The Department of Transport has unveiled smart card bus passes for elderly and disabled people.
The passes will incorporate ITSO smartcard technology to boost the roll out of smart ticketing across the country. The government hopes the use of smartcards in this case will help minimise fraud and ensure that local authorities are accurately reimbursed for the number of journeys made. In areas where buses are not yet fitted with smartcard readers the tickets will be shown in the normal way.
In the future the cards could also be used for access to leisure and library facilities.
Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly said, "By introducing smartcard technology from the outset we are paving the way for full smart ticketing across the country. This would speed up boarding, cut fraud and open up the possibility of using the same pass to access a range of other local services such as libraries and leisure facilities."
Alan Burnett, senior policy officer at Help the Aged, said, "Smartcard ticketing offers the prospect of greater convenience for passengers and lower administration costs for local authorities, operators and ultimately the taxpayer."
The pass will be available from 1 April, 2008. Currently, people over 60 and disabled people are entitled to free off-peak bus travel within their own area, but from April, they will be able to travel anywhere in England for free.