Metro makes moves to sponsor UK travelcard

The owner of free urban newspaper Metro is understood to be in talks with the Department for Transport (DfT) and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) to sponsor a new Oyster Card-like paperless ticket that can be used across the country on trains, buses and the underground.

Commuters Clapham Junction

The smartcard is set to be trialled in the South East in the coming months and will automatically deduct the cheapest fare for each journey across transport in the region. It is hoped the move, when it rolls out nationally, will save passengers money on travel and will prevent train companies from needing to spend excessive money on the magnetic strips in tickets.

Metro owner Associated Newspapers is thought to be in early stage discussions to be the headline sponsor of the card as it looks to further drive brand awareness and loyalty amongst commuters in urban towns and cities. It has recently advertised the trademark “Metrocard” in the Intellectual Property Office’s (IPO) Trademarks Journal.

Last month the IPO sent notifications to Northern Ireland’s Ulsterbus Limited – which uses “Metro” branding on its buses – and Tesco – which has a raft of “Metro” convenience stores across high streets in cities and towns in the UK – to inform them Associated Newspapers may be using the Metrocard name.

The newspaper was also the first to “exclusively” break the story about the paperless ticket trial, featuring an interview with transport minister Norman Baker on its front page last week (25 September).

Today (1 October), in another recent move to build its association with transport, the Metro is running a promotion with Santander, which offers the bank’s credit card customers 3 per cent cash back on National Rail and Transport for London travel. The activity features a Metro.co.uk website takeover by the bank, press ads and the newspaper’s team of distributors were also handing out free Oystercard holders displaying the promotion this morning.

A spokeswoman for Associated Newspapers confirmed Metro holds the trademark for Metrocard “with a view to future projects” but would not be drawn on the nature of these.

An ATOC spokesman also would not elaborate on sponsorship plans for the card, but said: “Train companies are always looking to improve services and the industry is exploring ways that smart ticketing could be introduced to reduce journey times, offer more flexible fares and drive down industry costs. More people take the train today than at any time since the 1920s and Oyster-style cards, print at home tickets and mobile phone technology will make rail travel easier and help attract more passengers to the nation’s booming railway.”

The Department for Transport did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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