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West Mids transport chiefs ‘in denial’ over not so Swift card, mayoral hopeful claims

West Mids transport chiefs ‘in denial’ over not so Swift card, mayoral hopeful claims

🕔29.Jul 2016

Transport bosses have been accused of being “in denial” over the shortcomings of the West Midlands Swift card which offers cashless travel on buses, trains and trams.

The claim came from Labour metro mayor hopeful Steve Bedser who has criticised Swift for failing to offer truly integrated travel because only direct debit season ticket holders can use the card for local train services.

Mr Bedser was responding to a press release from Transport for West Midlands praising Swift and claiming that the scheme’s popularity is growing by the day.

He has previously described the Swift card as “a pale imitation” of Transport for London’s Oyster card and is promising to put in place a card that can be used for all local bus, rail and tram services, even on a pay as you go daily basis, within 12 months of becoming mayor.

The TfWM press release, backed by the West Midlands Combined Authority, insisted the Swift card was becoming a “top choice for travellers with customers now making more than a million journeys every month”.

The statement continued:

Swift’s popularity has rocketed, with an offer including ticket types that are now accepted on all buses, trains and trams across the region.

Mr Bedser hit back, claiming that Transport for West Midlands was “in denial” over the card’s limitations.

He pointed out that the Swift card can only be used on West Midlands train services by direct debit season ticket holders, and not by anyone buying a day card. This meant that customers with a day Swift card must interrupt their journey while changing from bus or tram to rail to buy a ticket.

He added:

It’s plain to anybody that the Swift card has very limited utility, especially if you want to make flexible use of the train.

Any efforts to say otherwise suggests to me PR advisors who don’t actually use and pay for public transport and an unhelpful culture of denial that I will tackle head on if I become Mayor.

The travelling public deserve better.

A Transport for West Midlands spokesperson said journeys paid for by Swift cards exceeded one million in May and were up to 1.6 million in June.

The trend is that more and more journeys are made using the Oyster-style smart card, introduced in October 2012. It is the largest smartcard scheme in England outside London and a Swift card is used every two seconds in the West Midlands.

Swift’s popularity has rocketed, with an offer including ticket types that are now accepted on all buses, trains and trams across the region.

Cllr Richard Worrall, chair of the WMCA’s transport delivery committee, said:

Swift allows you to buy and manage your travel 24/7 – and add brand new travel products which offer you better value and choice – like the Black Country and Coventry nbus tickets which offer great savings compared to the regional ticket.

No wonder more and more people are taking advantage of it.

Customers can buy Swift cards and top up online, at one of 250 payzone outlets or at one of eight travel centres across the West Midlands. Top-ups are also available using an Android App or one of 100 on-street collectors.

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