Two biggest operators, Stagecoach and Arriva, are already contactless and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority is providing funding for the rest to follow suit. Tony McDonough reports
Every bus in the Liverpool city region will be equipped to take contactless payments by July 31.
Merseyside’s two biggest bus operators, Stagecoach and Arriva, already accept contactless payments on all their vehicles. Stagecoach made the switch in July 2017 with Arriva following suit this year.
Now, thanks to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority earmarking £1.05m from the Transforming Cities Fund, all other operators will take contactless payments by the end of this month.
As well as making paying for journeys more convenient, contactless payments are up to seven times quicker than cash transactions, helping speed up boarding times and supporting bus punctuality.
The upgraded ticket machines will also support wider bus punctuality improvements, working with traffic signals to prioritise buses that are running late. This is currently being trialled on routes that run between Liverpool city centre and the airport.
Contactless improvements are part of a wider city region drive towards smart ticketing and more flexible payment options. Upgrades to the Mersey Tunnels saw contactless technology introduced in April and the rail network allows for contactless payments at all staffed stations.
An online portal for purchasing tickets is set to be introduced later this year, with a staged roll out of products. These initiatives have helped the Liverpool city region buck the national trend of falling passenger numbers, with a 15% increase in fare paying passenger journeys since 2013/14).
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor, Steve Rotheram, said: “The roll out of contactless technology is yet another step in the right direction as we seek to create a Liverpool city region transport system that is fit for the 21st century – and it brings us into line with cities such as London.
“The bus alliance has allowed us to make good progress in modernising our bus network – but now, with the powers we have through the Bus Services Act 2017 – we can move ahead at speed, beyond incremental improvements.”