Bus bosses say go­ing ‘dig­i­tal’ will speed up jour­ney times

Rochdale Observer - - FRONT PAGE - Da­mon.wilkin­son@men-news.co.uk @Da­monWilkin­son6

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

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