July 29 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, March 29, 2014
A new multi-purpose smartcard ticket scheme for Norwich’s park and ride service has been launched – and will be called Holdall.
The card allows passengers to buy bus tickets without cash, similar to the Oyster Card used in London, but bosses hope it will ultimately be used for paying for council services from museum entry to school dinners.
However, fare prices will be going up when the new scheme comes into effect on April 14 – with a some tickets rising by as much as 40%.
David Harrison, Norfolk County Council’s cabinet member for transport, said: “It’s starting with park and ride services but could then be expanded into bus services in their totality, regardless of operator throughout the county.
He added: “The system is multi-purpose and ahead of the curve. It’s designed to bring transport payment into the 21st century and we’ve decided to integrate it into all services.”
Mr Harrison defended the price hike which, when announced last year, led some passengers to threaten to abandon the service and get back in their cars.
“The main point was to keep the services going: the options were to cut one of them, which would have been ridiculous, because park and ride in Norfolk is top of the game, so we put up the prices, rightly or wrongly, and I think people have accepted that,” he said.
The Holdall scheme has been paid for using a £2.5m grant from the Department for Transport, and its designers say it puts Norfolk at the forefront of smartcard technology.
Passengers will still be able to buy tickets with cash after the scheme launches next month, but can only access the money-saving multi-ticket deals with the Holdall card through the dedicated website.
A peak-time daily return ticket, currently £2.40, will become an unlimited day travel ticket costing £3 through Holdall, or £3.50 if paid in cash, while a peak four-week pass rises from £41 to £57.50.
Transport chiefs have insisted in the past that the new park and ride fares will still be cheaper than taking a commercial bus service, or driving and paying for city-centre parking.
Passengers are now being encouraged to sign up for their cards now at www.norfolk.gov.uk/holdall to be ready for the launch date.
What do you think of the new smartcard scheme? Write, with your full details, to Letters, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.