First rolls out ‘tap on, tap off’ across West Yorkshire

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‘London-style’ tap on, tap off technology is being fitted to all buses along with a revised fares system, allowing passengers more flexibility to travel in West Yorkshire

First Bus has revealed a radical overhaul of its fares structure across West Yorkshire and the introduction of tap on, tap off (TOTO) payment technology on its buses. The changes began across the region on 13 December and have been developed from detailed analysis of passenger and purchasing data.

The operator said that its new pricing structure creates a simpler, fairer, more flexible and cheaper choice of tickets. It has been devised to encourage more people to use the bus and as travel behaviour adapts following the pandemic with work and leisure patterns changing.
The TOTO contactless system should guarantee customers more flexibility on the fare by charging for a single journey, with customers who make several trips each day on First West Yorkshire’s services paying a maximum of £5.20 on the first day which then continues to reduce the more they travel during a week.

To use TOTO a passenger must remember to ‘tap’ again on the new special card reader device when leaving the bus.

Transforming services

The introduction of tap on, tap off by First is part of a transformational change and the wider ambitions contained in West Yorkshire’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). The BSIP was compiled by West Yorkshire Combined Authority together with the region’s operators through the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance and submitted to the Government at the end of October. It outlines how bus services in the region will be improved through an Enhanced Partnership (EP) due to begin in April 2022.

Martin Hirst, Commercial Director of First West Yorkshire, said: “This is a fundamental change to our fares which brings benefits to the hundreds of thousands of people who travel with us across West Yorkshire every week.

“Our customers want a more personalised approach, with a cost related to paying for what they use, and a pricing system designed around their journey not operational processes, which has been the traditional approach to fares planning.”

The payment technology has been installed on First West Yorkshire’s fleet of close to 900 buses, with investment of £850,000. “The introduction of tap on, tap off is another important step in simplifying journeys and will pave the way to an all-operator integrated system in the future,” added Martin.

As part of its aims to simplify bus travel for passengers across the region, prices for all tickets will be consistent across West Yorkshire to achieve equality between districts, and boundaries have been removed, enabling travel anywhere in the region with the same ticket. The fares structure has been redesigned with the single ticket as the base and all others calculated at a discount based on the single fare. Long-term tickets such as monthly and annual now relate more closely to the average cost per trip of other formats.

“Our new fares will encourage new users and those making infrequent journeys to see the great value of bus travel,” added Martin. “Regular customers have more options to fit their travel needs and the majority will be able to take advantage of a reduced fare against what they paid previously.”

Martin Hirst, Commercial Director of First West Yorkshire. FIRST