BUS passengers could soon face lower fares and simpler ticketing rules thanks to a project being developed across the north.

At Tuesday’s Cheshire East Council cabinet meeting, Cllr Don Stockton, cabinet member for environment, told members that ‘smart ticketing’ is due to be rolled out on local buses over the next two years.

The project, which is being delivered by Transport for the North (TfN), aims to use smart cards and mobile technology to allow passengers to pay the cheapest rate available on trains and buses.

Cllr Sue Helliwell, Conservative member of Alsager Town Council, told cabinet she was left facing a steep bus fare home from a visit to Leighton Hospital A&E last month because she was unable to get the direct service.

“After receiving treatment from our excellent NHS it was not possible to return home to Alsager by the 317,” she said.

“This meant we needed two different bus operators to get home via Crewe, and it would have cost us over £12 because there were two of us.”

Services between Leighton Hospital and Crewe town centre are run by D&G Bus and Arriva, while First operates the service between Crewe and Alsager.

But Cllr Stockton provided hope that this might not be a problem in future once smart ticketing is rolled out.

“The prospects for a multi-operator ticket in Cheshire East have improved considerably through TfN’s smart ticketing initiative,” he said.

Knutsford Guardian:

“This project aims to have smart card tickets that are acceptable on over 175 different bus companies across the north, including all the main operators in Cheshire East.

“These tickets have now been introduced on Northern trains and are due to be rolled out to local bus services over the next two years.”

Cllr Rachel Bailey, CEC leader, added that she is ‘lobbying hard’ for smart ticketing across the borough as the local authority’s representative on the TfN board.