Nexus, which owns, manages and is modernising Metro, has installed new ticket machines at University Metro station in Sunderland, the first station in the centre of the city to get the new technology.
The new ticket machines were unveiled at University Metro station by Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for City Services, Councillor James Blackburn, and the Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Sunderland, Shirley Atkinson.
The new machines are at the heart of a £25m project to update the ticketing system on Metro. Nexus is replacing 225 ticket machines at 60 stations.
The new machines can accept credit and debit card payment and notes, as well as coins. They are also enabled to accept smartcard payments.
The project will also see smartcard validators installed at every station and ticket gates at 13 of the busiest stations on the system. Nearly half of all Metro stations now have new ticket machines installed.
The work forms part of the £385m Metro: all change modernisation programme, which will see the system transformed over the next 11 years, including revamped stations and trains.
Director General of Nexus, Bernard Garner, said: “The programme of installing the new ticket machines at our Metro stations in Sunderland is now well underway.
“The University Metro station is the first in the centre of the city to get new ticket machines and more will follow suit. Seaburn station has also got the new technology.
“The main benefit is that the new machines accept credit and debit card payments and bank notes. The old ticket machines didn’t do so and this has been a source of frustration for Metro users.”
Deputy Vice Chancellor of the University of Sunderland, Shirley Atkinson, said: “We are very pleased that the University Metro Station has been selected as the first location in the city to launch the new ticket machines.
The new technology will prove hugely popular among our staff and students who are regular users of the service.
“I have no doubt these machines will greatly enhance travel provision for Metro users.”
Sunderland Council portfolio holder for City Services, Cllr James Blackburn said: “Modernising ticketing arrangements to meet the changing needs of passengers can only help increase the number of people using the Metro and improve services in Sunderland still further.
“We are delighted at the new investment in the system here in our city and hope the new machines are a success and encourage even more people to use public transport.”
Unlike the current Metro ticket machines, which are 30 year-old, the new machines boast touch screen technology.
For the first time passengers can buy weekly Metro tickets directly from the machines up to seven days in advance of using them.
The information screens display in six different languages, which makes the ticket machines more user friendly, especially for the growing number of tourists flocking to the region.
The new machines are enabled to handle smartcard transactions for the new Pop card. Passengers will be able to use the new ticket machines to top up their Pop Cards.
Pop is the name of the new travel smartcard which is being rolled out across Tyne and Wear. The Pop card’s functionality will develop into a full ‘pay as you ride’ option with stored cash balance on cards in 2012.
The new ticket machines are also set up to accept credit and debit card payments via payWave, the contactless method of card payment that involves simply touching the credit/debit card against a sensor. This is an added feature passengers can look forward to in the future.
More than 120 staff who work for DB Regio, which operates Metro stations and trains on behalf of Nexus, have been trained to help passengers use the new machines as more and more of them are installed at Metro stations.