Ireland needs to catch up with the rest of the world and introduce contactless payments on buses, according to Newstalk Tech Correspondent Jess Kelly.
National Transport Authority (NTA) chief executive Anne Graham recently said contactless payments across the public transport system with fares paid using credit, debit cards, or phones, is “years away”.
A spokesperson for Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan previously confirmed contactless payments would be trialled on buses by the end of the month, “all going well”.
Mr Ryan also said in December that IT infrastructure on public transport is creaking under the pressure of delays.
Jess told The Pat Kenny Show the statement from the NTA is “baffling”.
She said Ireland is lagging behind countries that introduced contactless payments years ago.
“If you look at our nearest neighbors over in the UK, they have had contactless payments for years,” she said. “They have a system that works.”
Some public transport systems in the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy have also gone largely cashless.
Using contactless payments
Jess said it’s strange that buses remain one of the few places you can’t use contactless payment.
“If you go to the country market and if you buy you know your fruit and veg, you can pay a local merchant using a SumUp machine or a portable console,” she said.
“When you look at the era of contactless payments digital payments, people can pay with their Fitbits and with their watches.”
“The fact that you can't pay by tapping your card to get onto a bus – it's put me off getting the bus before.”
Jess said certain buses have good enough connectivity, depending on the region – but the problem could be similar to problems in the National Broadband Plan.
“They have to have a procurement of a system first, then the contractor is appointed, then the rollout begins,” she explained.
Jess also explained that a lot of buses in Ireland simply “don’t have the infrastructure” to introduce contactless payments.
“If and when this finally does happen we need to ensure that the system that future-proofed,” she said.
If it is too difficult to introduce contactless bus payments soon, Jess argued we need to look at other options.
“What if they just put a QR code onto the bus and as you get on you scan it auto-completes the payment details if you use Apple Pay or Android Pay.”
She said developments must be considered as soon as possible, as “waiting years for this to come down the tracks is actually going to damage our public transport infrastructure in the long run”.