Can any ITSO smartcard be used to purchase any ticket in the UK?

smartcard

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Just a quick question regarding smartcards.

Can any ITSO smartcard be used to buy any ticket? Or do you still need a separate smartcard for every train company and every bus company etc? For a random example lets say could i use my Stagecoach Smart bus smartcard to buy a Single or Return train ticket from a Southern Rail ticket machine? Can any ITSO smartcard be loaded with any ticket or are there restrictions that mean you need to use certain smartcards only?

Thank you for any help regarding this question.
 
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fgwrich

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No and No. You can use any rail smartcard to purchase any available ticket. Not all tickets are available though.
I recommend treating this with caution too, as I've found out. I own one of ScotRails excellent Smartcards - despite both GWR & SWR using the same ITSO technology for their own smart cards, not all of the same tickets are available on the smart cards as they are on their paper equivalent. Not only that, but I've lost money on SWR using the ScotRail smart card when the ticket machine loaded it, but the barriers refused it (I should have hit the paper receipt option at the time to prove it!).
 

mike.duncombe@

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The answer is surprisingly complex. Unfortunately, ITSO's specification has been very inconsistently implemented by the different users of it, so interoperability is in no way guaranteed. The license granted to every Licensed Operator (all TOCS are such) obliges the Licensed operator to accept any valid ticket onto its smartcards, but almost all vendor software ignores this obligation. In practice, there is no such thing as "the same ITSO technology" - each gate vendor and vending machine vendor has equipment and software certified by ITSO, but each will have different derogations from the specification allowed by ITSO. On top of that, there are commercial agreements that may affect the working of the ticketing system.

I could go off on a rant about how inadequate ITSO is for rail, but I will deny myself that pleasure. There are in fact relatively few rail tickets issued by TOCa available on ITSO smart cards. Some areas around cities (Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, etc) and in Scotland where there are multi-operator, muti-modal tickets that may open the gates.

If you have encountered difficulty with gates, I recommend you install one of the apps from Google Play or Apple Appstore that will enable your smartphone to read what's actually on the card, not just what the gate tells you is on the card.
 

Wallsendmag

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The answer is surprisingly complex. Unfortunately, ITSO's specification has been very inconsistently implemented by the different users of it, so interoperability is in no way guaranteed. The license granted to every Licensed Operator (all TOCS are such) obliges the Licensed operator to accept any valid ticket onto its smartcards, but almost all vendor software ignores this obligation. In practice, there is no such thing as "the same ITSO technology" - each gate vendor and vending machine vendor has equipment and software certified by ITSO, but each will have different derogations from the specification allowed by ITSO. On top of that, there are commercial agreements that may affect the working of the ticketing system.

I could go off on a rant about how inadequate ITSO is for rail, but I will deny myself that pleasure. There are in fact relatively few rail tickets issued by TOCa available on ITSO smart cards. Some areas around cities (Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds, etc) and in Scotland where there are multi-operator, muti-modal tickets that may open the gates.

If you have encountered difficulty with gates, I recommend you install one of the apps from Google Play or Apple Appstore that will enable your smartphone to read what's actually on the card, not just what the gate tells you is on the card.
You are aware nearly all TOCs use one central HOPS supplied by RDG and there are only three card providers all working to a common standard?
 

yorkie

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... I've lost money on SWR using the ScotRail smart card when the ticket machine loaded it, but the barriers refused it (I should have hit the paper receipt option at the time to prove it!).
How did you lose money? Did a TOC refuse to honour the contract? How was the matter resolved? If it's complex it may be best to create a new thread.
 
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fgwrich

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How did you lose money? Did a TOC refuse to honour the contract? How was the matter resolved? If it's complex it may be best to create a new thread.
It wasn't much to be honest (£5 or something like that) and I never really took it up with SWR (although I meant to), I just purchased the ticket and loaded it to the smart card, then it refused to work on the barriers. I was in a rush at the time and knew I wasn't likely to get anywhere with the contracted staff on the gate (SWR contract staff are I'm afraid to say, at best, useless) so I just ran back to the ticket machine and purchased another ticket.
 

adamskiodp

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If you have encountered difficulty with gates, I recommend you install one of the apps from Google Play or Apple Appstore that will enable your smartphone to read what's actually on the card, not just what the gate tells you is on the card.
A search on the IOS App Store of “Itso smartcard reader” shows no Results. Any recommendations?
 

Starmill

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In theory, yes. In practice, no. ScotRail's cards seem to be rejected if you try to load any of the the recently added Smarcard products (Northern, West Midlands Trains etc), for example. Northern's ticket machines refused to load any ticket I tried onto a Get Me There card too, but as I don't have a Northern card, I don't know if the machine and products were both enabled correctly.

In theory a product can be restricted to a photocard only (ScotRail's is one though), but a card can't restrict a product. Unscrupulous operators such as Mersrail refused to allow people to use their own ITSO cards so that they could make people pay £1 for theirs (and refused to allow the ticket sale otherwise).
 

Starmill

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A search on the IOS App Store of “Itso smartcard reader” shows no Results. Any recommendations?
I've used the old Rambus app, however I think it's now changed its name? ScotRail's app also reads many cards if they've a national rail product loaded.
 

Wallsendmag

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In theory, yes. In practice, no. ScotRail's cards seem to be rejected if you try to load any of the the recently added Smarcard products (Northern, West Midlands Trains etc), for example. Northern's ticket machines refused to load any ticket I tried onto a Get Me There card too, but as I don't have a Northern card, I don't know if the machine and products were both enabled correctly.

In theory a product can be restricted to a photocard only (ScotRail's is one though), but a card can't restrict a product. Unscrupulous operators such as Mersrail refused to allow people to use their own ITSO cards so that they could make people pay £1 for theirs (and refused to allow the ticket sale otherwise).
You can load a season onto a ScotRail smartcard at Edinburgh Travel Centre
 

trebor79

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All of this complexity and faff is why I stick with pieces of orange cardboard. Easier to send in with my expenses claims too.
 

mikeg

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That's because Apple have locked down the NFC functionality on the iPhone to be only used for Apple stuff it's incredibly restricted, or at least always was.
 

HBP

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A search on the IOS App Store of “Itso smartcard reader” shows no Results. Any recommendations?
Search ‘Smart ticket checker’ App IOS developed by Ecebs

I use it to read my Northern Season, Metro bus card and Pop card for the Newcastle Metro.
 

HBP

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Running on what? Surely an iPhone can't read an ITSO card? Can't even use the government's EU Settled Status app or Google Pay on them!
I think things have changed in the last couple of months or so. I now renew my Northern weekly season when I need it via the Northern App and load it to the ITSO card by tapping it against the back of my iPhone.
 

Haywain

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The iPhone Smart Ticket Checker app can be downloaded from the App Store and I can confirm that, having done so this morning, it can read all of my current collection of ITSO smartcards.
 

TrainAndBike

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I was wondering if I could use a card either a TFW or GWR to make a journey to Bristol from Radyr. Radyr to Cardiff would be a TFW train Cardiff to Bristol is GWR. Even more complex the bus transfer to the airport. Hopefully it will be sorted out by the time I would want to do it.
 

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