Transport for Greater Manchester’s newly introduced Get Me There card, more than five years in the making, has finally arrived – but it’s not yet as smart as London’s Oyster card system for buses and the Underground.
Transport chiefs have described its launch as ‘a further step towards delivering a fully integrated smart system across the region.’
Passengers with a Get Me There account can now buy a range of Metrolink tram and bus tickets online, avoiding the need to carry cash or queue at ticket machines – but the scheme falls short of the Oyster card’s functionality which allows holders to top up their cards with cash at accredited service points.
Smart technology has been available to Greater Manchester’s 500,000 concessionary card holders for some time, enabling them to register their free journeys on trams and buses after 9.30am, but the introduction of the Get Me There card for the wider travelling public has proved much more problematic.
The system should have been ready by the summer of 2015 but the council and Atos, the company charged in 2012 with delivering the £15million scheme, ended the contract by mutual consent.
A TfGM spokesman said: “The aim of Get Me There is to make printed tickets a thing of the past by introducing a range of smarter ways to travel including the card, and the Get Me There mobile ticketing app for Metrolink. Get Me There will allow you to plan your journey and buy tickets in advance, all you have to do is touch in when boarding a bus or tram and touch off when finishing your Metrolink journey.”
Work is continuing towards the introduction of contactless account-based ticketing where passengers can use bank cards to touch in and touch out of their journeys instead of a smart card.
Meanwhile the newly introduced system will benefit season ticket holders by enhancing security so that any lost or stolen tickets and travel cards valid for more than seven further days will be replaced with customers able to order new cards online.
There’s a new scheme for young people to save on fares too. The 16-18 Get Me There Card will halve the cost of a bus day ticket for the age group, meeting a pledge made by Andy Burnham during the Greater Manchester mayor election campaign.
Mr Burnham said: “Significantly, the 16 – 18 card will see the cost of a bus day ticket cut in half – reducing the cost of journeys and enabling our young people to more easily access work and leisure opportunities, training, education and skills.
“All this can only be good news and will, I hope, encourage more people than ever before to get on board with public transport, which will help to tackle congestion and air quality issues.”
Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, Councillor Andrew Fender, said: “I’m delighted that we’re launching a smart ticket that allows truly flexible, multi-modal travel on Greater Manchester’s trams and buses for the first time. We are on a journey with Get Me There and smart ticketing. We know the travelling public wants a world-class, integrated, pan-northern smart ticketing system, and this latest development brings us a step closer towards realising this ambition.”
Passengers can create their Get Me There account and order their smart cards online via getmethere.com