Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

19th September 2011

Goo Goo G’ Joob
Posted by at 8.18pm | Liverpool, Trains | 1 response

Merseytravel Walrus CardIt’s hard not to be a fan of the Oyster Card. As I wandered around London during my recent visit, it was great not to have to worry about fishing for cash or accidentally travelling out of an arbitrarily-defined zone. Simply tap your card on the yellow pad and let the computers do the rest.

I think it’s safe to say that the introduction of Oyster was nothing less than a revolution in ticketing. With online and automatic topup options available, the days of queueing at ticket offices to pay public transport fares are a distant memory for most Londoners.

I have, therefore, been eagerly awaiting the long-threatened launch of Merseytravel’s equivalent technology. I was excited this summer by the sight of smartcard readers appearing on the ticket barriers at Merseyrail’s major stations for the use of bewildered pensioners travelling on free passes.

Until now though, it was not known when non-coffin dodgers would be able to get their hands on one. Well, the wait is over and the next phase of the rollout has begun. From today, commuters renewing their all-zone Trio ticket will not get the date-stamp-on-a-sticker which has been the standard issue for years. Instead, they will be issued with their ticket on a new Merseytravel-branded smartcard: Walrus.

Yes, Walrus.

I’m not quite sure what the thinking is: I think it’s an attempt to continue the sea-based theme (after Hong Kong’s Octopus and Oyster), as well as enabling a slew of “I am the Walrus” puns. Yes, it’s Liverpool, so it has to be the fucking Beatles again. At least the marketing people came up with something slightly more imaginative than Ticket to Ride.

Merseytravel have a nice little web site about the card complete with a video which tries really hard to sell the branding. It nearly won me over with “Walrus in your wallet”, but by that point I was already annoyed by the narrator talking about topping up the card, “or feeding the Walrus as I like to call it.” (aargh!)

I have plenty of time to get used to the name: if the rollout plan is adhered to, I (as a monthly season ticket holder) won’t get my hands on a Walrus until Autumn 2012. The final phase – Oyster-style pay-as-you-go – will not be completed until 2013.

I will grudgingly admit to liking the design of the card, with the Walrus “tusks” which also bring to mind the livery design on the outer ends of Merseyrail trains.

It’s surely going to be a great boon to the travelling public. But oh, the name!