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UK bus operators make business case for contactless travel

15 January 2016  |  5191 views  |  6 London bus

Contactless travel could be in place on every bus in Britain by 2022 under a multi-million-pound plan being developed by the country’s five leading 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.

Contactless transactions are already accepted on London’s 9,600 buses. Commuters in the capital were responsible for about 1 in 10 of all UK contactless payments in December 2014.

The new project is intended to complement that scheme, covering more than 1200 bus operators in England, Scotland and Wales, and 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.

Robert Montgomery, Stagecoach UK Bus managing director and chair of the smart ticket steering group says: “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.

“Smart bus ticketing is already widespread across the UK, with ourselves and Go-Ahead having over 1.5 million smartcards in circulation. New technology has brought new opportunities to deliver even simpler, faster and more integrated travel using contactless debit and credit cards."

The UK Cards Association (UKCA) and the Department for Transport (DfT) earlier this week published a national framework for contactless journeys across the UK. This work will help underpin the development of the business case for introducing contactless bus travel across the country, says Montgomery.

Comments: (6)

Alexander Peschkoff
Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 15 January, 2016, 10:39 "WILL make a business case" does not always equal "will deliver". There are many questions there: political, legislative, technical, psychological ones...
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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 20 January, 2016, 10:03

2022? If I can predict that cash will still be around then I guess these bus operators are entitled to expect that contactless will still be hot then.

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Alexander Peschkoff
Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 20 January, 2016, 13:15

Ketharaman, it's not about the tech per se. cEMV does work (well) for TfL - no cash on the buses, for example. It's all about the execution!

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 20 January, 2016, 13:39

@AlexanderP:

I agree but (1) Contactless is not just technology in TfL buses, it is execution, and it has been that way at least as far back as 2007 when I was in UK (I don't remember ever using cash for a single TfL bus ride). (2) There has to be a limit to how long execution can take, especially in fast-moving technologies, otherwise it could become obsolete by the time it goes live!

If only bus operators executed tech as rapidly as their buses ran, I'm sure this can happen much earlier than 2022!

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Alexander Peschkoff
Alexander Peschkoff - TEDIPAY - London | 20 January, 2016, 13:43

Well, MultiPass will be implementing cEMV with several bus and train operators in the UK as early as May-June 2016...

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Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune | 20 January, 2016, 14:17

Ah, that sounds better.

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