From today (January 25), Leap Card users with Near Field Communications (NFC)-enabled Android phones can check their card balance and instantly top-up their card with travel credit or collect pre-purchased tickets, including TaxSaver tickets, onto their Leap Card – all by touching their card against their phones. The Leap Top-Up App uses NFC technology to communicate directly between the phone and the Leap Card.
This new enhancement will be particularly useful to Leap Card users who most regularly travel by bus as, until now, they have had to detour to a shop to upload credit or ticket products bought earlier online.
Any Leap Card holder with an NFC-enabled Android smartphone which runs version 4.4 KitKat or later, and with a Google Play account can download the Leap Top-Up App, and start using this new feature immediately. In addition, people with the App on their phones can check a friend’s Leap Card Balance for them, allow them to collect a ticket or pay for a friend’s Leap Card top-up, instantly, and in their own time.
The new service was launched by Paschal Donohoe TD, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, who said that it further enhances the attractiveness of the Leap Card for users.
Leap customers are already making significant savings of 20% on travel costs and are spared the hassle of having to make sure they have the right change before setting off. The NTA is to be commended for the forward thinking they have shown in respect of how to further improve Leap services. By listening to their customers and identifying an area that could make using Leap Cards even easier they set about addressing customers’ needs through advances in digital technology.
Public transport passenger numbers increased by 3.5% in 2015, and the minister predicted that the new technology would be another step in the direction of seeing those results replicated across 2016.
Anne Graham, CEO of the National Transport Authority, said that more than 1.5 million Leap cards have been sold since its launch four years ago.
“We have been listening to customer feedback, and our bus customers in particular were telling us that they would welcome a more convenient top-up process. Train, DART and Luas users’ cards automatically update following an online top-up or ticket purchase when the card is touched-on to a gate or terminal at the start of a journey, but the bus user has to go to a shop or a dedicated terminal, not always on their way, to load-up the credit they’d bought online or to collect their TaxSaver ticket. Today’s new App means that people can make those top-up or ticket collections, using credit or debit cards, while they are on their way from A to B, or in the comfort of their own homes at night – whenever suits them – and start using them straightaway.”
Leap is is one of the first travel smartcards in the world to develop an App using NFC technology, she said, describing the feedback from trials as “very positive”. Ms Graham encouraged users to send feedback on their experiences of the technology to a dedicated email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We will be paying close attention to this feedback, and we plan to tweak the App accordingly, if any issues are found, or enhancements requested”.
The NTA has produced a short video explaining the Leap Top-Up App.
You can check whether your Android phone is NFC-enabled and turn it on by going to Settings : Wireless and Networks : More : Turn on NFC.
Apple has not yet decided to allow access to NFC technology by third parties. If and when they do, the National Transport Authority says that it will develop an iPhone version.
For more details, check out Transport for Ireland.