Dublin Bus replaced its on-bus ticketing system on a phased basis. The first phase of the project (completed in 2006) was the replacement of the drivers’ ticket issuing machines.
The second phase of the project (completed June 2008) was the installation of smart card readers on all buses. With the introduction of smart card readers, a range of Dublin Bus prepaid tickets were converted from magnetic stripe cards to smart cards.
The third and final phase of the project is the introduction of the Integrated Ticketing Scheme. This allows customers to use one card to access the services of all licenced public transport operators in the Dublin area. The initial stage of the Integrated Ticketing Scheme was deployed in December 2011, with the launch of the Leap Card.
The on-bus ticketing system is supplied by UK-based Parkeon.
What is integrated ticketing?
At its simplest, integrated ticketing allows a customer to make a journey that involves transfers (within or between different transport modes) with a single ticket that is valid for the complete journey.
Dublin Bus, along with its sister companies in the CIE Group, has for many years provided a range of integrated tickets suited to specific segments of the public transport market. These tickets provide the customer with unlimited travel for time periods ranging from one day to one year.
The Government mandated the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) with the task of providing the integrated ticketing system that will support the future requirements of public transport in Dublin. This integrated ticketing system is based on smart cards. Smart cards are plastic cards with embedded microelectronic chips that contain data. In transport ticketing, smart cards need only be touched against the card reader for the reader to check the validity of the ticket. Added to this ease of use, smart cards also offer a greater range of ticketing options that will be very well suited to the multi-modal transport system that is being developed for Dublin.
A phased introduction of smart card ticketing
The installation of the ticketing system used on the Dublin Bus fleet was completed in 2006. It supports on-bus cash payment for paper tickets, validation of magnetic stripe tickets and validation of smart cards.
With the ultimate aim of delivering a fully integrated system where a single card is accepted by all transport providers, there were a number of phases to achieve this aim. As an interim step, smart cards were introduced by some transport operators for exclusive use on their own services. Dublin Bus has also adopted this approach. This allowed systems to be thoroughly tested prior to their integration.
Initially Dublin Bus has introduced a range of disposable smart cards to replace the majority of tickets that had been based on magnetic stripe cards.
In December 2007 the initial testing of smart card ticketing equipment commenced on buses. In January 2008, smart card readers were installed on 100 buses and more extensive testing commenced. As testing continued in the first half of 2008, equipment was progressively rolled out to the entire bus fleet. Full rollout was completed in June 2008. Smart card tickets were first available to the public in July 2008. By early 2010, 95% of all prepaid tickets used on Dublin Bus services were smart card tickets.
Integrated Ticketing Scheme (ITS) – Leap Card
Development of the ITS is progressing. The first phase of this implementation was deployed in February 2011. This involved a controlled test of the ITS card on Dublin Bus and Luas services. The card, issued to a limited group of test users, carried a Dublin Bus/Luas Annual ticket. The test was confined to routes operating from Summerhill depot and both Luas lines.
The next stage of implementation saw the launch of the Leap Card, in December 2011. The Leap Card initially supports a stored value purse (“travelCredit”) which can be topped up and used to pay from travel on Dublin Bus, Irish Rail services in the Dublin area and Luas.
During 2012 additional functionality will be added to the Leap Card that will allow daily and weekly capping to be offered along with the loading of a full range of prepaid tickets.