Manufacturers of intelligent transport systems are lining up to bid for millions of pounds worth of potential contracts following this week’s Transport White Paper.
Sophisticated electronic systems will be central to many of the proposals, which include plans to charge for road use in towns and on specific roads.
The White Paper also calls for the creation of an integrated public transport information system to provide bus and train timetable information nationwide by 2000, and combined route guidance and traffic information for drivers.
Industry research has estimated that the market for the type of technology needed will be worth £1bn by 2000.
Susan Harvey, secretary- general of industry association ITS Focus, welcomed the plans, but saw the 2000 deadline for the timetable system as ‘ambitious’.
Paul Henry, director of IT service provider EDS, said: ‘We could roll out a system in the UK next week,’ but getting operators to supply reliable timetable information would be ‘difficult’.
EDS operates a national transport information system in Holland, which offers information by telephone, internet or teletext.
It hopes to win a London Transport contract for ticketing and revenue collection on the buses and underground soon. Magnetic strip tickets will be replaced with contactless smart cards. Henry said the system could eventually be expanded to provide seamless intermodal ticketing for bus and train journeys anywhere in the UK.
Peter Fisher, division director of Bosch Telecom, one of two companies which recently tested motorway tolling systems, said development of the hardware was complete and it had been released for production.
Finalisation of back-office software now awaits a government lead on how the system will be administered.