Tyne & Wear Metro ticket machines saw a record amount of sales in the run-up to Christmas, as takings passed through the £3 million mark in a single month for the first time.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro and collects all fares, saw the sales landmark passed during November and early December, the latest period for which figures are available.
It puts the increase in sales down to growth in adult ticket sales, more passengers using Pop smart cards to buy from machines and the phasing-in of station gates, making it harder for people to avoid paying for travel.
John Fenwick, Nexus Director of Finance and Resources, said: “Metro is at its busiest in the run-up to Christmas, and this year we have seen healthy revenue growth help push ticket machine sales above £3 million in a single four-week period for the first time.
“Passengers have responded to the easier ways to pay which come from Nexus investment in new ticket machines and Pop smart cards.
“More than 60,000 Metro passengers now use smart cards to make journeys, enjoying the convenience of being able to pay in advance at any station ticket machine.
“We are also seeing a very positive impact as we phase in the use of gates at our busiest stations, making it much harder for people to avoid paying for travel. This is what the business case for this significant investment in new technology was based on, with the added benefit that customers may also feel safer as a result.
“Nexus is a public body and relies on central government subsidy to operate Metro, but the benefit of healthy sales is passed on to the passenger as we have kept average fare rises below inflation for 2014.”
Nexus completed a project to install 225 new ticket machines at its 60 Metro stations in spring 2013.
The new machines are part of the biggest roll-out of smart travel outside London, and allow people to pay for annual, four-weekly and weekly season tickets and load them onto Pop cards.
Customers can choose to pay with cash or credit and debit cards, including contactless Paywave cards.
More than 20,000 passengers a month now use contactless payment, speeding up the time it takes them to buy tickets.
Nexus is introducing more ways to pay in 2014, with expanded online retailing, sales through local shops and pay-as-you-go smart travel on Pop cards all set to be rolled out.