Since 2017, First Bus has relied on Ticketer’s 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
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.
WHAT THIS MEANS FOR FIRST BUS
FAIRER PRICING STRUCTURE
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 don’t 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.
DISTANCE-BASED PRICE CAPPING
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 passenger’s 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 don’t 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.