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ITSO Ltd is a non-profit distributing technical, standardisation and interoperability membership organisation[1][2] with objectives to:

  • maintain and develop the ITSO specification for transport smartcards
  • operate and manage an interoperable smart media environment
  • facilitate and support development of interoperable smart ticketing schemes that comply with the ITSO specification.

ITSO was established as a result of discussions between various UK passenger transport authorities concerning the lack of standards for interoperable smart card ticketing. These discussions grew to include other authorities, transport operators and government. ITSO membership covers the breadth of the transport sector including transport operators (bus, tram and train operating companies), suppliers to the industry, local authorities and public transport executives. Supported by the Department for Transport, ITSO has links with major transport industry organisations and established smart card schemes in the UK and overseas.

ITSO started out as the Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation but this has been dropped and is now just 'ITSO'. That is because the specification covers other forms of ticketing besides smartcards and transport.

The Department for Transport introduced in 2008 the English National Concessionary Travel Scheme for all people of retirement age and eligible disabled persons (according to the Transport Acts 1985 and 2000) using buses, which uses ITSO smart cards. Transport Scotland and the Welsh Government have implemented ITSO in their concessionary travel schemes. Transport authorities and operators are now rolling out commercial uses for ITSO-based smartcards throughout the country.


The ITSO specification is a technical platform on which interoperable smart ticketing schemes can be built. It defines the key technical items and interfaces that are required to deliver interoperability between both, components of a ticketing system – smart media (smart cards), points of service and back offices – and separate ticketing systems. ITSO is unique in transport smart card specifications in that it covers all components – card, point of service and back office systems.

English National Concessionary Travel Scheme[edit]

The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme is a national scheme by the Department for Transport in conjunction with local authorities across England on which ITSO worked to standardise and ensure interoperability of cards and readers. The ITSO logo features on the bottom right corner of the bus pass.


The ITSO member list includes most of the major bus operators, ticket issuing system vendors and passenger transport executives.[3]

Non-ITSO systems[edit]

The largest commercial-based scheme is by Transport for London, marketed as Oyster. TfL has funded Oyster readers for all London rail stations in London zones 1-6, and the Department for Transport has worked with TfL to ensure the readers will also be compatible with the ITSO specification.[4]

The UK equivalent interoperability organisation for sectors other than transport ticketing is Lasseo which provides an open specification for UK local authorities to add public services onto ITSO based cards, and a Scottish consortium of local authorities looks at standard and interoperability issues in Scotland.[5]


  1. ^ House of Commons Transport Committee (2006–2007). The Draft Local Transport Bill and the Transport Innovation Fund: ninth report of session 2006-07: Volume II. London: TSO (The Stationery Office). pp. 8 of 367. ISBN 9780215035851.
  2. ^ "Registered status of organisation". Companies House, UK. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
  3. ^ "Members and Registered Suppliers of ITSO". Retrieved 20 January 2013.
  4. ^ "The ITSO Specification". Retrieved 7 February 2013.
  5. ^ Atkins, Wendy (2003). The Smart Card Report. Elsevier Science Ltd. p. 324. ISBN 9781856174176. page 176.

External links[edit]