More taps than Fred Astaire – bus company sells a million contactless tickets

National Express West Midlands has had a million contactless payments since introducing the technology onto all its buses in April.

The bus operator’s records show that on Monday 17 September, an unknown customer got on the bus at 1703 at Saltley trading estate and made the millionth contactless transaction.

The ticketing system shows that this passenger travelled nine times that day. Automatically, they would have been charged no more than an adult daysaver all day, so that’s just over 50p a trip.

The West Midlands is the only big metropolitan area outside London where bus customers paying by contactless using their bank card or on their phones have their fares automatically capped at the daysaver rate.

Tom Stables, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, says: “We know this is what our bus customers want. We trialled this system on a few routes in Coventry in February. In just the first two days, a fifth of adult cash passengers switched to contactless. And since the summer, we have seen the number of contactless trips per day double.

“People like it because they don’t even have to work out what ticket they need. They just tap a bank card on the reader and it works out the fare for them. The first tap pays for one trip. Then, however many more trips you make that day, you will never be charged more than an adult day ticket. It really is that easy – and it’s always the same price as the adult cash fares.”

Using this new technology is also good news for all customers – however they want to pay for their ticket. It means passengers can get on the bus more quickly, without having to search for change.

This saves each customer just a few seconds. But across a long West Midlands bus route with over 100 bus stops, those seconds add up. In cities, the time taken up by passengers getting on a bus makes up between a quarter and a third of the bus’s total journey time. So by introducing contactless, National Express West Midlands could speed up bus journey times by up to 10%.