Smarter travel is being introduced across the North East as local bus operators and local authorities today launched Scotland’s first smart multi-operator travel. From Monday (22 August), the popular GrassHOPPER pass which currently exists as a paper ticket only, will go smart, bringing greater convenience to bus passengers across Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire.
Customers will now be able to store the GrassHOPPER ticket electronically on a smartcard – either a StagecoachSmart card, a First Touch card or a Grasshopper smartcard – meaning they no longer need a paper ticket and can use one smartcard when travelling with any participating operator. Passengers can then simply tap their card on the ticket machine when boarding the bus and their journey will be recorded.
Coach and bus operators across north-east Scotland joined forces in 2014 to launch the first multi-operator bus ticket. Since then the ticket has developed reflective of demand and now offers unlimited travel from just £4.20 per day in Aberdeen City.
The GrassHOPPER Pass, which has seen a steady growth in uptake since its launch, is a partnership led by local bus operators and administered by Aberdeenshire Council. The partnership is also supported by Aberdeen City Council and NESTRANS. With over 17,500 passenger journeys being made every month using GrassHOPPER tickets the partnership is going from strength to strength and is the first multi-operator ticket of its kind to be introduced to smart ticketing in Scotland.
The Smart GrassHOPPER ticket was launched today at St Nicholas Square in Aberdeen by Bill Reeve, Commercial Director for Transport Scotland on behalf of Scottish Transport Minister, Humza Yousaf. The Minister for Transport and the Islands welcomed the initiative and said:
“It’s great to see Scotland’s first regional multi-operator smart ticketing scheme go live. Giving passengers the option to have one ticket that can get them on a number of bus services should help encourage more people out of their cars and onto public transport. I’d like to thank operators for their commitment to making this product, delivered on the saltirecard, a reality and in doing so making integrated journeys simple. I look forward to seeing even more smart ticketing schemes rolled out across the country in the future”
Steve Walker, Managing Director for Stagecoach North Scotland added: “It is fantastic to see the GrassHOPPER ticket reach another milestone in its introduction – the fact that it can now be stored on smartcards, including our StagecoachSmart card – will deliver greater convenience to customers and cut down the amount of paper tickets issued. The GrassHOPPER tickets have gone from strength to strength since the launch back in 2014 and we look forward to welcoming even more passengers on our buses now that the product has got even smarter.”
Daniel Laird, Commercial Manager, at First Aberdeen said: “With our partners we’re proud to be at the forefront of Smart ticketing in Scotland. Using the latest technology we’ve already introduced m-Tickets which enables our customers to use their mobile phones as bus tickets. The introduction of Smart to GrassHOPPER is further good news for customers as we make using the bus a smarter and simpler travel alternative.”
Doug Bain, speaking on behalf of the independent bus operators in the North East of Scotland said: “The success of the GrassHOPPER ticket has demonstrated that there is demand for this type of bus ticket. Being able to offer the ticket on smartcards is another positive addition which will allow all customers in the north east to benefit from the convenience of multi-operator bus travel using one ticket.”
Nestrans Chair, Councillor Ramsay Milne added “I am pleased that our region is at the forefront of implementing this new technology, which will be of further benefit to North East passengers and I would like to thank and congratulate all those involved in its development.”
The ‘GrassHOPPER’ Day and Weekly tickets were designed to make bus travel in the city and shire more convenient, meaning customers no longer need to purchase separate tickets when using different operators for one journey. The change has saved up to 40% on the cost of a ticket. Aberdeenshire Council has played a major role in facilitating the introduction of the tickets, which are available for purchase on services operated by First Aberdeen, Stagecoach, Bains Coaches, Central Coaches, Deveron Coaches, J&M Burns Coaches, Kininmonth Cabs, M.W Nicoll Coaches and Mid-Deeside Ltd.
The introduction of Smart cards follows a pledge from major bus operators across Scotland to deliver smart, multi-operator ticketing for millions of bus passengers in Scotland during 2016-2017. That project is also expected to extend to rail, ferries and the subway in the future and bus operators are also supporting the introduction of a Scotland-wide Saltire card scheme that is being delivered by Transport Scotland and will allow customers to top up their smartcards with funds – similar to the way the Oyster card works in London.
GrassHOPPER passes can be bought direct from drivers. Visit http://www.grasshopperpass.com for further information and details on ticket zones and fares.