First Bus overhauls fares structure and introduces TOTO payments across West Yorkshire, UK

Posted: 3 December 2021 | | No comments yet

By overhauling the fares structure and introducing TOTO payments in West Yorkshire, First Bus hopes to encourage more people to travel by bus post-pandemic.

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First Bus has revealed a radical overhaul of its fares structure across West Yorkshire, UK, and the introduction of Tap On Tap Off (TOTO) payment technology on its buses.

All of the changes begin across the region on 13 December 2021 and have been developed from detailed analysis of passenger and purchasing data.

The new pricing creates a simpler, fairer, more flexible and cheaper choice of tickets. It has been devised to encourage more people to use the bus and as travel behaviour adapts following the pandemic, with work and leisure patterns changing.

The TOTO contactless system guarantees customers ultimate flexibility on the fare paid. It charges for a single journey and customers who make several bus trips each day on First West Yorkshire services will pay a maximum £5.20 on the first day, which then continues to reduce the more that they travel during a week.

To use TOTO, a person uses their contactless card or mobile at the ticket machine next to the driver but must ‘tap’ again on the new special card reader device when leaving the bus.

These developments by First Bus herald a transformational change and aid wider ambitions contained in West Yorkshire’s Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP).

The BSIP was compiled by West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) together with the region’s bus operators through the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance and submitted to the UK government at the end of October 2021. It outlines how bus services in the region will be made better through an Enhanced Partnership (EP), due to begin in April 2022.

Martin Hirst, Commercial Director of First West Yorkshire, said: “This is a fundamental change to our fares which brings benefits to the hundreds of thousands of people who travel with us across West Yorkshire every week. Our customers want a more personalised approach, with a cost related to paying for what they use, and a pricing system designed around their journey not operational processes, which has been the traditional approach to fares planning.”

Payment technology has been installed on First West Yorkshire’s fleet of close to 900 buses with investment of £850,000 in creating ‘London-style’ tap on/tap off ticketing across the region, which represents the biggest rollout of TOTO outside the capital.

“The introduction of Tap On Tap Off is another important step in simplifying journeys and will pave the way to an all-operator integrated system in the future,” Hirst added.

Prices for all tickets will be consistent across West Yorkshire to achieve equality between districts, and boundaries have been removed, enabling travel anywhere in the region with the same ticket.

The fares structure has been redesigned with the Single ticket as the base and all others calculated on a discount. Long-term tickets – such as monthly and annual – now relate more closely to the average cost per trip of other formats.

“Our new fares will encourage new users and those making infrequent journeys to see the great value of bus travel,” explained Hirst. “Regular customers have more options to fit their travel needs, and the majority will be able to take advantage of a reduced fare against what they paid previously.”