Integrated ticketing card launched

Mon, Dec 12, 2011, 00:00

More than nine years after it was first proposed, a new integrated ticketing system for public transport in the greater Dublin area was officially launched by the Minister for Public Transport Alan Kelly today.

The Leap card allows people to use bus, Luas, Dart and rail services in the capital using one ticket. The cards can be bought at over 400 shops and newsagents or online at www.leapcard.ie.

A €5 refundable deposit is charged for an adult card and €3 for a child’s. A minimum travel credit of €5 must be placed on the card at the time of first purchase.

Travel credit works like phone credit. The card is topped-up in multiples of €5 and the cost of the fare is deducted from the balance every time a journey is made. The card can be topped-up in shops or online.

The launch of the Leap Card follows 15,000 successful test journeys by members of the public, according to Mr Kelly.

“The card will be among the cheapest ways to get around Dublin and will make public transport more attractive. We hope the card will push people towards public transport,” he said.

“We hope up to 250,000 people will use it. We will have a media campaign in the New Year. This is the future and it’s a bright future.”

Tim Gaston, a director on the project, said flexibility and convenience are the card’s greatest advantages for commuters.

He said error rates in the new system were “exceptionally low” at less than half of one per cent of journeys.

The new system will continue being developed throughout 2012 with new functionalities being added in phases. Bus Éireann and private bus operators will join the scheme in the New Year and multiple tickets such as the Rambler and Travel 90 will be added to it.

There will be a link up with the Department of Social Protection so that people entitled to free travel will receive a Leap card programmed with their details and therefore can avail of their free transport using the system.

Cards indicate how much credit is left after a journey is made. It issues a low value warning when the balance is close to zero.

Users are being advised to register their Leap cards after they buy them at www.leapcard.ie. In this way, if a card is reported lost or stolen no-one else can use it and the user is refunded the credit on the card.

The card - which has been in development for a number of years – will offer a 9 per cent saving on Dublin Bus fares after an increase in general fares comes into effect in January, up to 17 per cent off on certain Luas tickets, and between 16 and 19 per cent off on single Iarnród Éireann fares.

Integrated ticketing was first put forward in 2002 by then minister for public enterprise Mary O’Rourke. She said she wanted to see the system in place as soon as possible but conceded it could take two years.

The Railway Procurement Agency established an integrated ticketing scheme in 2003 and former minister for transport, the late Séamus Brennan, launched the first “smart card” as part of the integrated ticketing project in March 2004.

The Leap card system has cost €55 million to date.