The National Transport Authority has now launched the Leap Card. In its initial stages, this ‘smart card’ will enable transport users to pay fares, electronically across all public transport providers in the Greater Dublin Area.
It is the ambition of the Authority to ensure that fares are simplified across all modes and that fares do not penalise those passengers who change services in their journey. In the Authority’s Draft Transport Strategy 2011-2030 Measure INT 3 states:
“The Authority will implement a simplified fares system for the Greater Dublin Area, covering bus, rail, LUAS and Metro services, and will develop a fare arrangement within the Metropolitan Area that facilitates multi-leg and multi-modal journeys”
The mechanisms to achieve the Authority’s strategy include flat fares, fare capping (by time or distance), fare rebates and zonal fares.
The Authority is currently examining the feasibility of introducing single operator daily and weekly capping at an early stage. This would mean that there would be a maximum charge per day or week for the journeys done with one public transport operator. The next phase would be to introduce a cap across all operators for daily and weekly journeys. A fare rebate is where the public transport customer pays a reduced amount for second or multiple journeys within a particular time frame. The feasibility of introducing this fare on a single and multi-operator basis is also being examined.
Zonal fares schemes are most successful where the public transport customer tags on and off to complete their journey such as with Irish Rail and LUAS. However Dublin Bus does not operate a tag off on their smartcards so there is no way of knowing the length of the journey in order to apply a zonal fare. In some cities a flat fare on buses can accompany a zonal fare on other operators.
While the ambition of the Authority is stated above, it is important to note the financially constrained environment in which we are currently operating. Further integrated fares measures must be introduced without resulting in the overall revenue from fares being reduced. The key benefit of the introduction of the Leap Card is that it provides the platform to introduce any of these integrated fare schemes in the future.
The Authority’s considerations are available here: Fares Determinations