Cambridge apes London’s Oyster

Alex Glasner 21 November 2008

Cambridge is to introduce a pre-paid card system for use on some of its bus lines.

The new scheme, which will see the use of a ‘smartcard’, will work on buses on a similar basis to London’s Oyster card where passengers no longer have to bring cash with them every journey.

The system, which will enable passengers to ‘touch in’, is due to be installed in Cambridge on the 22-23rd November.

Cambridge is the first area outside of London in which the scheme will be implemented for buses and has been welcomed by many in the city.

Whilst normal tickets will still be able to be bought, passengers will be able to register their cards online and top up them up over the internet or simply at a travel centre. Unlike the system in place in London, money can also be added when on buses.

Whilst the system is to be tested by Stagecoach, the company that runs many of Cambridge buses, early next year, the full system will be implemented in the spring. Other companies are also considering similar measures.

It is currently planned that only the Megarider ticket will be available on the ‘smartcards’ but it is likely that in the future bus riders will be able to buy single tickets.

The system is designed to make travel quicker and simpler, but one student, Rosie Coombs, a second year Girtonian, told The Cambridge Student (TCS):

“I can imagine many people taking even longer to count out even more money to add to their cards, I will now have to leave earlier to get to lectures.”

Pensioners will be able to make use of their free travel through the card.

Coombs added, however, that “having to get cash out is a pain.”

It has also been announced recently that Cambridge is in the process of building the “the longest guided busway in the world”, according to the transport website for Cambridgeshire.

The website explains:

“A guided busway is a dedicated track just for buses to drive on.”

The county council for Cambridgeshire hope that providing dedicated tracks for buses will cut journey times, allowing passengers to travel along traffic-free routes.

These two initiatives are being pursued together to improve bus transport for everyone in the county.

Alex Glasner