National Express brings contactless to West Midlands buses and trams

National Express West Midlands is fitting every one of its 1500 buses with state-of-the-art contactless technology. It has signed a multi-million pound deal for ticket machines that can take bank cards, smartphones and smart watches, as well as cash and Swift smartcards.

The first ticket machines will be appearing on buses in Coventry at the end of this year, and will be rolled out across the whole West Midlands fleet over the following two years.

Managing Director Peter Coates said:

“We know our customers want the choice of using contactless when they travel. Only a month ago, we introduced it on the Midland Metro and already 7% of passengers buying a ticket on board are using contactless. So, as part of our pledge to the West Midlands Bus Alliance to get more people travelling by bus, we are investing in contactless because it makes journeys quicker and easier for passengers.”

The new technology will speed up bus journey times because passengers will spend less time buying a ticket. A recent report for Greener Journeys - The Effects of Congestion on Bus Passengers by Professor David Begg - pointed out:

“If London-style cashless buses with contactless payment and smart ticketing could be extended to the rest of the UK, bus journey times could be improved by up to 10% by halving dwell time at bus stops. In urban conditions, dwell time makes up between 25% and 33% of total journey time. The big five bus operators in the UK have set a target to introduce contactless bus transactions by 2022. They should do everything possible to accelerate this, and it is realistic for them to achieve this goal in the large conurbations within three years.” 

National Express West Midlands awarded the contract for driver consoles, on-board computers, ticket printers, validators and the back-office system to keep it all running to German company INIT Innovations in Transportation Ltd, who are based in Karlsruhe.

Jens Mullak, Managing Director of INIT Ltd, said:

“Our solutions are already in use around the globe, and National Express is an important new customer for us in the UK. I think that, with the popularity of contactless bank cards and the use of mobile phones, contactless will surely replace cash payments more and more."

Published 6th July 2016

 
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