Passengers will soon be getting to grips with new automatic ticket machines on the Metro.
Nexus, which owns, manages and is modernising Metro, has installed automatic ticket gates and smartcard validators across the Metro system.
This is believed to be the largest scale implementation of a smartcard system using gatelines in the UK outside of London,
The Metro ticket gates are being switched on in phases to give customers time to get used to them.
From the start of Metro services on Monday, all passengers holding a valid Pop card or smart Gold Card will be asked to ‘touch in’ and ‘touch out’ each time they enter or exit the Metro system, using the yellow validators or the orange card readers on the new ticket gates.
Around 60,000 regular Metro customers already have a ‘smart’ season ticket loaded onto a Pop card, existing smart bus passes and university ID cards.
Gold Card customers still holding paper tickets are being encouraged to visit Nexus Travel Shops at Haymarket, Monument and Gateshead to have their existing free bus pass instantly upgraded to work on the Metro system too.
Director General of Nexus, Bernard Garner, said: “The new ticket gates will transform the way that customers access the Metro system. This is a significant moment in our £385m Metro modernisation programme.
“The gates are being switched on in phases so that passengers have plenty of time to get used to them. Passengers don’t need to worry about these changes as staff will be on hand to offer assistance.
“I’m confident that Metro users will quickly get used to the gates and won’t have any trouble using them.
“The gates will allow us to clampdown on fare evasion and will mean that more stations are staffed, which improves security and customer service.”
Wayne Dixon, head of station delivery at DB Regio Tyne and Wear, which operates the Metro on behalf of Nexus, said: “We’ve employed 30% more staff, so we’re ready to help passengers when the gates are switched on.
“Our customers will quickly get used to the new system and staff will be on hand at stations to help them.
“Having the gates at the busiest station also means our customer service advisers will be able to spend more time at our quieter, outlying stations, improving customer service there, reducing fare evasion and making Metro even safer. There will be benefits across the network.”
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 . Information leaflets are also available from all Nexus TravelShops.