Half of all Tyne and Wear Metro passengers no longer use cash to make their journeys, operator Nexus has revealed.
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, the public body which owns and manages Metro, 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 this week of Pop blue – a new smartcard for young people that allows them to make Metro journeys for £1.
Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “Cashless and contactless payments on Metro are now overtaking the use of notes and coins, as our passengers choose easier and quicker ways to pay for their travel.
“We introduced new ticket machines to give our passengers more choice and flexibility but even 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.
“What we have seen is in line with a national trend as more and more consumers move away from carrying cash altogether. Where this helps us reduce costs we pass that on to the customer – for example this year we have frozen the price of travel with a Pop Pay as You travel, where you can save 30p on a single ticket and 40p for all day travel.
“We will continue to provide the option of cash payment at machines because some people still want to use notes and coins, but we do save from having less cash flowing through and stored in ticket machines and spending less time handling it.
“I would encourage people to save time and money by getting a free Pop Pay as You Go, or just save time by using a contactless card to pay. Either way you never need cash to travel on Metro again.”
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.