Bus groups deliver on smart ticketing pledge
The major bus groups have confirmed that their joint pledge made in November 2014 to roll-out smart ticketing in England’s major city regions has been fulfilled by the end of 2015. Passengers can now use one smartcard to travel on different bus operators’ vehicles in the main metropolitan areas of Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Tyne and Wear, West Midlands, South and West Yorkshire, as well as Nottingham, Leicester and Bristol.
The initiative has involved Stagecoach, FirstGroup, Go-Ahead, Arriva and National Express, and support from transport authority partners.
Collectively, the five companies claim to operate around six out of every 10 buses in the UK, and in a statement released by Stagecoach on behalf of all five groups, they point out that the cost of multi-operator travel has been reduced in a number of areas, alongside the smart ticketing launch, with some prices cut by around 20 per cent.
Around 10,000 of the 26,000 buses in service in England outside London are located in the main metropolitan areas alone and around 15 million people live in England’s nine biggest city regions that are within the Department for Transport’s Smart Cities Partnership and cover more than 50 local authority areas.
The launch of smart, multi-operator bus ticketing will also help underpin the economy and growth aspirations of these key regions.
“We have a multi-million-pound rolling programme of investment in giving our customers new digital tools to make their journeys easier,” says Robert Montgomery, managing director, Stagecoach UK Bus. “Stagecoach already provides passengers with the most extensive bus smart ticketing platform outside London and we are delighted to work jointly with our industry partners and transport authorities to deliver more seamless travel to attract more people on board the country’s buses.”
Giles Fearnley, managing director, First Bus, adds: “First Bus is delighted to have played its part in delivering this important development in smart ticketing which complements our existing mobile ticketing offer available across all our networks. Along with our fellow operators, we are determined to work with our local authority partners to make it easy and attractive to use bus services.”
According to the groups, the smart ticketing initiative was larger in scale than the Oyster project in London and benefits nearly 6.5 million more people than the scheme in the capital.
The latest smart ticketing developments were welcomed by transport minister Andrew Jones: “This is a great example of the bus industry and transport authorities leading the way on smart ticketing, working in partnership to make everyday journeys easier and more convenient for millions of people in city regions across the country.
“Buses are the backbone of our transport system, which is why our long-term economic plan is providing £250million to support bus services outside of London to help people get around and get on.”