UK operators announce plan for contactless travel on all buses by 2022

12 January 2016  •  Author(s): Katie Sadler, Digital Content Producer, Eurotransport

Ambitious plans have been unveiled today announcing the introduction of contactless travel on every bus in Britain by 2022.

UK bus operators announce plan for contactless travel on all buses by 2022

A multi-million-pound-plan developed by the country’s major transport groups was revealed on the 12 January 2016, announcing plans to introduce contactless travel using contactless cards and devices on all buses by 2022.

The UK’s five main 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. It would offer cashless travel for those who want it and capped pay-as-you-go-fares in all urban areas.

This new project would complement the established contactless scheme on London buses and cover more than 1,200 bus operators in England, Scotland and Wales, making contactless travel available for 5.2 billion bus passenger journeys a year across Britain. Associated government legislation would be needed to ensure contactless ticketing was offered by all individual bus operators.

The development of the bus contactless plan comes just weeks after the major operators completed the introduction of smart multi-operator bus ticketing in all nine of England’s smart city regions with support from local transport authorities. A similar project is now underway in Scotland to deliver the same benefits to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.

“The smart ticketing revolution is helping to build a modern, affordable transport network”

Welcoming progress made on plans to introduce contactless travel, Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: “The smart ticketing revolution is helping to build a modern, affordable transport network that provides better journeys for everyone. By working together, industry, city regions and government have been able to ensure more and more people can use smart ticketing to get around. We are determined to continue driving progress so passengers get the quick and simple journeys that they want and deserve.”

Robert Montgomery, Stagecoach UK Bus Managing Director and chair of the major operators’ steering group on smart ticketing, said: “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.

“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.”

National framework established to ensure high-quality customer service for contactless travel

The UK Cards Association (UKCA) and the Department for Transport (DfT) has also published a national framework to help deliver a consistent, high-quality customer experience for contactless journeys. This work will help underpin the development of the business case for introducing contactless bus travel across the country.

Approximately 76 million contactless cards are now in issue in the UK; this figure has risen 40 percent in the past year alone. Some £929.8 million was spent in the UK in October 2015 alone using a contactless card.

Melanie Johnson, Chair of the UK Cards Association, said: “Payment cards play a key role in our lives and we believe this work contributes to making public transport more convenient for millions of passengers.

“Our collaborative project with the transport industry aims to transform the way customers pay for their travel and supports the Government’s objectives. This framework sets out how contactless payments can be used to support any journey, whether a single bus ride or a cross-country trip.”

The development of the bus contactless plan comes just weeks after the major operators delivered on a pledge made in November 2014 to introduce smart multi-operator bus ticketing in all of England’s smart city regions by the end of 2015.

Passengers can now travel between operators in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, South and West Yorkshire, as well as Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol.


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