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While no system can be completely resilient in extreme circumstances, adopting the UKRLG's recommendations should help the nation to be better prepared should weather conditions similar to this past winter's be encountered in future.
The strategy follows a consultation which ran for 10 weeks from August this year and sought views on the Government's emerging vision for smart and integrated ticketing across public transport in England. The consultation was well received, with over 120 responses, and there was strong support for the emerging vision although also a strong message that Government needed to set out a clear road map for delivery.
Our research suggests that smart and integrated ticketing could bring overall benefits of over £1 billion per year and could significantly improve the offer to the passenger through reduced queuing times, removal of the need to carry cash and the provision of seamless journeys.
We have incorporated 27 specific government commitments in the strategy. Key commitments include £20 million of funding to be awarded to nine of the largest urban areas in England (outside London) in order to bring smart ticketing to the greatest number of people most quickly; a change to bus operators' grant (BSOG) which is the subject of a separate announcement today and which will reward operators who equip their buses with smart ticketing infrastructure with an 8 per cent increase in grant; consideration of possible legislation if insufficient progress has been made in the rollout of integrated ticketing; and the creation of a dedicated smart and integrated ticketing team within the Department of Transport to co-ordinate delivery of the strategy from a central point.
The strategy includes a timetable for delivery, which though challenging, I believe is achievable. Our immediate goal is to see integrated multi-modal smart ticketing schemes, similar to the Oyster scheme in London but using the ITSO specification, in England's major urban areas by 2015. We expect that urban schemes will provide a base from which further expansion can occur, and anticipate that that there will be some local integrated ITSO smart ticketing schemes in every area
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Longer term, our aim is to see customers possibly being given a choice of ticketing media, potentially including bank cards and mobile phones and improved links between ticketing and information provision to make public transport use an easier and more attractive option to passengers.
The successful delivery of the strategy will depend upon partnership working to ensure that schemes meet the needs of the passengers. In the strategy, the department lays out the roles envisaged for principal stakeholders; ITSO, the local transport authorities, local transport operators, train operating companies and suppliers. We recognise that we cannot deliver the strategy without the support of all these key stakeholders and I look forward to working with them to ensure that we meet our commitments as soon as possible.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): My honourable friend the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration (Phil Woolas) has today made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
The first annual report of the independent Chief Inspector of the UK Border Agency, John Vine, is being laid before Parliament today. The post and role of independent chief inspector was created in the UK Borders Act 2007 and extended in the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 to reflect the wider role of the new agency. The key focus of the chief inspector is the efficiency and effectiveness of the UK Border Agency. The role provides an external, independent and transparent assessment of the agency and helps to provides reassurance to Parliament and the public. I therefore welcome this account of the first year's work of the chief inspector. The annual report sets out the work of the chief inspector in establishing his inspection methodology, inspection plan and staffing since the role commenced in July 2008 and summarises the findings from six early inspections. Copies of the report will be available in the Vote Office.
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