Contactless payment could be offered on every bus in Britain by 2022, allowing passengers to pay via smartphone, wearable device or contactless debit or credit card.
Britain’s five biggest bus operators — Stagecoach, First Bus, Go-Ahead, Arriva and National Express — announced earlier this month that they are jointly developing a business case for introducing contactless bus travel across the country.
If it goes ahead, the initiative could see new payment technology introduced on every one of the UK’s 32,000-plus buses outside London.
Smart, multi-operator bus ticketing is already available in all nine of England’s smart city regions — Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, South and West Yorkshire, Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol — and a similar project is underway in Scotland to deliver the same benefits to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.
Contactless transactions are also accepted on London’s 9,600 buses and the new project would complement that scheme, the bus operators said. It is planned to cover more than 1,200 bus operators in England, Scotland and Wales, making mobile and contactless payment available for 5.2 billion bus passenger journeys a year across Britain.
Commenting on the plans, 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.”
Transport Minister Andrew Jones added: “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.”