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Future ticketing glides into Belfast

It will eventually be used for all Translink bus and rail services in Northern Ireland to become the largest integrated multi-modal system in the UK outside London 

Translink's Chris Conway (left) and Owen Griffith of Flowbird at the launch
Translink's Chris Conway (left) and Owen Griffith of Flowbird at the launch

One of the world’s most advanced public transport ticketing systems has been unveiled by Translink at the launch of its new Glider bus rapid transit network in Belfast.


Glider customers will be the first to benefit from Translink’s Future Ticketing System from Flowbird Transport Intelligence, which will roll-out across all Translink bus and rail in Northern Ireland over the next few years to create the UK’s largest integrated multi-modal system outside London.


The system will provide passengers with a range of flexible options to pay for their travel, including cash, smartcard and contactless payment cards, mobile payments and online accounts.


Performance statistics


Flowbird has developed an entirely new back office architecture to manage the Translink ticketing infrastructure. CloudFare will act as the hub for Translink’s Future Ticketing System enabling administrators to monitor and control ticketing devices directly, view route performance statistics in real time, set automatic system alerts, manage passenger accounts and run comprehensive management reports.


“Glider is the new face of travel in Belfast and is part of our ambitious plan to transform local public transport,” said Chris Conway, Translink Group chief executive. “In a first for Northern Ireland, we are pleased to be implementing the first key milestone of our new Future Ticketing System introducing off-board ticketing for Glider.


"The new systems will facilitate faster journeys and offer the same excellent value tickets as Metro with a focus on integration, flexibility and ease of use.”


In support of the Glider launch, Flowbird has installed 114 self-service retail units at halts along the network, supplied 230 platform validators and provided 45 handheld inspection devices. Passengers can buy tickets, top-up their smartcards, collect tickets purchased online and validate journeys before boarding, thereby improving the customer experience by speeding up the entire journey for all Glider customers.

“The current patterns of transport and our dependency on the private car are simply not sustainable"

Flowbird has also established a new permanent facility in Belfast to support Translink’s Future Ticketing System, with engineers on call to provide maintenance support and technical expertise.


Next year will see Translink’s Future Ticketing System introduced on all Translink’s Metro and Ulsterbus services, followed by NI Railways in 2020. Further customer enhancements, including a customer smartcard portal and online top-ups, will be available in 2021.


Major infrastructure investment


The Glider eco-hybrid buses launched in the city at the beginning of the month and represent a £90 million investment by the Department of Infrastructure. David Sterling, head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service said the service is all about “customers and connectivity”.


He added: “The current patterns of transport and our dependency on the private car are simply not sustainable. Working together we can reduce emissions and congestion levels. That’s why we have a very clear commitment in our Outcomes Delivery Plan to increase the percentage of journeys we make by public transport, walking and cycling.”


The buses can carry up to 105 passengers and offer free wi-fi and USB charging facilities.


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