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'DON'T LET FUNDING HOLD BACK SMARTCARD ADOPTION'

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A recent poll reveals that 31% of public transport executives say that funding is the biggest barrier to adopting s...
A recent poll reveals that 31% of public transport executives say that funding is the biggest barrier to adopting smart cards in public transport. Other issues holding it back include a lack of inter-agency co-operation (25%), a lack of government sponsorship (19%), a lack of IT standards (16%) and outdated IT systems (3%). Only 6% say that a lack of public demand is holding it back.

The poll was conducted at a recent conference to promote the use of smartcards in public transport by ITNET. Smart cards, which are credit-card sized plastic cards with an embedded computer chip, are opined to be the UK's next major public transport initiative as well as a key enabler in the delivery of improved citizen services.

Barriers to adoption are causing confusion as to when executives believe that public transport smart cards will be 'widely available across the UK network'. 22% say 2005 (28% - 2006, 19% - 2007, 16% - 2008, 3% - 2009) and 13% say it won't be until 2010.

Adrian Hobday, director of transport services at ITNET, comments:

'While cost and government sponsorship are quoted as hurdles to adopting smartcards in public transport, they needn't be showstoppers. Rather than relying on government funding, authorities could benefit from a more commercial approach to raising funds. For example by working with IT companies, like ITNET, that are willing to share their risk and make an upfront financial investment in the smartcard infrastructure, organisations can start to reap the very real benefits sooner rather than later.'

Public transport executives give a very clear 'thumbs up' to smart cards - citing a number of major benefits that they would bring to their industry. 29% believe they will help to reduce delays and 26% feel they will create customer loyalty. 23% say they'll reduce operating costs and a further 23% think smart cards will help combat fraud.

This is surprising as 63% are of the opinion that the average citizen knows neither what a smart card is, nor its benefits. 35% think that whilst the average citizen might know what a smart card is - they don't understand its benefits. Only 3% feel confident that citizens know both what a smart card is and fully understand its benefits.

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