| 12.6°C Dublin

Auto top-up of Leap cards on the way

TESTING is under way to allow Leap card users to top up their balance automatically.

NEW developments to the system are due to be introduced early this year.

With the auto top-up, customers would sign up to a service that would automatically top up their Leap card from their bank account.

More than 182,000 Leap Cards have been issued, and top-ups on the cards amounted to over €20m in its first year.

The card -- an integrated transport ticket -- was launched in December 2011.

A spokeswoman for the National Transport Authority (NTA) told the Herald: "In 2013 we aim to launch Leap on Bus Eireann, Swords Express and other private operators."

More than 20pc of all 'casual users' of public transport -- who paid cash -- use a Leap card.

She said: "Over 11m journeys have been taken with Leap".

Meanwhile, a spokesman for rail users Ireland said that, while the Leap card shows promise, there has been a slow roll-out of a number of features, including annual tickets.

The spokesman said "daily and seven-day capping" is needed, adding that Leap can work out more expensive than buying a day or weekly ticket.

In relation to Dublin Bus, he said: "The lack of a flat fare or a tag-on and tag-off system continues to lead to confusion. The process is slower than cash and frequently it takes a second attempt to get the card to read."

The NTA spokeswoman said: "Dublin Bus customers who use their Leap to travel more than 13 stages simply touch the validator, with no driver interaction required.

"Those travelling under 13 stages put their card on the driver's ticket machine and the driver presses one button to deduct the fare.

"Generally, this is quicker than counting out the exact change and paying with cash."

fdillon@herald.ie