• Customers can now pay for bus journeys using contactless credit or debit cards, Apple Pay or Android Pay
• Faster boarding, secure payments and no need to carry cash
• North East customers now have access to similar technology as London bus passengers
• Tackling traffic congestion is a vital next step says Stagecoach
Stagecoach bus passengers in the north east of England can now pay for their travel using state-of-the-art contactless technology, it was announced today (21 December 2016).
They are amongst the first bus passengers in the country outside London to benefit from the new system, which allows customers to pay with contactless credit or debit cards as well as Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Contactless is now live on all Stagecoach buses across the north east – benefitting local passengers who make around 65million journeys through the year.
New dedicated ticket machines have been installed on the fleet of more than 470 buses and coaches and thousands of bus passengers a day will be able to benefit from the new technology, which will help speed up boarding and mean customers don’t have to carry cash.
This latest announcement means that bus customers in the north east now have access to many of the same technology solutions as passengers in London, including mobile ticketing, real-time journey information and integrated smart ticketing.
However, like other UK regions, the north east faces a growing problem of traffic congestion. Statistics by campaign group Greener Journeys show that average traffic speeds have fallen to below 10mph in Britain’s busiest towns and cities, significantly impacting bus travel with journey times currently increasing by 10% per decade.
Steve Walker, Managing Director at Stagecoach North East, said “The introduction of contactless is yet another demonstration of the practical improvements bus operators are making for passengers. This is a new fast, easy and secure way for customers to pay for bus travel and complements the many other technology solutions we have introduced recently.
“More of our customers are using contactless cards to pay for coffee, sandwiches and many other day-to-day activities. Transport is a key part of people’s lives and this is another great reason for people to choose greener and smarter bus travel.
“However, the delivery of high-quality bus services is a shared responsibility. While we are investing in the parts of the service that we control, we need local authorities and our politicians to play their part and tackle the single biggest issue facing bus passengers - traffic congestion.
“Congestion on our roads slows down journeys, pushes up fares, reduces air quality and undermines the work of operators to deliver improvements and attract more people to bus travel. We need politicians to step up and tackle this growing problem now, to allow our local bus networks to flourish.”
Councillor Michael Mordey, Portfolio Holder for City Services, Sunderland City Council, said: “We’re already seeing buses benefit and help the environment with green technology, and now here’s a new feature to help many thousands of passengers. As people buy tickets online and on smartphones, I am sure it’s going to help make bus travel more convenient for more people and help make bus travel more efficient. Many, many other parts of our daily lives see us using contactless payments so there’s no reason why the buses and public transport in our region should be any different.”
Following the recent introduction of m-ticketing technology, the new contactless system is the latest multi-million-pound investment by Stagecoach in new digital tools for bus passengers to make it a more attractive and stress-free option than commuting by car.
Within the past year Stagecoach North East has introduced integrated smart ticketing in Newcastle, Sunderland, South Shields, Teesside and Hartlepool, as well as a brand new website and smartphone app which allow customers to receive real-time journey information, and the recent launch of mobile ticketing in the region.
The company has also invested £37m over the past five years in brand new cleaner, greener vehicles for local communities.
The North East has among the highest level of bus use across the UK, and national passenger satisfaction survey results showed that bus customers in Tyne and Wear rated operators highly for overall satisfaction and value for money.
Recent research by the Campaign for Better Transport shows that between 2014 and 2016, just under £40million of public sector investment was cut from local bus services in the North East. An independent panel which examined plans to introduce bus franchising in Tyne and Wear deemed that the proposed scheme was neither economically viable nor the best use of public money.