Without changing the ticketing systems and the bus fares structure, the overall project would not deliver the full benefits that are possible under this transformation.
The second biggest source of bus delays, after traffic congestion, is the payment process at bus stops. Payment of fares by cash is still commonplace, slowing down the boarding time. Even when using the Leap Card, the complexity of payment stages means a high percentage of passengers have to interact with the driver, with resultant delays at bus stops. At busy bus stops these delays can be for several minutes. Multiply by the number of busy stops on a route, and those delays accumulate to add significantly to the overall journey time.
Under BusConnects we will simplify and streamline the process of paying for bus journeys. We want to make the fare system simpler, and we also want to make movement between different bus services seamless and easy, without financial penalty. This will require a move to either a “tag-on” and “tag-off” facility, or a single “flat fare” approach in order to reduce the need to interact with the driver for fare payments.
As part of this process, cashless operation will be introduced on all buses, to remove the delays caused by cash payments. Over the next few years, the transition to a cashless regime will become easier. BusConnects will incorporate the latest developments in account-based ticketing technology, allowing use of credit / debit cards or mobile devices as a convenient means of payment. This will also allow integration with other transport payments such as parking facilities and bicycle hire.