Are new Go cards as smart as it’s claimed?

MER tram No20 on the viaduct at Laxey

MER tram No20 on the viaduct at Laxey

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Public transport bosses have rejected claims that the new Go travel cards are not as smart as they claim.

Freelance writer Sara Goodwins, co-founder of Loaghtan Books, claims the new system isn’t working as it should – and for a pensioner to make use of it in the most cost effective way they would need three different Go cards.

Meanwhile a glitch on the Go website which meant it was not accepting Visa payments has now been resolved by the suppliers. Isle of Man Transport has apologised to all customers who were inconvenienced.

Ms Goodwins argues the new Go cards are deterring pensioners in particular from using the heritage railways and the system needs to be made simpler and fairer.

She said: ‘Simple. Quick. Effective. That’s what the new Go cards should be. Unfortunately they don’t seem to be working at all.

‘For some pensioners, particularly in Maughold, the heritage rail services are not overwhelmingly a leisure activity. Has Kate Beecroft MHK, member responsible for public transport, caught a Maughold bus recently?

‘It does two round trips to Ramsey on the morning and afternoon of Tuesday and Friday. Shopping for food becomes a matter of careful planning. During the summer the MER runs every day. Shopping for food becomes less of a worry.’

Ms Goodwins said catching the school bus one way and the service bus the other used to be an option on the Maughold route until half-fare travel for pensioners was brought in on bus services during peak hours.

Citing the hypothetical Maughold pensioner, she said: ‘To make the most cost effective use of the new system, he needs three different Go cards. Firstly the Go Silver card, which is free and replaces the 60+ card, for bus journeys in the middle of the day.

‘Then there’s the Go Platinum Rail which can be used on the MER during the summer months only. Finally there’s the Go Places card which replaces the Manx Rider 12-journey tickets.

‘He’d better get a new travel wallet to carry his pack of travel cards.’

Public transport director Ian Longworth said Ms Goodwins’ Maughold pensioner regularly shopping by tram does not exist according to ticket machine records and such journeys are rarely taken.

He said: ‘The first Go cards being introduced are an exact replacement in smart card form for our current range of tickets.

‘We have made the decision to phase in Go cards over a long period to ensure each is fully tested and has a chance to bed in before introducing additional cards – such as the Go Easy 28 day and annual bus cards.

‘In response to the comment that pensioners need three cards – this is true and is the same as currently. Ultimately, the plan is to enable the Go Silver card that will replace the 60+ pass to be loaded with all required products.’

Mr Longworth said the cards are aimed at reducing costs and the substantial subsidy required from government.

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