First trials new tap-on, tap-off in Wales

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First will trial accurate distance-based fares for tap-on, tap-off users in and around Bridgend. FIRST CYMRU

First Bus has embarked on a new pilot in partnership with Ticketer to simplify its existing tap-on, tap-off fare capping system for customers. The pilot is taking place in the First Cymru operating area of Bridgend in Wales, with the help of Transport for Wales and Bridgend County Council and will see adult fares calculated based on the direct distance travelled (as the crow flies) to make a journey in a UK bus industry first.

A journey can consist of a passenger boarding multiple buses, within a 30 minute transfer time. The passenger’s fare will then be calculated to the exact distance (nearest metre) between their first boarding and final alighting bus stop.

When a passenger taps on they’re charged a minimum fare of £1.60, which covers the first 2km of their journey. If they travel further, they are charged based on the distance they travel up to a maximum of £5. The daily cap is lowered the more often the customer travels across the same week, ensuring that the maximum a customer can pay for a week’s bus travel is £21 regardless of the distance they travel or the number of journeys they make.

First says the scheme is designed to offer customers flexible and ‘fairer’ fares and has the potential not only to save them money in the short term, but to offer great value for money in the long term. Calculating fares to the exact metre is a much fairer way of calculating the cost for customers, especially those who may pay higher fares because of their geographical location between fare stages, the company said.

Simon Pearson, Chief Commercial Officer at First Bus UK explained: “This pilot has the potential to change the game in the fare capping and pricing space and is part of our nationwide rollout of tap-on, tap-off across our UK operations. We are excited to see the results of the pilot and more importantly how it goes down with our customers. This pilot will run for an initial three months but has the potential to be extended and could be rolled out in other areas in the future if successful.

“As we go through the current cost of living crisis, it important to us to continue to innovate to find ways to save our customers money and bus remains great value as a travel option of choice for everyone.”

The pilot is running on all First Cymru’s buses in the county except for longer-distance Cymru Clipper Services which will continue to be charged in the usual way.

This new system has been developed with ticketing retail partner Ticketer. Ticketer’s founder John Clarfelt added: “We are really excited to have been able to deliver this truly innovative way of calculating fares for First. Simplifying fares for passengers is a key priority for us and our customers, and we are proud to have worked in partnership with First to introduce this novel approach to fares to the market.”