SPT: Review the Glasgow Subway Paper Tickets: They cannot be recycled!

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The Subway is a Glasgow institution, the new stations are brighter, cleaner and nicer than the old, and all is well (apart from the Sunday hours).

In 2013 SPT brought in the new ticketing system as part of the upgrade. The new smart cards and paper tickets use RFID chips. So far, so good.

Except it's not.

I'm a Neighbourhood Improvement Volunteer in Govan - it means I go out and pick up litter - and there's a lot of litter about. For a few weeks, I kept finding little pieces of soggy white card. Then I started to find bits of plastic with fine metal wiring inside. Mysterious, I thought.

Finally, I found a subway ticket that showed what was going on. They're two pieces of paper, stuck together with a chip. I now pick up around 20 each time I go out. They don't break down, and once you know what those bits of plastic are, you'll see them everywhere.

I put in a FOI request to the SPT - you can see the answers they gave. 

Here's a taste:

  • The tickets aren't recyclable.
  • The new system requires the RFID chips, and so tickets can never be recyclable.
  • The tickets contain no recycled materials - and cannot be made to include them.
  • We're getting through tonnes and tonnes a year.

If it really is the case that the RFID tickets cannot be made recyclable, and cannot be made to contain any recycled elements  - then the SPT need to explain why they introduced such a system in the first place (Paper tickets seem to work well enough on the rather more complicated London Underground/Paris Metro/UK Rail Network).

If it isn't the case, then the SPT need to look into changing it urgently.

To ram the point home: In 2017 the SPT issued 5,397,726 paper tickets. At 1.7g a ticket, thats over 9 tonnes*. 9 tonnes of waste that cannot be recycled.

I've emailed all the elected members of the SPT and it's CEO, all Glasgow City Council Members, the Cabinet Secretaries for Transport and the Environment, and the Holyrood Opposition Spokespeople.

What we need, is for people to become aware of this. It's awful, and needn't be.

*three and a half times as much as Glasgow City Council's Rolls Royce Ghost weighs.