Lib Dems hit out as funding pulled for Metro contactless ticketing scheme
By Ciaran Morrissey
Sunderland's Lib Dem councillors have reacted with fury as Government funding cuts has meant £100m for contactless ticketing systems - including for the Tyne and Wear Metro - has been axed by Department for Transport.
Money designed to install more London Underground-style pay-as-you-go card readers on platforms across the Tyne and Wear Metro network has been axed.
It means passengers won't be able to use a contactless bank card to tap in and tap out at station barriers to pay for their Metro tickets.
Nexus are already rolling out a system allowing people to use smart tickets on their phone without having to use a ticket machine - but this scheme doesn't allow contactless bank cards to be used in the same way.
That's where planned funding from Transport for the North would have come in - to create a full, open contactless system.
But documents released today have revealed that Transport for the North has had its funding for the next financial year slashed by a fifth, with £100m for contactless ticketing schemes across the North axed by the Government's Department for Transport.
Reacting to the funding being axed, Lib Dem campaigner for Hendon & Grangetown Ciaran Morrissey said:
"London has had contactless pay-as-you-go ticketing on the tube since 2003 yet here we are in 2021 and the Metro still doesn't let you swipe in and out of the barriers paying with your bank card - it beggars belief.
"With the number of contactless payments having massively increased during the pandemic it is clear that ticketless transactions aren't just the future - its how people want to pay for things now. With bus companies accepting contactless, we can't let the Metro be left behind.
"Once again it seems the Government are treating Sunderland and the North East as the poor relation, cutting this vital funding to make things easier for people to use the Metro without the need to buy a paper ticket at the machine.
"Even when the North does get any funding it usually goes to the likes of Manchester or Leeds. Just when we thought Wearside might actually benefit for once the Government cuts the money. It's just not good enough and we'll be working with Lib Dems in Parliament to challenge the Government to think again."