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Transport / Card and contactless payments to be introduced on ferries

Council ferries are currently cash-only, but moves are being made to bring card and contactless payments on board.

PEOPLE should be able to use bank cards and contactless payments on Shetland’s inter-island ferries within the next few weeks.

It comes as the ferries return to their usual timetables today (Monday) as lockdown restrictions relax.

A system to allow card and contactless payments on the ferries was meant to be in place by now, but the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed their introduction.

Ferry trips had previously been paid by cash on board, although during the pandemic an account system was put in place amid concerns over the hygiene of cash handling.

It also went to bookings only when a reduced timetable was put in place.

Chairman of Shetland Islands Council’s environment and transport committee Ryan Thomson said however that the smart ticketing aspect – a concept like London’s Oyster card – will not be ready for the foreseeable future.

“We’re hoping for card and contactless payment equipment to be rolled out in the next couple/few weeks, but the ‘smart ticketing’ aspect won’t be ready for a while,” he said.

“It’s still account payment only and bookings only in line with the Scottish Government route map. However as that eases, and in line with that, we will open up ferry travel once again to all, and go back to the way it was.”

Thomson, who represents the North Isles, added that he will be “pushing for account cards to be retained for islanders and those working on our remote isles at the discounted rate if possible”.

Card and contactless payments can already be made on Shetland’s buses.

Scottish Parliament election, 6 May 2021