New ticket gates at Metro stations across Tyneside have sparked mixed reactions among commuters.
The new gates require all passengers holding a valid Pop card or smart Gold Card to touch in and out each time they enter or exit the Metro.
The cards are used with the new yellow validators or the orange card readers on the new ticket gates.
Metro staff have been on hand at Central Station to assist passengers in using the new ticket gates.
Commuters are split between those in favour of the new scheme and some angry at the disruption it will cause.
Alex Pettican, who travels into Newcastle city centre every day on the Metro, says the new system could easily disrupt her working day.
The 32-year-old, from Palmersville, said: “It’s been fine this morning because there’s plenty of staff helping and they’re letting you off for not having the right pass.
“But I have a Network One annual paper pass and I’m pretty sure that won’t work on the new smartcard system.
“That being said, I think it’s a good idea to tackle fare dodgers and if it works in Liverpool and London I’m sure Newcastle can cope.”
But 29-year-old Abigail Moffatt from Heaton is worried that the stations could become congested, especially when Newcastle United play at home.
“I imagine the staff at each gate will become overstretched, causing a bottleneck,” she said. “I think they’ll struggle on a match day when there’s nowhere else to go except into the back of people.”
The gates are at Airport, Central, Gateshead, Haymarket, Heworth, Jesmond, Manors, Monument, North Shields, South Shields and St James, with Chichester and Byker set to be added before all 13 stations have the gates turned on permanently in spring 2014.
Nexus, which owns, manages and is modernising Metro, say the gates are to help clamp down on fare evasion.
According to Nexus, the Metro system loses £1m in revenue a year as a result of fare dodging.
A Nexus spokesman said: “There is no urban transit system in the world that can fully prevent ticketless travel, but clearly the gates are going to make it more difficult for people who want to try and travel on the system without paying for it. The gates will encourage more people to use the system honestly.”
When the stations get too busy during a Newcastle United home game, the gates will be switched off to allow for the high number of passengers.
A Nexus spokesman said: “At least 90% of Metro users will have a ticket that works at gates by the end of the year, but whenever a gateline is in use there will be staff to help and advise customers through the move to smart travel.
“Most Network One tickets, including annual passes are being updated to a format that will open gates as customers renew.
“While Network One is a separate company owned by all transport operators Nexus has worked closely with it to ensure a smooth transition.”
A future launch in 2014 will see a new pay-as-you-go credit option introduced, allowing customers to hold a cash balance on a Pop card for travel when and where they want.
Special video guides on how to use Metro’s new automatic ticket gates are available to watch on the Nexus website, www.nexus.org.uk .