Ticketer has completed the national installation of over 5,500 contactless Electronic Ticket Machines (ETMs) for First Bus in record time. The entire First Bus fleet of 5,835 vehicles, from Cornwall to Aberdeen, now accepts mTickets and contactless payments.
The introduction of Ticketer contactless ETMs is part of a £19.3 million investment by First Bus aimed at improving the customer experience and to encourage customers to move from cash to digital transactions. It has been so successful that First Bus is now processing some 1.5 million contactless payments per month, with 33% of payments from its Aberdeen operating company already contactless. Mobile sales have also accelerated, and are now running at a rate of 1.5 million transactions per week.
Following the introduction of the new Ticketer ETMs, First Bus has seen its revenues rise significantly, and its margins increase very substantially. They have also noted a reduction in fraud due to machine reading of QR codes and the level of unrecovered funds from contactless payments has fallen to 0.1%, significantly below the industry average of 1.5%.
Other benefits First Bus are reporting include faster passenger boarding as well as improved scheduling decisions for service optimisation due to the big data generated by the ETMs. Built in Schedule Adherence enables drivers to be punctual with a countdown on the ticket machines to departure times. Passengers also benefit from the data from the ETMs as it is fed into the First Bus Travel Information app, providing real time information about bus service locations and vehicle tracking.
The Ticketer ETMs offer multiple payment options, from cash to mTickets with contactless flexibility offered through the payment service provider Littlepay. First Bus passengers can also now buy tickets on the First website, with a QR code sent to customers’ smartphones which are scanned as they board the bus.
The initial 4,000 vehicles were fitted, including two additional areas (Essex and Eastern Counties) following the successful initial roll out. The largest operating areas, West Yorkshire and Glasgow, with over 800 vehicles each, were completed over four weekends to keep downtime to an absolute minimum. Greater Manchester was the final First Bus operator to switch to Ticketer ETMs, delivered within 12 weeks from order to completion of rollout.