Liverpool becomes first outside London to roll out contactless city-wide, as authority considers franchising options
All buses across Liverpool will be accepting contactless payments from the end of July.
This makes it the first city region outside London to offer contactless on every bus.
Stagecoach went contactless in July 2017, and Arriva followed last month. The other bus operators in the Liverpool City Region Bus Alliance are getting the technology thanks to £1.05m funding from the Transforming Cities Fund.
It comes as Liverpool City Region Combined Authority considers its options for either franchising, an Enhanced Partnership, or continuing the existing Bus Alliance, as laid out in the Bus Services Act. A recommendation on the preferred option will be given in early 2020.
It is running a 'Big Bus Debate' with the public, the first phase of which was an online survey about buses. The next phase will be detailed face-to-face surveys.
Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram says: “The Bus Alliance has allowed us to make good progress in modernising our bus network. But now, with the powers we have through the Bus Services Act 2017, we can move ahead at speed, beyond incremental improvements.
“People need to feel that our buses work for them, and so we are analysing the results of our Big Bus Debate carefully, before we make a decision on the long-term future of the bus system in our region.”
The new contactless ticket machines support the Bus Alliance's wider punctuality improvements, working with traffic signals to prioritise buses that are running late. This is currently being trialled on routes between the city centre and the airport.
Contactless payments are also available on the city's railway network and the Mersey Tunnels. An online portal for buying tickets will be introduced later this year.
The Bus Alliance has also introduced new better-value fares, wi-fi on all bus services and enhanced cleaning regimes.
As a result, Liverpool has seen a 15% increase in fare-paying passenger journeys since 2013-14, bucking the national trend of decline, and passenger satisfaction is at 91% in Transport Focus's annual survey – the joint highest of any metropolitan area.