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Southeastern’s ‘not so smart’ card

5 December 2016 

Campaigners have criticised the launch of a so-called smart card for Southeastern rail commuters today as a waste of money.

Campaign for Better Transport argues that the Key, the new paperless ticket from Southeastern which will replace paper season tickets, is simply a plastic version of the existing paper ticket and provides no real benefits for commuters.

Lianna Etkind, public transport campaigner at Campaign for Better Transport, said: “This is a real missed opportunity for Southeastern commuters. They were promised a smart card and all they are getting is a plastic version of the paper ticket they already have. This is a total waste of money a far as most passengers are concerned. We would have hoped Southeastern would’ve taken this opportunity to use the new smart to card to introduce things like automatic refunds for delays or cancellations and season tickets for part-time workers, but unfortunately for passengers this is not the case.”

Jo Rossi, who uses Southeastern to commute from Ashford to London, said: “I would love to work part-time so I can spend more time with my daughter but this is impossible as travelling into London for more than two days requires a full -time season ticket, which is not financially viable. Like myself, many people work for employers who are open to flexible working, so it is high time we see a season ticket that allows people to have the work life balance they really want.”   

There are a number of things that Campaign for Better Transport would have liked to have seen as part of the new smart card scheme including:

  • Automatic refunds for delays and cancellations as is already offered by train company c2c's smartcard scheme and TfL's Oyster scheme
  • The ability to link up with Oyster or buses to allow for door to door journeys
  • Price capping
  • Give passengers the option of pay-as-you-go travel without having to pre-load a ticket onto the card
  • Season tickets for part-time workers which provide equal discounts for people who work less than five days a week.

Lianna added: “The Chancellor recently announced £80 million to accelerate the nationwide roll out of smart ticketing. The technology to provide passenger benefits like price capping is already in operation in other smartcard schemes like Oyster. We need the Government to ensure that any further smart cards do offer passengers the proper benefits they deserve.”


For further information please contact Alice Ridley on 020 7566 6495 / 07984 773 468 or alice.ridley@bettertransport.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. For more information on Southeastern’s ‘Key’ see here.
  2. Philip Hammond MP announced in the Autumn Statement on November 23 that £80 million was being committed to developing a nationwide smart card for rail passengers.
  3. Campaign for Better Transport is the UK's leading authority on sustainable transport. We champion transport solutions that improve people's lives and reduce environmental damage. Our campaigns push innovative, practical policies at local and national levels. Campaign for Better Transport Charitable Trust is a registered charity (1101929).