FirstGroup, the UK’s largest bus and rail operator, announced to invest £27m to fit contactless card readers to its 5,000 strong bus fleet in England, outside London by 2012.
The company intends to be the first bus operator outside London to offer customers contactless payments and will affect 2.5 million daily customers. The new ticket machines, designed to read contactless debit or credit cards, in addition to ITSO smartcards such as concessionary bus passes, will be introduced to buses from the autumn and will initially allow customers with an ITSO smartcard to touch in. Contactless bank cards will be accepted across England from late 2012.
With the continuing rapid advancement of mobile phone technology, FirstGroup has also ensured that its new system has the capability to accept payment via mobile phone.
Giles Fearnley, Managing Director of FirstGroup’s UK Bus division, said: “The public transport industry will increasingly rely on new technology such as contactless bank cards and mobile phones to both retain and attract customers. It’s an exciting prospect and I’m delighted that FirstGroup is at the forefront and setting new standards in the bus industry.
First will invest £27million in total on its new ticketing system. The £18m contract to supply ticket machines has been won by Swindon-based Almex, part of Hoeft & Wessel Group.
The new ticketing technology will be implemented to all of First’s services in England, including Bristol, Manchester, Bolton, Oldham, Wigan, Stoke, Northampton, Leeds, York, Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leicester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Plymouth, Ipswich, Norwich, Slough and Bracknell.Chip and PIN, Contactless Kernel, Contactless Payments, EMV Kernel