Britain’s biggest bus operator Stagecoach will install contactless payment technology on all of its regional bus services across the UK by the end of 2018, allowing passengers to pay for travel with a contactless credit or debit card, as well as Apple Pay and Android Pay.
The £12m (US$14.7m) initiative, which will see nearly one in four buses outside of London ready to accept contactless payments, is the first major deployment of contactless technology on Britain’s buses outside the capital.
It was launched in Oxford today, with contactless technology live on all of Stagecoach’s 180 buses in Oxfordshire, covering Oxford City services, commuter routes into Oxford and the Oxford Tube express services which run to and from London.
The facility will be rolled out to Ashford, Kent, and Tyne and Wear by the end of this year, with Greater Manchester following in January 2017.
By the end of 2018, the technology will be live on all of Stagecoach’s 7,200 buses in England, Scotland and Wales.
Stagecoach has ordered 4,000 contactless ticket machines for more than 50% of its bus fleet, with the remaining 3,200 machines scheduled for 2017-18. There will be no additional charge to customers for using contactless as a means of payment.
Robert Montgomery, managing director of Stagecoach UK Bus, says: “Bus travel is experiencing a complete transformation. Major investment by Stagecoach in new digital technology is making it easier than ever to catch the bus. From contactless technology and new apps, to greener vehicles with the latest environmental performance, buses are the simpler, smarter and greener mobility solution.”
Transport minister Andrew Jones says the move would “help hundreds of thousands of passengers”.
“People will be able to buy tickets online and on smartphones, making bus travel more convenient, cutting queues and speeding up journeys,” he adds.
Stagecoach is working with four other major bus operators in the UK on a scheme that could see EMV contactless travel in place on every bus in Britain by 2022.
The announcement of the project earlier this year came after the unveiling of a framework by The UK Cards Association that would allow transport operators to implement contactless payments for bus and train journeys across the UK.