Passengers in the greater Dublin area can now use a single ticket on Dublin Bus, Luas, Dart and commuter rail services, eolas reports.
London’s Oyster card, Hong Kong’s Octopus card and Singapore’s Ez-Link card are examples of integrated ticketing that were examined by transport officials before its implementation in Ireland.
The Leap Card was launched in December following nine years of preparation and a reported total spend of €55.5 million. It will allow travellers to switch between Dublin Bus, Luas, Dart and commuter rail services using one card which can be topped up at Payzone points around the greater Dublin area. The National Transport Authority (NTA) plans to gradually extend it nationwide.
A refundable deposit of €5 for an adult card and €3 for a child card is required. The card can be registered online allowing owners to check their credit and block stolen or lost cards. When using the Luas, Dart and commuter rail, the card must be ‘touched-on’ at the validator on the platform at which point a default fare will be deducted. When the card is ‘touched-off’ at the destination, the appropriate amount will be refunded. When using a bus for over 13 stages, the card must be touched-on at the validator as with the Luas. If travelling less than 13 stages, the passenger must tell the driver the destination, scan the card against the ticket machine and the correct fare will be deducted. Passengers entitled to the Department of Social Protection’s free travel scheme will receive a Leap Card programmed with their details.
NTA Chairman John Fitzgerald estimates that “in time there will be circa 250,000 users of the Leap card annually.” There are currently a combined
190,000 commuters who use single-mode smart cards for Luas, Dublin Bus and Iarnród Éireann. “Integrated ticketing has been a complex project to roll-out,” he admitted. The scheme will be introduced onto Bus Éireann services in the greater Dublin area throughout 2012 and Matthews Coaches has tested the card on its Bettystown-Laytown-Dublin route.
Other Leap Card services to be introduced over next year include annual and monthly passes, Dublin Bus rambler tickets as well as school and student travel cards. Commuters will also be able to choose an automatic top-up option for their Leap Card for whenever their credit is low by providing the operators with a direct debit mandate.
The Leap Card will make using public transport much easier by erasing the need for exact change and long queues at Luas and rail machines and by allowing quicker access onto buses.
Public Transport and Commuter Affairs Minister Alan Kelly described it as a great boost for commuters and “among the cheapest ways to get around Dublin.”
However, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore conceded that “the process lasted far too long and cost far too much.”
The Railway Procurement Agency (which was responsible for the project before the NTA) put the high cost down to the need to build unique systems that were not available off-the-shelf, the complexities of the existing ticketing arrangements, catering for the free travel scheme, establishing a helpdesk and price inflation.
Cash fares increased in January by an average of 15 per cent for Dublin Bus, 6 per cent on Irish Rail and 6.3 per cent across all Luas fares. Leap Card users will see savings of up to 20 per cent in some cases (see table). Pre-paid card holders have been told that those cards will continue to work as normal, alongside the new Leap Card until mid-to-late 2012.
Route / adult
Cash fare (€)
Leap card fare (€)
|Over 13 stages||2.65||2.40||6|
|Dart & commuter rail|
|Zone A (Killiney-Shankill)||1.50||1.25||17|
|Zone E (Balbriggan-Tara St)||4.70||4.00||15|
|Green line (4 zones)||2.90||2.70||19|
|Red line (4 zones)||2.70||2.15||20|
Route / child
|Over 13 stages||1.15||1.05||9|
|Dart & commuter rail|
|Zone A (Killiney-Shankill)||0.95||0.75||21|
|Zone E (Balbriggan-Tara St)||1.95||1.65||15|
|Green line (4 zones)||1.10||1.00||9|
|Red line (4 zones)||1.10||1.00||9|
Sources: NTA CIE & Luas fares report and www.luas.ie