Contactless travel could be in place on every bus in Britain by 2022 under a multi-million-pound plan being developed by five major bus operators. Stagecoach, First Bus, Go-Ahead, Arriva and National Express are working together to produce a business case which is expected to be completed by late spring 2016.
“The scheme, funded predominantly by the private sector, could see new EMV contactless technology installed on every one of the UK’s 32,000-plus buses outside London,” the operators say. “It would offer cashless travel for those who want it and capped pay-as-you-go fares in all urban areas.
“Contactless transactions are already accepted on London’s 9,600 buses. This new project would complement that scheme, covering more than 1,200 bus operators in England, Scotland and Wales and making contactless travel available for 5.2bn bus passenger journeys a year across Britain.”
“This contactless initiative would be the biggest smart ticketing project ever delivered in Britain and a major milestone in providing simpler travel for the millions of people who rely on buses,” says Stagecoach UK’s Robert Montgomery, chair of the project’s steering group.
“Smart bus ticketing is already widespread across the UK, with ourselves and Go-Ahead having over 1.5m smartcards in circulation,” Montgomery continues. “New technology has brought new opportunities to deliver even simpler, faster and more integrated travel using contactless debit and credit cards. This is an ambitious programme that needs careful planning and close partnership working both between operators and with local authorities.”
“We are serious about transforming travel for passengers with this initiative which would be funded predominantly by Britain’s bus companies, working in partnership with transport authorities. It demonstrates how central the private sector is to delivering the vital investment needed to improve bus services for customers and meet the social and economic aspirations of communities across the country.”
The announcement follows the unveiling of a framework by The UK Cards Association earlier this week that sets out to enable transport operators to implement contactless payments for bus and train journeys across the UK. This work will underpin the development of the bus operators’ plans for contactless bus travel.