A UNIQUE Cheshire-based travel card used daily by more than 2,000 bus passengers will now step up a gear thanks to £428,919 of Government money which will help create a national standard.
The news comes just two months after the Chester Travelcard - led by the county council's Transport Co-ordination Service - won a 'Bus Oscar' at the Bus Industry Awards.
The 'stored value' and 'zone' cards scheme stretches from Chester, across parts of Cheshire and into Merseyside and North East Wales and boasts a number of 'firsts'.
The funding will help create a standard which can be copied across the country.
'This announcement reinforces Cheshire's national lead and is a clear vote of confidence from the Department for Transport,' said environment executive member Andrew Needham.
'Out of the six local authorities who applied for funding and model status only Cheshire County Council's was honoured in full.
'It is further excellent news on funding for transport-related projects in the county.'
He added: 'Our Travelcard project has the potential to be highly significant and become the blueprint for others to copy.
'Research can now take place with the aim of extending our scheme to other parts of Cheshire and our discoveries could then be 'rolled out' as part of a national standard.
'In future we hope all the different smartcard schemes across the country will be compatible so bus passengers could journey anywhere in England using just one card which will provide convenient and cost-saving travel.'
At present Chester City Transport, First, Arriva North Wales and West and Arrowebrook Coaches have special scanning equipment so money can be 'loaded' on to a Travelcard.