In May 2017, we were approached by a number of Bus Operators to implement a rollout of a Contactless Payment Solution which could be used to replace cash for Bus Operators and enable a range of transport initiatives. Leveraging our earlier work on multiple ITSO* - based smart schemes, we were asked to identify new opportunities for use of contactless payment and re-assess the feasibility of the Contactless Payment Solution vision.
We identified a potential product and instigated a trial with two bus operators. Our recent trials have determined that a low cost-efficient solution is viable and has been very well received by customers and operators. We are in the process of taking this forward to the next stage.
Contactless payment for travel in London has proved popular and has grown steadily since its initial launch in 2013. Today over 40% of TfL pay as you go journeys are made using contactless payment cards. It is attractive for passengers because they don’t need change, they don’t need to know the exact fare and daily fares are capped. They just touch their credit/debit card as they board the bus.
Recent work by the UK Cards Association supported by the Department for Transport and Operators has established a simple payment model and scheme with capping which could be implemented by operators and transport authorities in the UK.
Bus journeys are taking longer due to congestion and slow boarding
Paying with cash is slow & old fashioned. Cash handling has economic implications for operators.
Longer dwell times at bus-stops increase pollution
Passengers want convenience of using cards & smartphones
Oyster style smart schemes are very expensive.
ETM’s (Electronic Ticket Machines) using cEMV as cash replacement, still requires interaction with driver, taking the same time as exact fare
How Our Solution Helped
Smartran identified a new cutting-edge disruptive technology, innovative business model which offers cost effective frictionless travel capability. Smartran is developing this proposition further and is conducting trials with a small number of bus operators outside London, to prove this new contactless payment solution for bus ticketing with daily, weekly and multi-day capping. There is a low capital cost and only a small service charge on each validator and customer payment transaction. There are no servers or network equipment required at the depot or bus company offices.
Bus services and fare structures are clearly different outside of London and the trial proposition is designed for private bus operators with zonal or staged fare schemes. The early stages of the trial consisted of registered users only, so that the data could be tracked and customers supported more easily.
Improved Efficiency and Punctuality
What also became clear during the trials was that operators reported improved efficiency and punctuality due to much faster boarding times (up to 9 times faster than cash!) plus increased passenger uptake. We also surveyed 300 regular customers on the trials and had excellent feedback.