National Express tests fare payment smartcard

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The Independent Online

National Express is to join a scheme to provide smartcards allowing electronic payment for journeys on buses and trains.The company said yesterday it had paid £4m for a 10 per cent stake in Prepayment Cards Limited, which supplies the technology. Transport groups Stagecoach and FirstGroup already have stakes of 20 per cent each in PCL.

National Express is to join a scheme to provide smartcards allowing electronic payment for journeys on buses and trains.The company said yesterday it had paid £4m for a 10 per cent stake in Prepayment Cards Limited, which supplies the technology. Transport groups Stagecoach and FirstGroup already have stakes of 20 per cent each in PCL.

The system will be introduced this summer for buses in Manchester. National Express will pilot a scheme in Coventry later this year. The cards, which need to be charged up with money, also allow loyalty and frequent-user schemes.

Helen McCorry, spokeswoman for National Express, said the move would further the Government's aim of creating an integrated transport system. Paul Henry, sales and marketing director of PCL, said the smartcards had uses beyond transport, such as payment for meals in schools.

The technology is already in use in many countries. In Hong Kong, PCL's smartcards pay for 75 per cent of journeys.

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