Integrated transport tickets on way


More than nine years and €48 million after it was first proposed public transport users in Dublin are expected to be able to buy integrated transport tickets "within weeks", it was announced today.

The project which has a total budget of some €55 million will eventually enable public transport users make complex journeys utilising Dublin bus, Dart, Irish Rail, Luas and Bus Éireann services - but is not expected to be fully in place until mid 2012.

Launching the latest phase of testing this morning, the National Transport Authority said 500 commuters will be offered €20 in free travel to take part in a public trial of the integrated ticket to be known as the "leap card".

The €20 free ticket will be available to the first 500 consumers who log onto the authority's website from tomorrow morning. The card will be valid for travel on Dublin Bus, Luas, Dart and Irish Rail suburban services. Bus Éireann services are expected to be added by next summer.

Leap cards will also allow discounts on the normal "cash fare" ticket prices on Luas and Irish Rail "cash fares", but not as yet on Dublin Bus.

Early next year it is hoped that users of season tickets and multiple journey cards will be able use leap cards and private bus operators are also expected to be ultimately involved.

Integrated ticketing was first put forward by the then minister for public enterprise Mary O'Rourke in 2002. Mrs O'Rourke 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 project team in 2003 and former minister for Transport the late Seamus Brennan, launched the first 'smart card' as part of the integrated ticketing project in March 2004.

This morning, Minister for State with responsibility for Public and Commuter Transport Alan Kelly rejected suggestions the deployment was haphazard, remarking that it was always intended to be a "phased basis".

Mr Kelly said "it is great to see this scheme nearing completion and positive for commuters".