Nexus, the public body which owns and operates the Tyne and wear Metro, is trialling card only payments at some Metro ticket machines, prompted by the increasing number of customers who are opting for cashless transactions.
Three of the eight ticket machines at Central Station in Newcastle city centre have been set up to only accept credit/debit card payments.
Nexus is keen to see how popular the move is, and if it can be rolled out to other stations on the Metro system.
More than half of all Metro passengers have switched from using cash to pay for travel – choosing smart cards and contactless payment at ticket machines instead, including Google Pay and Apple Pay.
Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “Cashless and contactless payments are overtaking the use of notes and coins on Metro, which is why we are trialling our first ever cashless ticket machines at Central Station.
“The aim to see how popular this proves with customers, with a view to having card only machines at other key Metro stations.
“Our new ticket machines give passengers more choice and flexibility, and we have been surprised at how quickly they have moved away from using notes and coins for even quite small purchases like a £1.50 single ticket.
“If we roll out card only ticket machines to other parts of the network then we’ll ensure that customers do have that cash payment option at some of the ticket machines. Cash payments won’t disappear completely just yet.”
The switch to credit/debit cards, contactless payments and the Pop smart cards heralds the end of payment with notes and coins on the busy urban rail system, which is used by 38 million passengers a year.
Nexus introduced ticket machines that accept bank card payments and smartcards as well as notes and coins at all 60 of its stations in June 2013.
In 2017 there were nine million transactions at Metro ticket machines, and two thirds of these transactions are made using contactless cards which further reduces the time customers spend at machines.
Pop Pay As You Go now accounts for 7% of all Metro journeys, and that figure is expected to increase with prices frozen for smartcard users in 2018 and the launch of Pop blue – a new smartcard for young people that allows them to make Metro journeys for £1.
Credit/debit cards now account for 56% of revenue from Metro ticket machines and had grown to 48% of all transactions by December 2017
66% of these transactions are by people using contactless cards.94% of students use credit/debit cards to pay for Metro travel
75% of Metrosaver weekly, four-weekly and annual season tickets are bought with cards.
59% of older and disable people buying the £12 annual metro Gold Card use credit/debit cards rather than cash.