Nexus, which owns and manages Tyne and Wear Metro, has begun testing its new station validators which passengers will soon be using to access the system using smartcards.
Validators, automatic gates and smart Metro ticket machines are being installed as part of the roll out of the new smart travel system on Metro – the Pop card.
The yellow validators are situated at all Metro stations which do not have automatic ticket gates installed.
Passengers will use the validators to ‘touch in’ and ‘touch out’ of Metro stations, in a similar way that the Oyster Card is used on the London Underground.
The work forms part of the £385m Metro: all change modernisation programme, which will the system transformed over 11 years with new-look stations, refurbished trains and new tracks.
There are 196 smartcard validators on the Metro system that need to undergo acceptance tests ahead of the big switch on later this year, when they will be made live alongside the electronic ticket gates at 13 key stations.
The new technology will have a phased introduction so that Metro's 38 million passengers have a smooth transition to the new way of travelling.
All customers need to do for now is to apply for a Pop card from the Nexus website, www.nexus.org.uk/pop.
Nexus will notify passengers well in advance of the date when they can start using their smartcards on the new ticket gates and validators.
Director of Customer Services for Nexus, Tobyn Hughes, said: “The Pop card revolution is getting closer and the new Metro station validators are central to the new smarter way of traveling.
“Passengers will see more of the validators being switched on at Metro stations in the coming weeks. All you need to do for now is apply online for a Pop card.
“Each validator has a screen and a card reader below for passengers to validate their Pop card at the start and end of each journey on Metro. We will let people know well in advance when they need to start using the validators.
“When the system goes live it will be a massive change in the way people use the Metro system and we will ensure the public are fully informed about what they will need to do well ahead of the big switch on date.”
Nexus has already issued over 7,000 adult Pop cards so far and the number is on the increase.
The Pop card is a credit card sized piece of plastic that will allow you to buy Metro travel in new ways, including online.
Travel products like weekly, 4-weekly and annual MetroSavers can be easily uploaded on to a Pop card at the new ticket vending machines at Metro stations.
Passengers will eventually be able to use their Pop card on a pay-as-you-go basis, and will be able to upload credit on to their card using their home computer, at local shops and at Metro stations.