Smartcard trial users with Project Manager Louise Curran
Mike Walker, Smartcard trial user, Louise Curran, Merseytravel Smart and Integrated Ticketing Project Manager and Mark Williams, Smartcard trial user

Merseyside’s Walrus has notched up a ‘double first’

Walrus – Merseytravel’s smartcard, which will help to revolutionise transport in the city region – has marked its first birthday with a UK ‘first’ in smart ticketing.

The three-month trial of a smartcard ‘ticket at home’ system, involving 50 members of the public, has exceeded all expectations, and Merseytravel aim to develop the system alongside the full roll-out of the Walrus smartcard next year.

In the year since Walrus was launched, work has concentrated on installing all the technical equipment which will allow the system to work across public transport in the region, but the Walrus will ‘hit the streets’ extensively throughout 2013 – and the new at home ticketing system will be part of the programme.

The new system allows customers to download smartcard products such as travel tickets instantly onto their card through a reader attached to their PC.

“Response to the trial has been overwhelmingly positive, and we can see many benefits, not just for individual customers, but for the travelling public as a whole – reducing queuing, for example. Merseytravel always believes in innovation, and this is a very good example,” said Cllr Liam Robinson, Chair of Merseytravel.

Traditionally, smartcard systems mean that the user has to go to a top-up point such as a ticket vending machine or manned kiosk to top up their smartcard, or to buy smart products online and collect them at a rail gate or bus, usually 24 hours later.

The instant system has been a big hit with Mark Williams from Chester – one of the 50 ‘triallists’. He said, “As a usual season ticket traveller, having a Walrus card is so much more convenient, it means I don’t have to get to the station 20 minutes before my train is due to get my ticket organised which is great and really speeds up my journey.”

Details of the ‘ticket at home’ system and the initial trial feedback will be revealed to industry leaders at a two-day seminar being held at Merseytravel’s HQ in Liverpool on September 25 and 26.