Transport firm Go-Ahead is to introduce a multi-operator smart card system across the North East next month.
The Newcastle-headquartered firm has issued a robust half-year trading update with strong performance in its bus and rail operations.
And it said it was “committed to improving the passenger experience”, leading to an announcement of a smart card system in January within the region.
In its pre-close trading update for the six months ending 27 December 2014, David Brown, group chief executive of Go-Ahead, said: “Overall trading in the year to date has been robust, with a solid performance in our bus and rail operations. Our full year expectations for both divisions remain unchanged.
“We remain committed to improving the passenger experience and making it as easy as possible for people to use our services.
“Go-Ahead has the largest smartcard scheme outside of London and, in January 2015, will be introducing a multi-operator smartcard in the north east.
“In October, we announced a joint initiative with the UK’s other major bus operators to deliver multi-operator smart ticketing to millions of bus customers across England.
“In the last five years, we have grown our regional bus network, enabling 15% more journeys to be taken on our services. Over the same period, we have invested more than £170m in our regional bus services and achieved some of the highest levels of customer satisfaction in the industry, including our best ever score of 92% in the latest independent survey.
“Working collaboratively with industry partners and local authorities we always seek to deliver the best value for passengers, taxpayers and shareholders.”
The firm said overall revenue growth in its regional bus business has been good, largely driven by increased contract revenue.
Commercial and concessionary passenger numbers remain broadly flat year on year, a result it said of “continuing weakness in the North East economy”, as well as the impact of significant roadworks in Oxford.
In Tyne and Wear, proposals for a bus contract scheme are being considered by the Quality Contract Scheme (QCS) Board, which will publish its conclusion in May 2015, but Go-Ahead said it continues to believe “that a voluntary partnership agreement is a better outcome for passengers and taxpayers.”