The promise made by the bus industry to have ticketless travel up and running by 2022 has been welcomed by Bus Users UK.
The organisation wants to see smart ticketing on all buses outside of London introduced as quickly as possible, with a level playing field for smaller operators and those passengers without access to bank accounts. However, it said big questions remain.
Norman Baker, Chairman of Bus Users UK, said: “Contactless ticketing is potentially a great route to higher passenger numbers.
“We have seen from what has happened in London how contactless travel has grown in popularity. Indeed, this method of payment is becoming commonplace in retail, and bus companies need to keep pace with customer demand.
“But while the pledge is welcome, there are important details to nail down in terms of the proposed timetable for rolling out the scheme, such as who will be paying for it? How will the scheme ensure small bus companies with tight budgets are not left behind? And how will this work outside flat fare areas?”
Chief Executive of Bus Users, Claire Walters, said: “Feedback from passengers suggests that smart ticketing will make it easier for many passengers to access services and plan their journeys and, in many cases, may even reduce travel times – so the sooner it can be introduced the better.”
However, Claire said she any system of smart ticketing needs to accommodate the significant number of passengers without bank accounts.
“One of the biggest benefits of bus travel is that it is socially inclusive, and any scheme that is eventually introduced must be accessible to everyone,” she added.