Perth-based Stagecoach, Britain’s biggest bus operator, announced it will introduce contactless bus travel on all of its regional bus services across the UK by the end of 2018.
The £12 million initiative will allow passengers to pay for their travel with a contactless credit or debit card as well as Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Stagecoach said it will be the first major introduction of contactless technology on Britain’s buses outside of London and will benefit customers from major urban areas to rural and island communities.
Stagecoach launched the first stage of the project with the contactless system now live on all of Stagecoach’s 180 buses in Oxfordshire.
It covers Oxford City services, commuter routes into Oxford and Oxford Tube express services which run to and from London 24 hours a day.
The facility will be rolled out to Ashford in Kent and the Tyne and Wear areas by the end of this year with Greater Manchester following in January 2017.
Stagecoach said that by the end of 2018, the state-of-the-art technology will be live on all of the firm’s 7,200 buses in England, Scotland and Wales.
Robert Montgomery, Managing Director of Stagecoach UK Bus, said: “Bus travel is experiencing a complete transformation.
“Major investment by Stagecoach in new digital technology is making it easier than ever to catch the bus.
“From contactless technology and new apps to greener vehicles with the latest environmental performance, buses are the simpler, smarter and greener mobility solution.
“But to maximise the benefit of this investment, we also need bold and urgent action by transport authorities to tackle the scourge of road congestion that is holding back bus reliability.”
Stagecoach said around 76 million contactless cards are now in issue in the UK – a rise of nearly 40% in the past year.
It said £929.8 million was spent in the UK in October 2015 alone using a contactless card.
Contactless transactions are already accepted on London’s 9,600 buses.