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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 06:25 GMT
Mobile phone becomes train ticket
Mobile phone
Mobile phones could be used to make travel easier
Public transport users in Tyne and Wear may soon be able to use their mobile phone as a bus or train ticket.

Metro operator Nexus is trialing a scheme in which tickets are issued by text message.

A similar scheme operates in the Finnish capital of Helsinki. But Nexus hopes the idea will catch on the UK.

Nexus staff are involved in the trial, which sees tickets issued on demand via SMS texts and fares added to mobile phone bills.

The EU is funding the Tyne and Wear trial as well as others in Bologna and Bucharest.

With mobile phone usage so high among the young, Nexus sees text ticketing as a crucial step in changing transport habits for years to come in the North East.

Travellers taking part in the trial are being charged 4 for a 24-hour travel ticket on the Tyne and Wear Metro, with the cost added to mobile phone bills.

'Major breakthrough'

Nexus claims the new technology could help cut fare dodging, fight traffic congestion and speed up travel with fewer queues for tickets at machines.

Feedback on the trial run begins next month, when Nexus will canvass opinion from travellers involved before considering the way forward for the scheme.

Nexus Commercial Director Andy Bairstow said: "This system is already 100% operational, with a real live trial of 100 customers underway.

"If the technology works, North East travellers could be able to buy tickets through mobile phones in the very near future.

"A lot of time and effort has gone into an idea which makes ticket-buying easier than ever - and this could prove to be a major breakthrough for public transport in the UK.

"We are especially hopeful that the idea could catch on among the young, with so many young people carrying mobile phones."

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