Page last updated at 06:30 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 07:30 UK

Newport Bus brings in smart card for passengers

Newport University student Gemma Aubrey, 21, show off her Passport card
The bus travel smart card is said to be first of its kind in Wales

A bus firm is launching a photo ID "smart card" which it says will make frequent bus travel easier and cheaper.

Newport Bus is offering the credit card-size "passport" card at weekly, monthly and annual rates.

The assembly government, which is sharing its equipment with the firm, has a Wales-wide smart card scheme for 650,000 concessionary pass holders.

Later this month Newport Bus is to launch a top-up payment card for less frequent bus users.

Adults taking up a Passport card can expect to pay £12 for unlimited use over a week of Newport Bus's four dozen or so services in the city and to and from Cardiff and Cwmbran.

The monthly rate is £46.80. The annual rate is £561.60. Concessionary rates are available for students and children.

The firm said the scheme makes it the first in Wales to run a commercial smart card system for bus passengers.

'Reducing costs'

It said the smart card was aimed at encouraging bus use. The firm said it has 7.6m passenger journeys and in the past 12 months it has seen more than 100,000 more.

Under the National Transport Plan, the Welsh Assembly Government plans to introduce the new Wales Transport Entitlement card by 2014.

Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "This is an important step in the development of an all Wales transport entitlement card and I am delighted that Newport Transport has made the move to smart cards.

"The Welsh Assembly Government has ensured that the back office for the concessionary fares smart card scheme has the capacity for an all Wales transport entitlement card."

He said the smart card technology enabled "the Welsh Assembly Government and all of the 22 local authorities to offer a more flexible transport system for our citizens, reducing costs, improving efficiency and offering travellers throughout Wales an improved travel experience".

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