Harrogate District Chamber of Commerce News

IT’S A FIRST FOR THE NORTH

10 Dec 2018 by Ben Mansfield

BUS OPERATOR TRANSDEV BLAZEFIELD TO PILOT “SWIFT AND SIMPLE” CONTACTLESS FARE CAPPING IN GROUND-BREAKING TRIALS

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Winning bid secures Transport for the North funding to test ‘touch and go’ ticketing technology

Bus operator Transdev Blazefield is to be the first in the North of England to trial “touch and go” contactless fare capping on its services.

The Harrogate-based company has won financial backing from strategic transport body Transport for the North (TfN) to pilot the ground-breaking technology across bus routes in Yorkshire.

A successful competitive bid was submitted by Transdev for £50,000 worth of funding from Transport for the North’s “Innovation Initiative” package, created to deliver early benefits and opportunities to introduce new smart travel technology.

Transdev already offers contactless card payments on all its buses across Yorkshire, using the latest “Ticketer” ticket machines installed during 2018, with payments handled via the industry-leading “Littlepay” processing platform.

The Harrogate-based bus operator will now work in partnership with both suppliers to conduct parallel tests of two types of contactless fare capping on selected bus services in Yorkshire – one using a separate card reader, and the other using existing ticket machines.

Transdev Blazefield CEO Alex Hornby said: “I’m very proud that we will be the first bus operator to bring contactless capping to buses in the North of England.

“We have a strong track record of innovation using up-to-the-minute technology and this is yet another example of our determination to attract new customers and add further convenience to our valued existing users.

 “Our customers have reacted very positively to the convenience and flexibility of contactless payments on all our buses across Yorkshire, and we’re now looking forward to taking the next step on our journey by pioneering contactless fare capping.

“This amazing ticketing technology represents a logical next step for us, as it promises to deliver guaranteed best value for money for our customers every time they travel, while helping us to provide an on-time service by speeding up boarding times at bus stops.”

Contactless payment capping is already an integral part of everyday life for thousands of commuters and visitors in London, where users of contactless payment or ‘Oyster’ stored value travel cards already benefit from maximum daily fare caps on Transport for London’s bus, Tube and Overground services. It’s now hoped the Transdev trials will lead to even greater benefits for customers across the North.

Ticketer Manging Director John Clarfelt said: “We are delighted to work with Transdev and Transport for the North to deliver this trial.

“Our market leading technology will enable customers with a contactless bank card to benefit, as they will not need to choose a specific type of ticket before they board the bus. Instead, they will simply ‘touch in’ and ‘touch out’ at the start and finish of their journey and their weekly fares will be capped at the correct amount for the journeys made, based on the cost of a weekly unlimited travel ticket.”

Transport for the North’s Integrated and Smart Travel Director Alastair Richards said: “We are working to introduce initiatives that will make travelling on public transport easier to find out about, and quicker and easier to pay for, right across the North. Piloting different approaches to contactless capping is a key part of our Integrated Smart Travel Programme.

“We have awarded a grant to Transdev, who were the successful bidders for funding from our Innovation Initiatives package, to demonstrate ‘Touch On, Touch Off’ (ToTo) capability in a live environment. In parallel, we have also commissioned research to supplement the understanding of the ToTo technology.

“The outcomes from this trial will develop our vision for contactless card payments on buses across the North, supported by a ‘Fair Price Promise’ for customers, to ensure they pay the right price for the journeys they make. The results will also help bus operators in choosing between different ticketing systems on the market now and in the future.

“As well as providing a much-improved experience for customers, this new technology also ensures operators are reimbursed accurately. It’s a win – win for public transport in the North.”

The first trials of contactless tap on tap off ticketing are expected to begin on selected Transdev Blazefield bus routes across Yorkshire in February 2019.