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Skip Navigation LinksMerseytravel > About Us > Media Centre > News > Merseyside travel goes ‘smart’ with first ’Walrus’ card ticket

 Merseyside travel goes ‘smart’ with first ’Walrus’ card ticket

Merseyside travel goes ‘smart’ with first ’Walrus’ card ticket

Published on 05/03/2015

The first electronic travel ticket on the Walrus smartcard will be available in Liverpool, Knowsley, Sefton, St Helens and Wirral from next week (Monday 9th March).

Smart versions of Saveaway– Merseytravel’s off-peak day ticket for buses, trains and ferries –are replacing the scratch off versions of the ticket which have been around for more than 30 years.

It follows an initial roll out in Wirral which has seen around 58,000 smart Saveaways sold since their launch at the end of November 2014, already making Merseyside’s smart ticketing scheme one of the most active outside of London.

The tickets, which will initially be for on-the-day use only, will be available from around 800 PayPoint outlets across Merseyside–more than doubling the number of places people can buy Saveaways.

The Walrus card is designed to be kept, re-used and, longer term, to host other ticketing products. In Wirral, already more than half of smart Saveaway sales (around 60 per cent per cent) are on re-used cards.

For the next few months people will be able to get a Walrus smartcard for free when purchasing a smart Saveaway. There will be a £1 activation charge for all new cards longer term.

Feedback from the Wirral launch has shown that people are keen to buy Saveaways in advance. As a first step towards that, people will be able to buy smart Saveaways for either same day or next day travel from this summer.

Meanwhile there are plans for another of Merseytravel’s existing pre-paid ticket products to go ‘smart’ later this year too.

Saveaway is just the start of Merseytravel’s smart ticketing programme, with the next few years seeing a roll out of new ticket products and new ways to purchase them.

Merseytravel and operators are continuing to work on a strategy outlining what Merseyside’s smart ticketing future will look like. A high level approach is expected within the next few months with detailed recommendations expected to be made later this year.

The focus will be on making the process more convenient and efficient for public transport users, with simplifying the zoning system and price structures amongst the considerations.

Said Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel:

“Everybody across Merseyside now has the opportunity to get a Walrus smartcard in their purse or wallet.

“Getting electronic versions of our Saveaway tickets out on the network may seem a small step to the travelling public of Merseyside, but it is a significant one.

“Just taking Wirral sales figures alone, we already have one of the largest smart ticketing schemes outside of London and that’s just in the space of a few months.

“It has involved much work with transport operators in getting both the commercial systems and technical infrastructure right – complexities that all areas outside London face in implementing smart ticketing schemes

“Within the next few months people will be able to buy Saveaways for same day and next day travel, with another of Merseytravel’s ticket products available in a smart format too.

We’ve started small but we’re thinking big. We will soon be providing further detail on our ambitions for ‘Walrus’ longer term.

There are additional benefits to smart ticketing. The data gathered will help Merseytravel and the operators better understand passengers’ travelling patterns so transport services can best meet their needs. It is also expected that smart tickets and the associated ‘touch on’ will reduce fraud and associated costs.

As not all current Saveaway retailers will have the facility to retail smart Saveaways, there will be a phasing out of scratch off Saveaway tickets at these outlets.

Paper Saveaways will still be available from railway stations and ticket vending machines. For more information on smart Saveaway and your nearest PayPoint outlet visit merseytravel.gov.uk/smartsaveaway

 

Why has Merseytravel chosen Saveaway (its most widely used product) to go ‘smart’ first?

We have to start somewhere. There was much discussion, but in light of the wider ticketing review that may lead to fundamental changes in the more complex pre-paid products such as Trio, of which there can be numerous configurations depending on the zones (which themselves are also under review) we decided that Saveaway was the most simple first product for the card. It also doesn’t require any complex back office processing or renewal systems, being simply bought and used on the day.

