Transport leaders have given their seal of approval to the name for Greater Manchester’s much anticipated new smart ticketing system, which is due to be introduced in stages starting in 2014.
The name for the new scheme – get me there – has been chosen to reflect how smart ticketing will make journeys by public transport easier and more flexible, whether by tram, by bus, by train – or any combination of the three.
Chair of the Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, Councillor Andrew Fender, said: “get me there is one of the most exciting developments in public transport in Greater Manchester in many years.
“It will revolutionise the way that people pay for their transport needs, and will help to remove many of the barriers that get in the way of people making best use of our buses, trains and trams.
“With more than 30 independent, commercial bus operators, a tram network and several inter-regional rail operators running public transport services across and into the region, our smart ticketing scheme will be one of the most advanced of its type in the world.
“But we want it to be as simple as possible for people at the point of use – hence a name that says ‘what it does on the tin’.
“London may have its Oyster and Liverpool its Walrus, but we like to embrace the challenge of doing things differently here, which is why we have chosen a different kind of name with get me there."
Cllr Fender added: “We knew that people would expect our scheme to be like Oyster, but both life and technology have moved on since its introduction.
“People will have a variety of ways to use get me there and that’s why our focus is about what the system can do for you, rather than the name of a single card.
“Yes, there will be a dedicated card – called my get me there – for the scheme, but people with an existing TfGM-issued concessionary photo card, such as an igo or a national concessionary scheme card, will be able to use these cards instead.
“get me there will also accept contactless bank cards when we roll out the scheme on Metrolink and, in the near future, we expect that people will be able to use their smart phones as well.
“The technology behind get me there is being built to be as flexible as possible to accommodate any future devices – even the ones we don’t know about yet.”
Passengers will be able to use the scheme by touching their get me there-enabled device – be it a card or, in the future, a phone – on to an electronic validator, which will then check if they have a valid travel card or enough ‘pay as you go’ credit in their account to travel.
The installation of get me there validators on Metrolink stops is due to start later this year, one of the first visible signs that smart ticketing is on its way.
“We’re introducing get me there on Metrolink first to make sure we get all the basics working right before extending it to bus operators,” explains Cllr Fender.
“We are still working out detail around the timescales but Metrolink passengers can expect to be using get me there in the second half of 2014, bus passengers in 2015 and rail thereafter.”
With eight out of every ten public transport journeys in Greater Manchester made by bus, all efforts are being made to make sure that get me there will be available on bus services as soon as possible after Metrolink.
Richard Soper is First Group’s Strategic Development Director for the North of England and chair of GMTL, the partnership organisation representing all the bus and train companies operating in the region. He sees the introduction of get me there as the next big step in making travelling with different operators easier for the public.
He said: “We have all learned a great deal from System One, the range of paper tickets we currently promote that allow passengers to switch between different modes of travel and different operators. We have therefore been working very closely with TfGM on the details of the new scheme and also on the scheme name.
“We wanted something that helps customers understand what the scheme does and how they will be able to use it and get me there does just that. It will give everyone greater choice and greater flexibility in their travel options, as well as making it easier to purchase and use multimodal tickets.”
Chris Bowles is Managing Director of Stagecoach Manchester and Chair of OneBus, the association of Greater Manchester bus operating companies. He believes that the flexibility of get me there will help to maximise the uptake of smart ticketing across the region and help to increase the appeal of public transport.
He said: “If you include all the existing concessionary card holders there are over half a million smart-enabled cards already out there in Greater Manchester. Once the scheme goes live, concession holders will be able to register with get me there to enhance the benefits of their existing card.”
Cllr Fender expects the decision on the name of the scheme to be the first step in communicating to the public how smart ticketing is going to work, adding: “We know that there is a lot of interest and expectation regarding smart ticketing so now that we have a name we can start to communicate how it will work and when people will be able to use it across the various different modes of transport.
“Agreeing the name is a crucial part of that and we will now be working to get a new information website up and running in the next couple of months so that people can keep up to date with our progress.
“We will also be letting people register their interest in the scheme now, either online at www.getmethere.com or through TfGM Travelshops, so that as soon as get me there becomes available on Metrolink in 2014, we can contact them directly with information on how to sign up.”