First Bristol sets out smart ticketing future

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George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, with James Freeman, First Bristol Managing Director
George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, with James Freeman, First Bristol Managing Director

Operator aims to bring multiple forms of smart ticketing to the city by the end of 2018

First Bristol has announced plans for improvements to public transport ticketing in and around the city over the next two years.

The operator has claimed that by 2018, Bristol residents will be able to move freely across the city from bus to train, purchasing tickets using a contactless credit or debit card, while accessing real-time information via a new unified app which brings bus and rail information and ticket bookings together in one place.

James Freeman, Managing Director of First Bristol, said: “The smart revolution in transport ticketing is definitely rolling into town.

“This year will see further developments in preparation for taking major steps forward in 2017.

“The aim is to provide people with a really simple, easy and cost-effective way of paying for their travel and to speed up boarding times. We know these are currently very slow in the West of England and a cause of some real frustration.”

First said the use of mobile ticketing has been increasing rapidly in Bristol and this summer the operator will introduce new products on the platform, including a ten-trip ticket for shorter journeys as well as a five-trip ticket.

In the first quarter of 2017, a joint bus and rail smartcard scheme will be launched. The smart card scheme will initially offer weekly ticketing options to customers.

First Bristol is also looking to introduce contactless credit card payments on certain services. A pilot will operate with the aim of replacing cash as a means of payment entirely by 2020.

Other developments planned for roll-out in 2017 include a common WiFi signal between buses and trains, allowing customers to log on once as they move between both modes of transport, and a single mobile phone app, providing integrated bus and rail information in one place.

In 2018, the city plans to move to cloud-based ticketing for bus operations using contactless credit cards. The improvements follow the rapid introduction of smartcard ticketing and mobile phone-based ticketing, over the last 18 months.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “I’m delighted with this development, building on my ambition to introduce a ‘Bristol Smart Pass.’

“I have been determined to implement the next generation of smart ticketing across Bristol to enable vastly improved movement and access by public transport.

“Technology has moved at such a pace over the past three years, with the vast majority of us now using smartphones as an integral part of our day to day lives. While ensuring it does not exclude anyone, it makes total sense to focus developments around harnessing these new smart systems which will soon make ‘Oyster card’ type ticketing yesterday’s technology.

“We shall see major changes for the better over the next three years, building on the encouraging increase in the number of people using buses to move around the city since the introduction of fairer fares, better and cleaner buses and residents parking schemes. I remain committed to working in partnership with First Bristol and other providers to greatly enhance our transport options and look forward to seeing these innovative improvements rolled out across the city region.”