The UK government has committed £20 million to a transport e-ticketing programme that will see England's nine major urban areas go paperless within five years.
The Smart and Integrated Ticketing Strategy will see an infrastructure put in place based on the government-backed ITSO smartcard specification which will enable 'tickets' to work anywhere in the country.
Travellers could then use Oyster-style cards, mobile phones and bank cards equipped with microchips to pay directly for journeys by tapping them against readers.
The nine largest urban areas in England outside London - Greater Manchester, West Midlands, Tyne and Wear, Merseyside, South Yorkshire, and West Yorkshire, Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol - will implement the technology with the rest of the country slated to follow by 2020.
Each urban area will be given up to £2.2 million to fund the implementation and will be required to submit spending plans for the money in early 2010.
To incentivise bus operators to install smart ticketing systems, the government will also give an eight per cent increase in the Bus Service Operator Grant if they have ITSO smartcard infrastructure on their buses.
The government estimates that the benefits of 'integrated smart' ticketing, that allows travel across operators and across modes, could be worth over £1 billion per year.
A recent survey commissioned by the department of transport indicates that the technology could attract up to 25% more people onto the system and that a pre-pay smartcard with a daily 'cap' could increase some individuals' trip rates by over 14%.
Andrew Adonis, transport secretary, says: "The benefits of smart ticketing to passengers are clear - quicker, easier and potentially better value journeys on trains, buses and trams, whichever company runs the service. We could even see the death of the paper ticket as direct payment and mobile phone technology picks up pace."
You can read the Smart and Integrated Ticketing Strategy here: