In the first major deployment of contactless technology on bus services outside London, Stagecoach has announced plans to bring tap-and-go payments to all of its regional transport services across the UK by the end of 2018.
The £12million initiative will allow passengers to pay for their travel with a contactless credit or debit card, as well as Apple Pay and Android Pay.
The first stage of the project is already up and running on all of Stagecoach's 180 buses in Oxfordshire. It covers Oxford City services, commuter routes into Oxford and Oxford Tube express services which run to and from London 24 hours a day.
The facility will be rolled out to Ashford in Kent and Tyne and Wear by the end of this year with Greater Manchester following in January 2017, covering a further 1300. By the end of 2018, the technology will be live on all of Stagecoach's 7200 buses in England, Scotland and Wales - equivalent to nearly one in four buses outside London.
Stagecoach has already ordered 4000 contatless ticket machines, covering more than 50% of its bus fleet, with the remaining 3,200 machines scheduled for 2017-18.
The move comes just weeks after Stagecoach launched a new smartphone app providing customers with simple journey planning, next-stop information and live bus tracking. Mobile phone ticketing is being rolled out across the UK over the next three months, with the facility already live in Greater Manchester.
Around 76 million contactless cards are now in issue in the UK - a rise of nearly 40% in the past year. Contactless transactions are already accepted on London’s 9600 buses.
Stagecoach is also working with other major bus operators - First Bus, Go-Ahead, Arriva and National Express - on a major project to have EMV contactless technology installed on every one of the UK’s 32,000-plus buses outside London.
The project would cover more than 1200 bus operators in England, Scotland and Wales, and make contactless travel available for 5.2 billion bus passenger journeys a year across Britain.