What is Pop Pay As You Go?
Pop Pay As You Go (PAYG) is the smart way to pay for public transport in North East England.
Simply top up your Pop PAYG card and use it to pay for your journeys as you make them.
Watch our Pop PAYG How to guides here.
Where can I get a Pop PAYG card?
Get your Pop PAYG card online. The Pop PAYG card itself is free, but you must buy it with a £10 balance.
Where can I use my Pop PAYG card?
You can use Pop PAYG on Metro, on almost all buses in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, County Durham and the Tees Valley, and on the Shields Ferry.
Pop PAYG works differently on Metro, bus and ferry. See below for more details.
- On Metro - pay for your trip by touching in at the Metro station validator or gate at the start of your journey and touching out at the end. You’ll only pay for the journey you have made and we’ll calculate the best fare for you.
- On buses - pay for single, return and day tickets from the driver using your Pop PAYG balance.
- On the Shields Ferry - single and day tickets are cheaper if you buy them from the ferry operator using your Pop PAYG balance.
How do I top up my Pop PAYG card?
Top up online here and load your purchase onto your card at a Metro station validator, gate or ticket machine. You can also load your purchase onto your card on these bus services: Stanley Travel's 40, 40A, 40B; Local Link services in Redcar and Cleveland. Or top up at Metro station ticket machines.
Find out more here.
Is there anything I should do before I use my Pop PAYG card?
If you got your Pop PAYG card online, you don't need to do anything.
If you were given a pop card by a member of staff, register it here.
Registering your card allows you to top up your Pop PAYG card online and load your purchase onto it at Metro stations.
It also means that it is protected - if it’s lost or stolen, you can report it to us and we can block the card so that nobody else can use it. We can then transfer any remaining balance back into your online account ready for you to load onto a new Pop blue card.
If you don’t register your Pop blue card and it’s lost or stolen you will lose your balance.
How do I check my Pop PAYG balance?
You can check your balance quickly and easily:
- online here (it can take up to 48 hours for this to be up to date)
- by using the Pop card checker app (visit Google Play and search for Pop card checker)
- at any Metro station ticket machine
- on your bus or ferry ticket when you use Pop PAYG on bus or the Shields Ferry
- on the Metro station gate or validator every time you touch out.
What if my Pop PAYG card has a negative balance?
On buses and the Shields Ferry, you can continue to travel until your balance is –£3.50.
On Metro, you can’t start a journey if your Pop PAYG card has a negative balance (ie less than zero), so you need to top up your Pop PAYG card balance or find another way to pay for your journey.
If your card is in credit when you touch in at a Metro station, we’ll give you one last trip to make sure you can get to where you need to be, even if making another journey will take your card into a negative balance. Your card then can’t be used again until you top it up.
What if I realise that Pop PAYG isn't for me?
If you change your mind about using a Pop PAYG card, and have registered your card at popcard.org.uk, you can apply for a refund via Customer Relations.
If you’ve got any queries:
- check the help pages and FAQs at nexus.org.uk/pop
- watch the how to guides at nexus.org.uk/pop/payg/howtoguides
- ask staff at Metro stations or the bus driver or ferry operator
- get in touch via nexus.org.uk/contactus
- call 0191 20 20 747
Using Pop PAYG on Metro
How does Pop PAYG work on Metro?
On Metro you need to touch in at the start of your journey and touch out at the end. You do this by touching your Pop PAYG card onto the reader on the yellow Metro station validator or the orange card reader on the Metro station gates – even if they’re open.
If you don't do this, you won't have a validated smartcard and you could be issued with a Penalty Fare Notice.
When you touch in at the start of your journey, we deduct up to the cost of an all zone single Pop PAYG fare from your Pop PAYG balance. When you touch out at the end of your journey, we calculate the cheapest fare for that journey and then adjust your balance.
Please note that, unlike on buses and the Shields Ferry, you can't use your Pop PAYG card to buy tickets from Metro station ticket machines.
How much does it cost?
Pop PAYG is cheaper than adult single and DaySaver tickets.
