apportioned between the various players in the integrated ticketing system. Then there is the whole issue of the security of the revenue from the operator’s viewpoint.”

“This has also been the experience with integrated ticketing deployments elsewhere in the world,” the department claims.   But the State transport companies Dublin Bus, Irish Rail, and Bus Eireann are wholly owned by the Department of Transport. Even with the Luas – which is operated by a private company – ticket pricing is set by the RPA.

Rail Users Ireland have suggested to use the magnetic card tickets currently used with Dublin’s bus, rail, and tram services. This could allow for the induction of integrated ticketing overnight. But the department also rejects this suggestion, saying such tickets would not offer “flexibility or scope for integration”.

Low tech

However, paper based intergraded ticketing has been working for years in cities as diverse as London and Los Angeles. The problem for the department and the transport operators is likely to be that paper-based integrated ticketing allows for unlimited travel over all the transport network for a set daily, weekly, monthly or yearly fee – allowing for the most flexibility, and ease of integration for users.

The original time scale for the intergraded ticketing project was 2002 for Dublin Bus, and the next year for the main Dublin transport services. Commuters now have to wait until at least 2010 – nearly 17 years after it was first mooted.

The department, however, are not phased by the delays of the project, a spokesperson told us: “The Integrated Ticketing Project Board has recently advised the Department that the integrated ticketing project is on schedule and within budget”.

Rail Users Ireland are clear that the solution to integrated ticketing is progress with the proposed Dublin transport authority, first outlined in the early 1980s.

“Until there is a transportation authority in Dublin nothing is going to be solved, integrated ticketing, integration of different transport modes,” says Wheeler.

“None of it’s going to happen and that’s ultimately up to the Minister for Transport to sit down and say ‘right I’m going to make this happen’ and the longer it goes on the longer you’re going to see problems such as integrated ticketing”.

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