What is the Saltire Card?
It is a proposed brand name for the National Entitlement Card (NEC) whenever it is being used as a smartcard on public transport in Scotland.
So does it already exist?
There are already 1.7 million National Entitlement Cards in circulation in Scotland. Around 1.2 million are being used, as smartcards, for the Scotlandwide concessionary travel scheme. As a next step we expect to see the card being used even more widely to carry smart ticketing products for the Scottish public transport networks.
Who can get a Saltire Card?
Every Scottish resident is entitled to open a citizen’s account, which would automatically generate the issue of a NEC. This card will have the ability to carry several public transport related smart products.
How is this funded?
The citizen's account is administered by Scotland’s 32 local authorities, in a programme funded by Scottish Government through the Improvement Service.
What about visitors to Scotland?
It is our intention to develop a cheap and lightweight version of the card for visitors.
If all this is already in place, then what is the problem?
The key challenge will be around developing a range of public transport related smart products that can be put on the card. At the moment, the only smart product that is widely available is concessionary travel.
So what needs to be done next?
Most of our work moving forward will be about ensuring the smart products operate properly from a technical perspective, identifying smart products that will be attractive to passengers, and working in partnership with local authorities, RTPs and transport operators to develop and introduce these smart products.
How will this task be started?
On 1 October 2012 we launched our Smart Ticketing Delivery Strategy. The strategy outlines that in phase 1, which is commencing now, we should establish with willing partners a series of smart related demonstrator projects.
What sort of smart products could be carried on the Saltire Card?
We expect to develop such things as weekly, monthly and annual season tickets for individual operators, as well as more complex and innovative multi operator and multi modal tickets and period passes.
When will we start to see more smart products carried on the Saltire Card?
The usual approach, followed by smartcard schemes around the world, is to firstly test things out with a small group of users, before making them widely available. We have entered that phase now and the results of the pilot projects will determine timescales.
Won't large operators want to use their own cards?
It is possible that companies like First and Stagecoach will want to develop their own products and cards. SPT are also believed to be developing their own card, while some passengers in due course may wish to use their smart phones to carry products. However, we are continuing to work with these bodies to also make their products available to be carried on the Saltire Card, in order to simplify things for passengers.
So do we actually need a Saltire Card?
The infrastructure to produce it is already there, and it is the best solution not only for concessionary travel but for many non-transport Council applications, particularly for young people. More importantly, most bus and ferry operators will not be able to justify the costs of issuing their own cards, so the Saltire Card is a vital element of the Scottish smart infrastructure if we are to realise our vision that all journeys on Scotland's bus, rail, ferry, subway and tram networks can be accessed using some form of smart ticketing or payment.