Leap card to be introduced in all Irish cities by end of 2015

One third of all public transport trips in Dublin now taken using pre-paid system

Minister of State for Public Transport Alan Kelly with Wendy Twomey (left) from Raheny and Ciara Harte from Rush at the Stephen’s Green Luas stop in Dublin today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Minister of State for Public Transport Alan Kelly with Wendy Twomey (left) from Raheny and Ciara Harte from Rush at the Stephen’s Green Luas stop in Dublin today. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

The Leap card integrated ticketing system for travel on public transport will be operational in all cities around the country by the end of next year, Minister of State for Public Transport Alan Kelly has said.

Cork became the second city after Dublin to use the system last month, and the technology will be rolled out on public transport in Galway early in 2015, followed by Limerick, Mr Kelly confirmed.

The Minister of State was speaking in Dublin today to announce a new auto top-up option for Leap, whereby cards are automatically credited by direct debit when the balance on them falls below a certain amount.

New figures from the National Transport Authority show one-third of public transport journeys taken by commuters in Dublin are now paid for using the cards.

More than 500,000 pre-paid cards covering transport on Dublin Bus, Luas and Dart have been sold since the integrated ticketing system was introduced in December 2011, with 300,000 in “active use” over the past two months.

“It is a huge milestone achieved in just over two years,” Mr Kelly said.

Around €1.25 million worth of journeys are taken using the card in a typical week, with 47 million trips taken in total since the scheme began. The Leap card currently offers savings of up to 23 per cent compared to cash.

“It is way ahead of where we thought it would be, way ahead of schedule… Virtually every commuter in Dublin now has a Leap card,” Mr Kelly added.

“They know there’s value in the Leap card, they know it is the easiest way of paying for your public transport, and to have half a million cards is amazing.”

Although the percentage of trips paid for using a Leap card has been steadily increasing since the scheme was introduced, usage is still relatively low compared to London, where the pre-paid Oyster card is used for more than 85 per cent of bus and rail journeys.

A spokeswoman for the National Transport Authority said London’s Oyster card offered savings of up to half compared to cash, which was the “key driver” for its growth in popularity.

“The NTA intends to continue increasing the savings of Leap versus cash in a measured fashion over the coming years which will encourage even greater take-up of the card,” she said.

An analysis by the NTA at the end of March found approximately 9,000 cards had not been used for two years or more, and are now considered “dormant”. The NTA is holding €64,000 in deposits and travel credit on these cards.

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