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Smarter travel goes from strength to strength for Go-Ahead

11 June 2012

ACT continues its work to roll out the intelligent ticketing systems and support that underpin ‘the key’ for Go-Ahead’s bus and rail operations.

An important element of the success of the Go-Ahead smart ticketing system roll out can be directly attributed to the innovation and successful implementation of ACT’s large scale customer and ticketing transaction management products and operational services that underpin the smart ticketing scheme across all of their operating groups.

Gary Watts commented, ”ACT has been supporting Go-Ahead’s progressive ticketing strategy for over 4 years. Since the introduction of the key we have worked tirelessly to roll our next generation ticketing platform across their group of companies. Today’s passengers need a joined-up public transport system that reflects the demands of their daily lives. The key puts passenger convenience first, providing seamless journeys across their rail and bus operations. We look forward to supporting the continued roll out of the key to further Go-Ahead group companies”.

For more information please read the press release published by Go-Ahead below and view the London Midland case study here.


Go-Ahead Group plc: Smarter travel goes from strength to strength for Go-Ahead 

Bus and rail operator Go-Ahead has established an industry leading position in the development of smart ticketing.

Our award-winning smartcard “the key” is the most comprehensive and widely used smartcard ticketing system outside of London.

Since we launched “the key” in June 2011, its popularity has grown rapidly:

  • Over 200,000 key cards are now in issue.
  • On a typical day around 70,000 journeys are made on Go-Ahead buses using “the key”.
  • Sales of tickets using the key have increased by over 500% between July 2011 and April 2012.

“The key” has been introduced across the country, from Newcastle in the North of England to Plymouth in the South. In February 2012, we became the first English operator to have 100% of our bus fleet enabled to accept smartcards. This means that in addition to “the key”, our buses are able to electronically validate the English National Concessionary Card, saving over a million paper tickets being printed every week.

The development of smart ticketing has many benefits to both passengers and our business, including:

  • The generation of additional journeys through more attractive products and ticket types to better match today’s changing journey patterns;
  • Joined up ticketing between bus and rail, to promote multi-modal travel;
  • Guaranteeing the customer the ‘best fare’ if they buy online and use their smartcard;
  • Reduced boarding time on buses leading to better overall operational performance.
  • Removes the need to queue for rail tickets and speeds up time taken to pass through station ticket barriers.
  • Environmental benefits of reduction in paper ticket waste and improvement in bus fuel efficiency through less idling time.

David Brown, Group Chief Executive said: ‘I am delighted “the key” is proving such a big success with our passengers and that Go-Ahead is leading the industry in the development of smart-ticketing. We are committed to finding innovative new ways to make it easier for people to travel with us and smart-ticketing is hugely convenient because passengers can hop on the bus or train without having to worry about buying a ticket or having the correct change.’

Go-Ahead is not standing still with “the key”. We have big plans for the future, which include the following activities:

  • Continued roll out of “the key” across our Southern and London Midland rail franchises, including for journeys to stations inside London from January 2013 onwards. Feedback from the Southern pilot was very positive; 87% of passengers surveyed said they would recommend “the key” to others.
  • In September 2012, Southern will launch “Plus Bus” ticketing on “the key” with two of our bus companies, Brighton & Hove and Metrobus.
  • Continued rollout of “the key lifestyle” product, combining pay monthly smartcard season ticket with additional multi-modal travel benefits such as discounted bicycle hire and car club membership. This has already been piloted by Go North East.
  • Further rollout of “the key benefits” loyalty programme which gives key card holders discounts through selected third party retailers. This has been piloted at Oxford Bus Company.
  • The development of mobile websites and smart phone apps for “the key”, including the ability for customers to top up their smartcard instantly using their phone.
  • Multi modal Pay As You Go being available on “the key” on bus and rail services across Surrey and Sussex from December 2013 onwards.
  • Continued rollout of Mobile Ticketing (M-ticketing) on Android and iPhone platforms following successful pilot in Go North East.

Note to Editors


Go-Ahead is a leading UK public transport operator, providing high quality services in the bus and rail sectors. Employing around 22,000 people across the country, over one billion passenger journeys are undertaken on our services each year. We are committed to operating our companies in a safe, socially and environmentally responsible way and are proud to have been reaccredited with Carbon Trust Standard after taking action on climate change. In addition to the travelling public, our customers include the Department for Transport, Transport for London (TfL) and local authorities.


Go-Ahead is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. With a fleet of around 3,900 buses, we carry, on average, around 1.7 million passengers every day. Our operations are focused on high density commuter markets. We have a strong presence in London, with around 22per cent market share, where we provide regulated services for TfL. We operate deregulated services in Oxford, East Anglia, the South East, Southern and North East England. We also have a yellow school bus joint venture in North America.


The rail operation, Govia, is 65per cent owned by Go-Ahead and 35per cent by Keolis. It is the busiest rail operation in the UK, responsible for nearly 30 per cent of all UK passenger rail journeys through its three rail franchises: Southern (which includes the Gatwick Express), Southeastern and London Midland. In December 2009, Southeastern began operating the UK's only high speed domestic rail service between Kent and London, significantly reducing journey times.



For more information, please contact: Joanne Hutchinson, Marketing Manager, Applied Card Technologies Limited.

T: 01249 751200
F: 01249 751201