Bus bosses say going ‘digital’ will speed up journey times
FIRST Bus passengers will be able to buy paper tickets with contactless cards from next week.
Stagecoach passengers here can already buy a ticket using contactless payment - and the move follows last year’s launch of the Get Me There card to view, buy and upload tickets on trams and buses.
This latest development does mark further progress for Greater Manchester - but the region is still miles behind London when it comes to smart ticketing.
In the capital, passengers have for years been able to pay with their cards, with an ‘automatic purse’ recording total spend and calculating the overall fare when you beep on and off buses and the London Underground.
Here, a bus driver will still have to type in the fare and the passenger will pay as they would in a shop.
And we won’t be getting ‘automatic purse’ payment on trams until next year, with trains and buses to possibly follow in 2021 - depending on how discussions around bus partnership or a franchising agreement between operators and political leaders go.
Meanwhile, just 200 miles away London is celebrating 15 years of the Oyster card, and four years of contactless purse payment - with the technology to automatically cap fares to ‘daily’ and ‘weekly’ levels.
You can now use 100 different international credit cards or your Oyster card to bleep your way across London’s Underground, local rail network, buses, trams and even Thames Clipper ferries.
But First bosses say the new ‘digital’ payment will lower bus boarding times and speed up journey times. Passengers can also buy mobile ‘mtickets’ in advance, often at a cheaper price than those available on boarding.
Ian Humphreys, managing director of First Manchester, said: “We’re proud to announce the anticipated launch of contactless payments across our entire Greater Manchester fleet.
“We’ve made a signifi- cant investment in new ‘Ticketer’ ticket machines, which means that we can now offer contactless as a payment option for our customers.”
He said the move would make bus travel more convenient, adding: “If more customers switched from cash to a ‘digital’ payment method, then this would help to speed up bus barding times and will therefore make overall journeys quicker.”
Contactless can be used to buy any paper tickets up to the value of £30. To use contactless request the ticket you wish to purchase from the driver, present your contactless card or mobile and you’ll receive a receipt along with a ticket for your journey.
A Transport for the North (TfN) spokesman said: “The Integrated and Smart Travel programme is still on track to deliver an account-based travel system, enabling use of contactless card payments on all modes of public transport across the North, by 2021.
“Last month we received Outline Business Case approval from HM Treasury and are currently in procurement for the Account Based Back Office for Travel (ABBOT) system. “
Stephen Rhodes, Transport for Greater Manchester’s customer director, said people wanted a better, simpler and more integrated fares an ticketing system and they were working hard to deliver it.
He added: “We’re introducing a zonal system on Metrolink early next year, which will make fares easier to understand and offer customers more flexibility and better value for their money.
“This will be followed by the introduction of contactless account-based ticketing on the network, which will allow customers to use their bank card or other smart payment to touch in and out, with their daily travel automatically capped at the best price.
“In addition we are working in partnership with Transport for the North to improve connectivity across the North through smart ticketing across bus, train and tramservices.”
●●From next week First Bus passengers can use contactless cards to buy paper tickets