A pay-as-you-go travel card has been launched in Kent today, allowing passengers to pay for their bus travel without having to scrabble around for change.
The Connected Kent and Medway smartcard has been designed as a joint initiative between Kent County Council and Medway Council and will be available for use from Monday, September 26.
The pay-as-you-go card closely resembles the capital’s Oyster card in that it can be topped up online, at certain libraries or in person on the bus.
There is also the ability for the card to auto top-up, meaning that if you forget, the card will have done it for you and you will always have credit.
It will initially be accepted on seven operators: Nu-Venture, Autocar, Chalkwell, ASD, County Connect, Farleigh and Go-Coach.
KCC Cabinet Member for Environment and Transport Matthew Balfour said: “This scheme will make it easier for people to get around the county by bus as well as speeding up the time it takes to board.
“You won’t have to worry about not having change and if you’re with your family, you can use the card to pay for their fare as well.
“Our main aim with this card is to make it effortless for passengers to travel on different routes, with multiple operators and this, we hope, will provide a viable alternative to the car journey.
“Ultimately it will help tackle congestion and support the regeneration of the Kent economy.”
In the long term, Kent County Council wants to see a smartcard which can be expanded to include train journeys, bike hire, car hire, and allow residents an easy door-to-door journey.
Mr Balfour added: “I very much welcome the commitment of the bus operators who are helping us launch this exciting new smartcard and their support has been key in making this happen.”
Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Front Line Services Cllr Phil Filmer said: “This new smartcard not only modernises the way people pay for bus travel, but it will also speed up the system to fit with customers’ busy lifestyles.
“We’re all in a rush these days, so anything we can do to make local travel more convenient for residents can only be a good thing.
“The introduction of the payment card may even encourage more drivers to ditch the car and try travelling by bus instead.”
People can visit a journey planning website at www.kentconnected.org and the smartcard website is www.connectedkentandmedway.org
Libraries where you can top-up the smart card are: Maidstone, Dartford, Sittingbourne, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.
What is a smartcard?
A smartcard can store tickets and credit and can be used to pay for travel instead of cash.
You pre-load the card with cash and then use the money on the card to pay for your ticket instead of cash. When asked, hold your smartcard against the reader as you board the bus and the money for your fare will be deducted from your card.
What is Connected Kent + Medway?
Connected Kent + Medway (Connected) is a Kent County Council (KCC) and Medway Council scheme.
Why should I get a Connected smartcard?
The Connected card provides an easier and more convenient way to pay for your bus tickets. You don’t need to worry about having the correct change and paying for your journey is faster than using cash.
With money pre-loaded onto your card, either manually or though auto top up, there is no need to plan travel in advance or worry about whether you have enough cash in your pocket to pay for your journey.
How much does the smartcard cost?
The card is FREE but you have to purchase a minimum amount of credit when you request a card.
- Online – £10
- Auto top-up – £15
- In Person at a retail outlet – £5
How do I get a smartcard?
You can apply online or you can get one in person at one of our retail outlets. If you apply online your card will automatically be registered giving you access to additional features and benefits. If you apply for one at a retail outlet you can register your card online at a later stage or, if you prefer you can keep it anonymous but you will not be entitled to any refunds or protection if your card is lost or stolen.
Why should I register my card?
Registering your card has many benefits. If you lose your card you can easily cancel it and the remaining credit will be saved and transferred to your new card. Registering also allows you to keep track of your balance, view your journeys and configure auto top up.
How long does it take to get a smartcard?
If you apply for a card online, it will be delivered to the address supplied within 5-10 days maximum.
What tickets can I buy using a smartcard?
At the moment the Connected card is a Pay-As-You-Go scheme only which means you can only add cash onto the card. This can then be used to purchase any tickets that you would normally buy using cash on the bus, up to a cash value of £50.
In the future we hope to be able to load actual tickets onto the card, such as a weekly pass.