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Local governments need to recognise the value of buses

Local bus passenger journeys in England outside of London have fallen by 3.2% over the last year, leading to reduced routes and services, which in turn further deters passengers from taking the bus. It’s something we’ve been keeping a close eye on at ITSO Ltd because buses play a crucial role in connecting people with their local communities. They also control pollution by reducing the number of cars on the roads, so it’s important that local governments take action now to meet bus passengers’ needs and continue to encourage the use of buses.

According to the Department for Transport’s Annual Bus Statistics, between March 2017 and March 2018 local bus fares in England rose by 2.8% and have increased by 71% since 2005. To maintain passenger numbers and satisfaction on buses, prices need to be kept affordable for the public.

But how can this be done? One solution is mobile ticketing. As technology continues to develop, we are moving ever closer to a cashless society. 2017 was the first year that card transactions surpassed cash payments: 13.2 billion transactions were made using a debit or credit card compared with 13.1 billion cash payments. Just as we expect to be able to pay in shops and restaurants with a tap of our card on the payment terminal, passengers want to be able to use contactless cards to pay for public transport.

Implementing smart-ticketing technology like ITSO on Mobile on UK bus networks will involve relatively minimal costs and disruptions for operators of the 95% of buses that already have ITSO infrastructure in place. Mobile-ticketing will ultimately eliminate the costs of producing paper tickets and physical smartcards, while also reducing the time spent at each bus stop, waiting for passengers to find the right cash for their ticket. Passengers will instead be able to tap their smartphone on the ticket reader and seamlessly access the bus, reducing total journey times, potentially allowing for more passenger journeys per day. These cost-savings could in turn be passed on to the passenger.

With mobile ticketing, it is also easier for passengers to choose from a range of ticket types such as weekly, monthly or yearly season tickets, which could ultimately save them money and encourage them to continue using the bus.

At ITSO Ltd, we are committed to working with bus operators to provide the best possible experience for their passengers and keep up with today’s demand for everything to be available at the touch of a smartphone.