Nexus, which owns, manages and is modernising Metro, is stepping up the installation of its new ticket machines during February and March, with Byker among the first Metro stations to be upgraded in Newcastle.
The new ticket machines were officially unveiled by Newcastle East MP Nick Brown and Chairman of the Tyne and Wear ITA, Cllr David Wood.
Nexus will be installing new ticket machines at Metro stations every week from now on, with new machines so far appearing at seven stations: Byker, Chichester, Four Lane Ends, Gateshead Stadium, Palmersville, Regent Centre and Tyne Dock.
The new ticket 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.
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.
Chairman of the Tyne and Wear ITA, Cllr David Wood, said: “The installation of the new Metro ticket machines is starting to gather momentum and I’m really pleased to say that Byker is the first station in Newcastle to get them.
“More and more stations will get new ticket machines over the coming weeks and they will really transform the way the public use the Metro system. They accept bank notes and credit and debit card payments, making life much easier for the passengers.”
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.
Nexus has also printed a guide to using the new ticket machines which is available from Nexus Travel Shops and there is an online tutorial on the Nexus website at www.nexus.org.uk/metro.