Glasgow Subway goes digital with 100,000 smart travel cards issued

Glasgow’s subway ticketing system is going digital, with 100,000 new Bramble travel cards now in circulation. The cards are comparable to the reusable Oyster cards issued by Transport for London (TfL) and enable users to top up and store value on the card.

The news comes after data from Barclaycard pointed to a big uptick in contactless payments in Scotland with Glasgow seeing a 243% annual increase in spending. Edinburgh was also at the higher end in the table with 206% increase.

Where we pay in the UK: Contactless

The cards are issued by Nevis Technologies – a joint venture between Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (STP) (which runs the metro and specialist buses in the Scottish city) and smart travel tech firm Ecebs that now belongs to tech firm Rambus.

In London, Transport for London’s decision to make tube, bus and train travel totally cash free is credited with helping drive the adoption of contactless technology in the city. Travellers can now pay get through the ticket turnstiles either their Oyster card or with a contactless-enabled payment card or mobile wallet (– or a paper ticket).

By forcing customers to use the technology, it has familiarised the mainstream with the technology paved the way for contactless payments in stores, restaurants and other venues. While there are arguments that this risks cutting some demographics out of the chain and there are situations in which not being able to use cash is decidedly inconvenient, there’s little doubt the move helped make the UK one of the biggest adopters of the technology.

“The future of transport will rely more on smart integrated ticketing as our customers demand more convenience and ease of travel,” says Eric Stewart, SPT assistant chief executive. “Public transport operators are looking to work together to ensure journeys become as easy and simple as possible for passengers, and increasing the adoption of smart technology is key to achieving this.”

Nevis Technologies has been operating in the Glasgow subway since 2013, as part of the £300m modernisation programme implemented ahead of the Commonwealth Games which took place in the city the following year. It was also appointed by train operator Abellio to implement smart ticketing across ScotRail, where 93 million passenger journeys are taken a year while 13 million passenger journeys were taken on the Glasgow Subway in 2014 and 2015.

Check out Eceb’s infographic on smart travel here!

Smart tickets

Smart tickets 2

Related reading