Public backing for £20 million Oyster-style smart card system in Black Country ahead of Budget

Almost nine in 10 people in the Black Country have backed plans for an Oyster-style smart card system for public transport, according to a new poll.

Leaders from across the region are calling for a nationwide smart ticketing scheme for public transport
Leaders from across the region are calling for a nationwide smart ticketing scheme for public transport

The Midlands-wide 'tap and cap' scheme would enable travellers to take bus, tram and rail journeys under a daily payment cap.

Transport bosses want to launch the scheme next year, and are hoping Chancellor Rishi Sunak will announce the £20 million needed to get it up and running in next week's Budget.

A poll of 800 people in the Black Country found 88 per cent of respondents supportive of the plan, while six people said having a smart ticketing system in place would make them more likely to use public transport.

Meanwhile 83 per cent backed the Midlands Engine Rail plan to modernise the region's rail network, creating space for more than 700 additional train services each day and boosting the movement of freight by rail.

And 92 per cent of respondents supported plans to slash journey times from Birmingham through to local stations including Sandwell, Dudley Port and Wolverhampton.

Jane Stevenson, MP for Wolverhampton North East, said: “For the people of Wolverhampton, investing in a ‘tap and cap’ smart ticketing system really is a no-brainer.

"Not only will it offer safe, seamless and convenient travel, but it will also provide better value for money for commuters that no longer work in an office five days a week.

"This investment, alongside Midlands Engine Rail, will support jobs and bolster our economic recovery."

Impact

Jackie Taylor, cabinet member for sustainable transport at Sandwell Council, urged Ministers to "take note" of the "conclusive" results of the poll.

She added: "Despite the challenges of Covid-19, we are in the midst of a climate emergency; these investments will bolster public transport use post-pandemic and level up our region to empower more people to leave their cars at home.”

Maria Machancoses, director of Midlands Connect, said the poll showed that "local people value investment in public transport".

"As well as having public support, all of the schemes Midlands Connect has submitted to Government this budget are backed by evidence – demonstrating the positive impact they will have on economic, social and environmental outcomes," she added.

"We are confident Government will continue to support our considered, affordable and deliverable vision for a more connected, prosperous and mobile Midlands region.”

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said the scheme would ensure better value for money for commuters.

The Oyster card scheme was launched in London in 2003 and allows travel on buses, the tube and railways.

The 'tap and cap' scheme forms part of a Midlands Connect submission to the Government on creating a "greener and sustainable" transport network across the region.

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