First Bus rolls out Ticketer Tap On / Tap Off technology on over 4,000 buses, improving the customer experience and providing fairer pricing

First Bus is the first major UK bus operator to introduce Tap On / Tap Off (TOTO) technology across its entire fleet of 4,000+ buses. Passengers can now enjoy more personalised fares based on the distance they travel, reduced queues and quicker boarding times. 

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The Challenge

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. 5 years ago, the business led the way in accepting contactless card payments on all its services. Its goal has always been to enhance customer convenience and value for money, while continuously improving the customer experience. 

To further reduce dwell time and make customer journeys faster, First Bus required a solution that could offer operational advantages as well as passenger benefits. 

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The Outcome

The team at Ticketer collaborated with First Bus in successfully deploying over 4,000 Tap On / Tap Off Readers to operations across the UK. A trial in Portsmouth paved the way for the Leicester area rollout, which led to the complete UK implementation. An impressive 22 million trips have been made using Tap On / Tap Off technology, providing millions of people with a frictionless travel experience. 

The Tap On / Tap Off Readers have been a game-changer in Bath, with 40% of adult transactions processed within the first six months of the rollout. Across the UK, the Tap On / Tap Off Readers are helping to reduce dwell times for passengers by enabling speedy boarding. 

Background Information 

Since 2017, First Bus has relied on Ticketers Electronic Ticket Machines (ETMs) to keep its over 4,000 buses and 1.1m customers per day moving. Through its long-standing partnership with Ticketer, First Bus has achieved several industry firsts, including deploying the largest Tap On / Tap Off Reader implementation across its entire fleet and rolling out mass QR codes. 

To enhance its understanding of customer habits and increase bus ridership, First Bus sought a solution that could unlock data insights to drive operational efficiencies. With customers demanding great value for money and quicker boarding, Tap On / Tap Off Readers were the perfect solution to meet these needs. 

“It’s been an amazing journey with our partners at Ticketer, and we're proud to be the first operator with national reach to have fitted our full fleet with the hardware needed to make distance-based fare capping a reality for our customers. Launching capped fares is a game changer for our customers and removes one of the barriers to using the bus. It also positions us well to expand to multi-operator capping across the UK over the coming year.”

Owen Hughes, Head of Digital & Retail Development at First Bus UK

Our approach 

The Ticketer team collaborated with First Bus to launch its new technology, starting with a pilot route in Portsmouth and expanding across Leicester in 2021. Following successful trials, over 4,000 buses across the UK have been equipped with the Tap On / Tap Off technology, making First Bus the first major UK bus operator to achieve this milestone across its entire fleet. Since its implementation across the fleet, passengers can simply tap their payment card when they get on the bus and tap again when they get off – using either the on-board ETM or a Tap On / Tap Off Reader mounted on a pole. This eliminates the need for driver interaction, making boarding and alighting quicker and more convenient. Additionally, the Tap On / Tap Off Readers collect valuable operational data. 

Tap On / Tap Off technology offers customers unlimited travel on buses while never paying more than the daily or weekly cap. It also enables quick and easy boarding without the need to interact with the driver, and ensures passengers get the best price. 



First Bus’ customers only pay for the distance they travel without being confined by specific ticket types such as weeklies or 3-day tickets. Even better, new customers dont need to worry about what ticket to pick or if they have the correct change available  they can simply tap on and tap off and the best fare is automatically calculated for them. 


First Bus has partnered with Ticketer to launch distance-based price capping in Bridgend, Wales. This trial is the first of its kind and calculates a passengers fare against the exact distance between their first boarding and final alighting bus stop.  


Tap On / Tap Off allows First Bus to get more data than ever about its customers travel habits and demand for services. This enables the business to make data-led decisions around customer needs, helps inform fleet management, and makes operations more efficient. 


TOTO has also helped to reduce dwell times for passengers with quicker boarding where they dont need to speak to the driver. Within just six months of the launch, 40% of all adult journeys in Bath were made using Tap On / Tap Off technology. 


In Leicester, multi-operator capped contactless ticketing has been made available to First Leicester, Arriva and Centrebus customers. In the first year alone, 183,000 journeys saved customers a combined total of £131,000.  

Some of the things we have won


Received 'Most Innovative Public Transport Technology 2022' award, by the UK Transport Awards.

Winners of the 2022 Euro Bus Expo Innovation Challenge Bronze Award.

Winners of the 'ROSCO Silver Award for Contribution to Safer Driving' 2022

Profit Track 100 2021

Ranked in The Sunday Times BDO Profit Track 100, acknowledging the impressive performance and contributions of the featured companies to the economy and society during the pandemic

Transport Ticketing

Winner of the Transport Ticketing Awards 2021 'Digital Champion' Category

Ticketer Award Megabuyte

Listed as 3rd in the Megabuyte Emerging Stars Awards which recognise the top 25 best-performing scale-up Companies of the Year in the UK, for industry-specific software

Ones to Watch award

Named as “One to Watch” in the European Business Awards

Ticketer Award Thames Valley

Thames Valley Chamber of Commerce Business of the Year & High Growth Business of the Year

Gold Winner of the Coach and Bus Innovation Challenge 2019 for our passenger app Kazoot

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