First completes UK-wide rollout of tap-on, tap-off

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The ‘TOTO’ technology allows First to charge more personalised fares to customers based on distance travelled. FIRST

The First Bus and Ticketer partnership has led to a first-of-its-kind pilot in the UK using tap-on, tap-off technology

First Bus has completed a UK wide rollout of tap-on, tap-off (TOTO) ticketing technology across its entire fleet of more than 4,000 buses, in collaboration with partners Ticketer and Littlepay, the first major UK bus operator to achieve the feat thanks to an investment of around £1 million, alongside further funding from several local authority partners which has helped to accelerate the roll-out.

The technology enables customers to make multiple journeys, whilst ensuring they never pay more than the daily or weekly cap. First says its distance-based charging structure makes pricing fairer, allowing more personalisation, while tap-on, tap-off reduces dwell times. Furthermore, the technology allows First Bus to get more data than ever about its customers’ travel habits and demand for services, enabling the company to make data-led decisions in the future that are based around its customers’ needs. Access to enhanced data around travel patterns and customer behaviours can also be used to inform fleet management and improve operational efficiencies.

The partnership between Ticketer and First Bus led to its UK pilot of TOTO technology in Bridgend, Wales, where fares were calculated based on the distance travelled by each customer in what was believed to be a UK first for the industry. Simon Pearson, Chief Commercial Officer at First Bus UK, said: “This is a landmark moment for the business and our customers. We are delighted to be the first major operator to offer the benefits of TOTO technology. We are always working hard to bring our customers the best possible value for money and to align bus as a valued and vital option as part of people’s everyday transport mix.”

Richard Blackburn-Hughes, Chief Commercial Officer at Ticketer, added: “We have been really pleased to partner with First Bus in rolling out tap-on, tap-off travel across its network, bringing frictionless travel to millions of passenger journeys every week across the UK. Passengers are already benefitting from faster boarding and gaining confidence that they are getting the best fare, but this is just the start. This infrastructure will enable further innovation in fare models and network organisation in the future.”

Sarah McLaughlin, Business Development Manager at Littlepay, said: “We are very proud of our strong partnership with First Group and Ticketer. We’ve had an exciting journey together over the years and are delighted to be supporting First Bus with the expansion of TOTO across its entire fleet. The success of this deployment is a testament to the power of partnerships in making public transport more accessible, by removing obstacles and giving riders the reassurance that they are always getting the best value fares.”

First says that Local Transport Authority partnerships have been key to its successful UK-wide rollout, with 42% of funding coming from partners with First Bus then providing the other 58% of funding investment in the technology. Funding has been provided by councils in Stoke, Leicester, Portsmouth, the City of York, plus Cornwall Combined Authority, Norfolk County Council and the West of England Combined Authority.