A Travelcard for Cardiff. Update March 2001

A Capital Idea

In 1996 we issued a report entitled 'A Ticket to Ride: a Travelcard for Cardiff'. Little interest was shown by transport providers at the time but it is good to see that Valley Lines and Cardiff Bus have recently launched a 'Capital Card' for Cardiff. The ticket has close similarities with the London Travelcard except that bus use is confined to Cardiff Bus. It gives unlimited rail and bus travel within the City of Cardiff local authority area and is also offered as an add-on fare from any Valley Lines station outside that area, giving 'seamless' travel to any part of the city.

The ticket is available as a one-day off-peak or as a non-time restricted season ticket, ranging from weekly to annual. The incentive to encourage take-up by daily commuters is particularly important as many of the more recently-developed areas of employment have been situated away from the city centre and from railway stations. This has tended to lead people to think that jobs are accessible only by car users.

This initiative is to be warmly welcomed and deserves every success. We hope that when all except inter-city services into Cardiff are operated by a single franchisee the validity will be extended to other stations within similar commuting distance of Cardiff - such as Newport, Pontyclun, Pencoed etc. - which at present, for reasons not connected at all with customer service, happen to be served by a different operator within the same parent group.

See below for RDS's 1996 proposals.

A Travelcard for Cardiff


A Travelcard for Cardiff would be aimed at overcoming several problems:

How it works

London's one day Travelcard allows unlimited travel on tube trains, BR services, all buses and the Docklands Light Railway after 9.30am and all day Saturday and Sunday. London Travelcards are available at different prices for travel in different zones, always including central London.

The Cardiff Travelcard could be split over two or three zones, perhaps following boundaries already operated by Cardiff Bus. An inner zone ticket might cover the city as far as Heath, Llandaff, Danescourt, Grangetown and cost £2 ie just over three times the 65p bus fare.

The Cardiff Travelcard would be widely available at shops and Post Offices (and all outlets currently selling parking vouchers) as well as on the trains, buses and at stations.

Discounts could be offered for bulk purchases, e.g. ten for the price of nine. The blank Travelcard would be franked by the user, for which purpose date-stamping machines could be placed on all trains and buses (this would be less vandal-prone than placing them at bus stops and stations and would allow the date to be set manually at the depots each morning).

The tickets would be valid on all trains, most, if not all, bus services and any future light rail system in Cardiff.

Revenue would be distributed to the Companies according to the results of periodic surveys. In the absence of any PTA type body, the scheme would presumably have to be set up by Cardiff County Council, in the interest of impartiality.

People travelling into Cardiff from further afield, Newport or the valleys, should be able to buy the Travelcard and pay the bus or train fare as far as the Travelcard boundary. E.g. from Caerphilly, people would pay the train fare to Lisvane & Thornhill and buy an outer zone Travelcard, or the train fare to Heath and an inner zone Travelcard. Coming by bus via Nantgarw they would pay the bus fare as far as Tongwynlais or Whitchurch.

Other areas where similar schemes operate


Most cities in Europe offer some kind of multi-modal rover ticket. Paris operates a multi-modal season ticket system called "Carte Orange", which offers an average discount of 57% over the full price of a journey using single or return tickets. The system is administered by the Syndicate des Transports Parisiens on behalf of the local authority. It conducts a customer survey every four years to determine what proportion of Carte Orange revenue should be paid to the various transport operators involved. Cardiff County Council could set up a similar agency to run the Cardiff Travelcard, using passenger surveys every few years to calculate how revenue will be apportioned to Cardiff Bus, the Cardiff rail operator and any other bus operators involved in the scheme.


The fact that many cities in Britain don't offer rover tickets is a reflection of British attitudes to public transport rather than an indication that travelcards don't work. In the few areas where they are offered in Britain eg London, West Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Manchester and Sheffield - they are extremely popular and play an important part in keeping traffic levels in check.

Case study: West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive offers a day rover ticket which is valid on all trains and buses in the county.

The day rover is available from all post offices in the county, main bus stations and railway booking offices. Users scratch off silver coloured panels (similar to lottery tickets) bearing the day and date they wish to use the card. This validates the card for that day only. The user then peels off a backing strip and sticks a transparent cover (which is attached to the ticket) over the scratch card. Attempts to remove the cover will invalidate the card. Note: this is similar to Cardiff's parking voucher scheme.

The day rover costs £2.50 for adults and a family ticket is available for £4.40 covering 2 adults and up to 4 children. This represents extremely good value - the day rover covers the cities of Leeds and Bradford as well as numerous large towns. The day rover is subsidised by West Yorkshire PTE , the functioning arm of the West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Authority which, in turn, is made up of representatives of the local authorities in West Yorkshire.

There are numerous bus operators in West Yorkshire following bus deregulation . The number of train companies has also increased since fragmentation of BR in advance of privatisation. Nevertheless, each one of these companies (perhaps two dozen in total) accepts the day rover. A Cardiff Travelcard would be far simpler to administrate because it would cover the services of only one rail operator and one major bus operator, plus a few other bus firms which run into Cardiff from the outside.

More than half the people using the Docklands Light Railway in London are using Travelcards, as opposed to single or return tickets. This suggests that the light rail system proposed for Cardiff and the Bay would benefit from a Cardiff Travelcard.


The Travelcard would be a useful way of tackling the growing market for leisure travellers who want to visit several areas of Cardiff in one day and currently feel the car is the only way to do so. For example, they may go shopping in Queen Street, visit Techniquest in Cardiff Bay or the National Museum of Wales in Cathays Park, go to the Museum of Welsh Life at St Fagans or visit Llandaff Cathedral and attend a concert in Cardiff International Arena. The cost for a family of four to visit three of these sites would be high at present, but with a Travelcard it could perhaps be £6.

The Travelcard would also be attractive for short hops to save your legs, e.g. if you started a shopping trip at Central Station and ended up laden with bags at the Capitol Centre, you could catch a bus to return to Central Station for the bus or train home. This would be prohibitively expensive under the present system.

The ticket would also be useful for students and people conducting personal business in Cardiff; they might wish to visit Companies House, followed by Central Library, followed by the Inland Revenue at Ty Glas or the BBC in Llandaff or a solicitor's office in Charles Street. Also overseas visitors would benefit, partly because the Travelcard saves having to ask for a ticket in a foreign language each time a bus or train journey is undertaken.

Travelcards might also be held in stock by employers. When members of staff have to go out on business during the day they could take a Travelcard instead of a staff car, thereby reducing the cost to the firm.


The Travelcard should have a catchy name. GreenCard is a possibility; the card could be green in colour, and GreenCard would have a marketing potential because of the USA GreenCard which is a highly desirable way of accessing the country and because of the idea of green being environmentally friendly.

Information needs to be disseminated widely, especially to people currently bringing cars into Cardiff . All publicly owned car parks in Cardiff should display posters advertising the Travelcard; information should be printed on the reverse of parking tickets and city parking vouchers.

Businesses outside the City centre, like Techniquest or Harry Ramsden's, could offer discounts to people using a Travelcard that day. This would encourage use of the facility as well as encouraging people to take a ride out of town to visit such places.


The creation of a Travelcard for Cardiff would benefit all concerned;

© RDS Wales 1996
Updated 12 March 2001

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