AN ALTERNATIVE to paper tickets for rail commuters will be trialled between Brighton and Seaford in the form of a reusable smart card next month.
The Southern Railway device, called ‘the key’, will be rolled out elsewhere if successful.
The south east has been chosen because of its demographics, a spokesperson for Southern said.
When the trial starts in September commuters will be able to use the card for season, single and return tickets.
Southern’s development director, Alex Foulds, said the limited trial was ‘just the start’ for the card.
He added, “The key smart card will evolve over time with many possibilities for the future.
“In time we will be able to tailor ticket products such as early-bird season tickets for those who travel earlier than the morning rush hour. There will also be opportunities for integrated travel tickets such as rail-bus tickets.”
He added a carnet-style season ticket for less frequent travellers might be introduced, where commuters buy a set number of single tickets over a season, which they can use when they want to.
A spokesperson for Southern said the south east had been chosen partly because of it’s infrastructure, adding, “In some cases you have gates, ticket offices with self-service machines and some without.
“There is a good demographic with elderly, children and students so it gives us a lot of learning.”
They added that they would be working alongside its sister company Brighton and Hove Buses to look at developing a joint product where a card can be used for both bus and rail travel.
The trial, which is expected to last for three months, will involve 100 commuters and take place at Brighton, London Road, Moulsecoomb, Falmer, Lewes, Southease, Newhaven Town, Newhaven Harbour and Bishopstone and Seaford stations.
Seaford MP and Transport Minister Norman Baker added, “I very much welcome the introduction of this new smart card initiative for passengers between Brighton and Seaford.
“It will make travel simpler and more attractive, cut carbon and encourage more people out of their cars and onto trains. Smart ticketing can lead to more efficient, seamless journeys for passengers.
“I want to see this being rolled out to all modes of public transport in England as quickly as possible and this announcement from Southern is another positive step towards that.”