Dwell time at bus stops is being reduced as passenger increasingly opt for cashless payments, Go-Ahead has revealed.
The operator has seen cash payments on its regional buses drop from 53% of transactions to just 23% in the last three years as contactless cards, smart phone payments and smart cards become passengers’ preference.
That means approximately 75% of passengers now pay digitally at Go-Ahead’s nine regional bus companies across England, and has seen savings of up to three minutes at busy stops.
Predictably, the shift was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic when cash handling was discouraged. The pandemic saw a drop of 35% in cash payments UK wide, according to UK finance. Previously it had been falling by 15% annually.
“Customers want a quick, simple way to pay when they catch a bus,” says Go-Ahead’s Commercial Director Mark Anderson. “While digital payments have been increasing in popularity for years, the COVID-19 pandemic has proven to be a tipping point.
“New technology is helping us to speed up bus journeys by cutting crucial seconds and minutes off dwell times at stops.
“We know, though, that digital payments can be challenging for some. We’re working with customers’ groups to ensure that easy payment options are available for everybody.”
The operator is now introducing tap-on, tap-off technology, which automatically calculates fares and is predicted to accelerate the shift away from cash further. Such transactions topped five million this month in Brighton and Hove, Crawley, Southampton, the Isle of Wight and Gateshead.
Go-Ahead says it plans to have 60% of buses installed with tap-on, tap-off technology by September.