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Transport / Council to trial card payments on ferries

The council ferry Leirna heading to Bressay. Photo: Shetland News

CARD machines are set to be trialled on council ferries after similar equipment proved a success on Shetland’s buses.

Although the idea has been mooted for some time, the issue was raised again at a meeting of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee this week.

It was confirmed that card payments are to be trialled on ferries on certain routes in the coming weeks and months.

Last year smart ticketing machines were installed on Shetland’s bus fleet to allow passengers to pay with cards as well as contactless, with feedback proving to be positive.

Ferries were the main point of consternation of a cashless advocate who visited Shetland earlier this year as part of an experiment to live without using physical money.

Chairman of the council’s environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson said ferries were a natural evolution from buses when it came to paying by card.

At the moment passengers on council ferries have to pay by cash or cheque.

While spaces on the ferry can be booked online, there is no option at the moment to pre-pay via the council website.

“In the early part of 2019, ZetTrans managed to secure funding to install smart ticketing machines on all our busses, which enabled travellers to pay with credit, debit and contactless payment methods,” Thomson explained.

“I stated at the time, and it remains the case that we need to see similar technology rolled out onto our internal ferry network.

“I’m happy to see a trial on some ferry services happening over the next few weeks and months, and have requested an update at the next environment and transport committee meeting in November.

“I’m happy to say the SIC are making inroads into resolving what has been a longstanding issue for those who use our ferries.”