We appreciate that there is likely to be some resistance from some people to the new smart Saveaways, as the paper tickets have been around for more than 30 years, but that always comes with any change. We’re thinking of the bigger picture and want to start taking our customers on a journey- a journey we have to take in order to have a 21st century transport network with services to match

Why can’t customers buy more than one Saveaway at once?

We do recognise that people are keen to be able to buy Saveaways in advance and that is one of our priorities for the forthcoming year – a key piece of feedback from the Wirral launch.  As a first step towards that people will be able to buy smart Saveaways for either same day or next day travel from June.

For people to be able to load a number of Saveaways on to their card for travel at some point in the future, we have to ensure there are suitable ticket validation systems at key points across the transport network to electronically ‘clip’ tickets. Without those in place there is a risk of fraud. 

We appreciate that the current set up be as convenient for everyone, but we encourage customers to see this as the beginning of what will ultimately be a much better offer. Research indicates that the vast majority of Saveaway sales (around 80 per cent) are for on the day use any way.

You said that there was going to be a charge from April for the cards, why isn’t there now?

We wanted smart Saveaway users across Merseyside to all have sufficient opportunity to pick up a free Walrus card which they can keep and re-use.

We couldn’t predict how many people would keep and re-use their cards prior to  he Wirral roll out. However, as the number has been encouraging to date, with more than half (around 60 per cent of Saveaways bought on re-used cards), we have more surplus stock available than we anticipated at this stage in the roll out. We want to pass that benefit on to customers and so have chosen to delay the introduction of a card charge.

It is a cost to Merseytravel to purchase and activate the cards, so this charge mostly covers those costs. Merseytravel will not be making any money on the eventual £1 charge.

You’re talking about smart Saveaways, what’s Walrus?

Walrus is the name of Merseyside's Smartcard for public transport and cards with that name will be what customers load their smart Saveaways on to. Our focus at this time is to advise customers that the way they access Saveaways is changing, rather than push the Walrus brand. However, over time customers will start to see more and more of it around Merseyside as more tickets and products move onto Smartcard.

How do sales of smart Saveaway in Wirral compare with the scratch off versions?

Early analysis indicates that Wirral sales have not been negatively impacted as a result of the change. It is too early to establish any further trends because we are not selling smart Saveaways across the network yet, with Scratch off Saveaways also still in circulation.

 Our historic data is also based on wholesale sales (ticket sales to retailers) rather than retail sales (ticket sales to customers), so analysing short periods of data may be less accurate than reviewing longer periods. Further conclusions will be drawn as we collect and analyse more data.

It’s also important to recognise that the market has changed and people who may have used Saveaways may now be using other products such as the Merseytravel-led MyTicket which may offer better value for young people 15 and under.

So what’s after smart Saveaway?

Within the coming year Merseytravel is working on customers being able to purchase smart Saveaways in advance.   As a first step towards that, people will be able to buy smart Saveaways for either same day or next day travel from June. There are plans for another of Merseytravel’s existing pre-paid ticket products to go ‘smart’ too.

More broadly, a strategy outlining what Merseyside’s smart ticketing future will look like is being developed. This will inform where we go next. It follows a ticketing review looking at such things as the pricing structure and zoning system. We want to be sure that any new products reflect modern travel patterns and needs.

Where’s the ticketing review up to?

Merseytravel and operators are continuing to work on a strategy outlining what Merseyside’s smart ticketing future will look like. A high level approach is expected within the next few months with detailed recommendations expected to be made later this year.

Will operator tickets be able to be put on the cards too?

We’re certainly looking at that as part of taking forward our smart ticketing offer. It fits with our vision of a moving towards a truly integrated transport system.

Why can’t we have an Oyster card?

Over the next few years we will be looking to roll out more Oyster-style products. However,  because the transport network is regulated and centrally managed in London, the development of Smart ticketing (i.e. Oyster card) does not face the same challenges as other cities. Outside of London, the public transport market is deregulated and as such, the process is more complicated. For instance, there are numerous independent bus operators, many of whom are already using their own technology.

Even with just Wirral smart Saveaway sales alone, Merseyside’s smart ticketing scheme is one of the most active outside of London.