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Bus smartcard scheme rolled out

16 September 09 11:30 GMT

A new smartcard to speed up using public transport in Wales has been launched with concessionary bus pass holders being the first to benefit.

The scheme, dubbed the Welsh "Oyster" card, has been designed to reduce costs and improve efficiency.

Users will be able to swipe the cards on special equipment installed in 2,500 buses across Wales.

The assembly government hopes it will lead to concessionary and paying users using it on all public transport.

Under the scheme 650,000 concessionary pass holders will be able to use the smartcards across Wales and, in some cases, over the border into England.

Deputy First Minister and Minister for the Economy and Transport Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "I'm delighted that this new system will now be in place for all users of the free bus across all 22 local authorities in Wales.

"This is only the beginning of this technology. We will now begin to develop the Wales Transport Entitlement card, which will mean that people could only need one card to travel on all bus and train services in Wales.

"We have already started installing some of the 2,500 new ticket machines that will read these cards on buses across Wales and expect to make further good progress throughout this year."

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

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