Southeastern’s new smart card for train passengers is a ‘total waste of money’ according to transport campaigners.
The new paperless ticket known as The Key, has been hailed by the rail operator as ‘easier, quicker, sturdier and more secure’, with passengers able to buy fares online or through self-service machine on the card.
However the Campaign for Better Transport has argued that the new card is simply a plastic version of the existing paper ticket and provides no real benefits for commuters.
Lianna Etkind, public transport campaigner at the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This is a real missed opportunity for Southeastern commuters. They were promised a smart card and all they are getting is a plastic version of the paper ticket they already have.
“This is a total waste of money as far as most passengers are concerned. We would have hoped Southeastern would’ve taken this opportunity to use the new smart to card to introduce things like automatic refunds for delays or cancellations and season tickets for part-time workers, but unfortunately for passengers this is not the case.”
A spokesman for Southeastern responded: “We have been tasked by the government with introducing the first phase of smart card ticketing to our passengers. Bringing in this technology across the entire network is a big logistical job and we are pleased to say that we have now done this.
“While the card has the capacity for future changes, this is something that would need to be specified by the Department for Transport, but passengers can benefit from the new card now as it makes it easier and quicker to travel.
“With the new card you can buy your weekly, monthly or annual season ticket online and then pick it up by tapping on the reader at your gateline, meaning you don’t have to queue.
“It is also much more durable than a paper ticket because it is a plastic card that is less likely to break from wear and tear and if it is lost or stolen we can cancel it as soon as we’re are told and send out another one very quickly.”
There are a number of things that Campaign for Better Transport would have liked to have seen as part of the new smart card scheme including:
• Automatic refunds for delays and cancellations as is already offered by train company c2c’s smartcard scheme and TfL’s Oyster scheme
• The ability to link up with Oyster or buses to allow for door to door journeys
• Price capping
• Give passengers the option of pay-as-you-go travel without having to pre-load a ticket on to the card
• Season tickets for part-time workers which provide equal discounts for people who work less than five days a week.
Ms Etkind added: “The Chancellor recently announced £80 million to accelerate the nationwide roll out of smart ticketing. The technology to provide passenger benefits like price capping is already in operation in other smartcard schemes like Oyster. We need the Government to ensure that any further smart cards do offer passengers the proper benefits they deserve.”
For more information visit www.southeasternrailway.co.uk/thekey
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