You can travel as many times as you like in a day. Your card is charged each time you travel until you reach the daily price cap for the number of zones you’ve travelled in. You’ll never pay more than the daily price cap for the number of zones you’ve travelled in that day as long as you touch in and out.
Please note that if you’re using your Pop PAYG card more than 3 or 4 days a week, it might be cheaper to buy a Metro Season Ticket. See nexus.org.uk/metro for more information and current Pop PAYG fares.
What happens if I can't touch in or out?
If you can't touch in or out, your journey will be incomplete and you may be charged a maxium fare.
You should make your journey as planned, and touch in or out where you can.
You should then log into your online account and follow the instructions to 'close your journey'.
What happens if I forget to touch in or out?
If you don’t touch in or out, your journey will be incomplete and you may be charged a maximum fare.
Because we don’t know where you either started or ended your journey, we are unable to calculate the cheapest fare, so we deduct a maximum fare of up to the cost of an all zone single Pop PAYG fare from your balance for that journey.
If you forget to touch in or out, log into your online account and follow the instructions to ‘close your journey’. You can only ask us to close your journey once a calendar month, so remember to touch in and out.
Using Pop PAYG on buses
How does Pop PAYG work on buses?
On buses, you use the balance on your Pop PAYG card to buy your normal single, return or day ticket from the driver.
Simply tell the bus driver which ticket you want to buy, then touch your Pop PAYG card on to the reader on the ticket machine. Take your ticket from the machine as normal. The cost of the ticket will be deducted from your Pop PAYG balance. Your new balance will be printed on your ticket.
Please note that, unlike on Metro, there is no daily price cap for journeys on buses.
Which buses can I use Pop PAYG on?
You can use Pop PAYG on selected bus services with more services being added regularly - check nexus.org.uk/pop/payg/buses for the most up to date list.
Using Pop PAYG on the Shields Ferry
How does PAYG work on the ferry?
Just tell the ferry operator which ticket you want to buy, and then touch your Pop PAYG card on to the reader on the ticket machine. Take your ticket from the machine as normal. The cost of the ticket will be deducted from your Pop PAYG balance. Your new balance will be printed on your ticket.
If you're travelling on Metro after your journey on the ferry, you can buy a Metro DaySaver using your Pop PAYG balance on board the ferry. If you're travelling on Metro before you travel on the ferry though, buy your Metro DaySaver from a Metro station ticket machine (ie don't use your Pop PAYG card).
Please note that, unlike on Metro, there is no daily price cap for journeys on the Shields Ferry.
How much does it cost?
Ferry single and day tickets are cheaper when you buy them using the balance on your Pop PAYG card. See current Ferry Pop PAYG fares here.
The North East Smart Ticketing Initiative
The NESTI programme is funded and/or supported by the 12 Local Authorities in the North East, NECA, Nexus and the major public transport operators in the Region.
Why aren’t bus journeys included in my Metro daily price cap?
As the owners of the Metro, Nexus, with the authorisation of the North East Combined Authority, sets fares on Metro, but not on buses operated by commercial companies. As such, Nexus can implement a capped daily fare for Pop PAYG on Metro. Through the North East Smart Ticketing Initiative programme, Bus Operators and Nexus (as the owner of the Metro and Ferry) jointly agreed the terms for implementing Pop PAYG in the North East of England. Those terms did not include an agreed fare structure across the North East for Pop PAYG journeys. Therefore it is not possible, at this time, to provide a daily capped fare that includes travel on bus services.
Why can’t I use Pop PAYG to buy tickets (eg transfares) from Metro station ticket machines?
Pop PAYG on Metro is a travel product and it works as a true PAYG product with the cost of journeys being subtracted from the card balance as they are made. As such, when you are purchasing Pop PAYG from Metro (e.g. at a Metro station ticket machine) then you are buying the right to travel and the balance on your Pop PAYG card is increased by the top up amount you purchase. The Metro station ticket machines accept cash, contactless payments and credit/debit card payments (including Apple Pay/Google Pay) as forms of payment, but not Pop PAYG.
Pop PAYG on buses (and the Shields Ferry) functions as a payment method for a single, day, return or transfare ticket, as an alternative to cash. Therefore you can buy a transfare ticket on a bus using Pop PAYG.