Another smart card ticketing system to be introduced in 2014

First published in News St Albans & Harpenden Review: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

Plans to introduce the Oyster card system to St Albans have been rejected by the Department for Transport.

However the Government department said the reason it was rejecting the proposals by First Capital Connect to extend the Oyster Travelcard and Pay As You Go schemes to the city was because it wants to introduce another form of travel card technology.

The alternative system, ITSO, is scheduled to be introduced in St Albans - however, not until 2014.

The Government-backed travelcard scheme is already in use in other parts of the country and the Department of Transport wants to extend it to the south east. Travellers will be able to use their cards on trains and buses across the UK.

It will be up to First Capital Connect to set the fares for journeys.

The company said it was "disappointed" the bid for the Oyster card extension was rejected.

A spokesman from the train operating company said: “The extension of Oyster would have been a major benefit to our customers.

“However we recognise the additional benefits that nationally accepted ITSO-compliant cards will bring to integrated travel.

“FCC is fully committed to introducing this technology for the benefit of customers as early as possible.”

Theresa Villiers, rail minister at the Department of Transport, said: “ITSO is better suited to meet the requirements for a smart ticketing system across the national rail network, as it has the capacity to store a wide range of transport tickets and it provides a highly secure environment for ticketing transactions.”

The department has also allocated £45m to speed up the delivery of the new smart ticketing system on commuter routes in the south east.

Ms Villiers added: “This is a significant investment and provides an ideal platform to enable early rollout of smart and innovative ticketing – including the possible introduction of more flexible season tickets.”

However the news that plans to extend the Oyster card system have been rejected, which came in the same week that it was announced that the train journey between St Albans and London is one of the most expensive per mile in the county, has disappointed some residents.

The county councillor for St Albans, Chris White, said: “I think we need an improve service and a look at the cost of commuting to St Albans."

However the Liberal Democrat councillor said he understands the advantages of the new nationwide technology. He added: “If something better is coming it is possibly better to wait a few years for it.

“Although we might have to wait a while, this will be a better solution.”

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