Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has selected Atos as its IT services provider to manage a new smart ticketing system, which will eventually see passengers use e-tickets and contactless bank cards to pay for travel on buses, trains and trams across the city.

Atos will design, build and manage the hosted service to run the scheme for seven years, as well as deploy and manage an estate of ticket sales and validation devices provided by a number of different suppliers.

The first stage will cover Manchester’s Metrolink network, park and ride sites, with the option for buses and rail to be targeted in subsequent stages. Passengers will be using the new smartcard systems within two years.

Atos has said that the scheme will be fully ITSO compliant and will support contactless Europay, Mastercard and Visa payments.

“What we are planning is a system that has the passenger’s needs at its heart: ease of use, value for money, flexibility for any journey, and simplicity,” said David Hytch, TfGM’s IS Director.

“Following a thorough, robust and comprehensive procurement process, we have appointed Atos who will provide the technical expertise to support us and our partners to ensure the right technology, systems and processes are in place to manage the roll-out of the scheme.”

He added: “Passenger and operator input will be a key part of ensuring that the scheme is very relevant to Greater Manchester: its people and its visitors.”

TfGM’s move reflects a wider trend in the UK where cities and transport companies are looking to adopt smarter payment technologies. For example, the UK’s secretary of state for transport, Justine Grening, laid out plans earlier this year to roll out smart cards across the UK’s railways in a bid to help deliver £3.5 billion worth of efficiency savings by 2019.

The Department for Transport hopes that by switching to smart cards and greater self-service purchasing, railway operators would not only benefit from reducing high costs that are associated with retail, but also provide them with more accurate data about usage.