A new contactless card payment system could be in place on Dublin Bus by late next year.
The National Transport Authority (NTA) has launched a tendering process for the new system which would allow customers to pay using bankcards and smart devices.
Dublin Bus CEO Ray Coyne yesterday told the Oireachtas Transport Committee that the tendering process was now underway and the new system could be in place by the latter stages of 2023.
He said the system would ‘dynamically update’ – offering people cheaper fares the more often they use the bus.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the chair of the Dublin branch of the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU) Sean Yates welcomed the announcement.
“At the moment, we have a cash system for coins only and you can use the current Leap Card system that operates between the various operators,” he said.
“This is a good news story both for the customers and tourists and especially for the drivers although it is a bit late to the game if you like – we have had Singapore, the UK and Brazil all way ahead of us with this technology.
“The positives are that it improves driver safety, it reduces dwell time by speeding up boarding and delays to the service.
“Of course, for tourists it means that tourists can come in and there is seamless transport.
“There are also reduced costs involved in cash handling which lowers cash-related crime - we do have a lot of cash crime on Bus Éireann services - and the customers are also more like to use public transport.
“So, it is a good news story but it’s a bit late coming to the table.”
He said trade unions have not been consulted ahead of the tendering process – but noted that the system on London’s public transport could be reproduced here.
“In the UK, you can use your phone - you can use any card you want - and you just tap and go and it reduces the fare based on where you have travelled within the system,” he said.
“It is a fantastic system. It will also dynamically update so the more you use, the less you pay.
“I know in the UK you can enter or exit the bus by any door. So, once the doors open you can get on and tap and sit down. In the tube for instance, you just go up and you can use your phone in the same way you do in the shops and it opens the barrier. It calculates the cost, and it is actually more economical for you to use.”
He said there are “always going to be teething problems” with the introduction of a new technology – and called on the NTA and Dublin Bus to consult with the unions before making any final decision.
“That way we can have a look at what is best suited for everybody concerned and have a good experience for the customers and the staff,” he said.