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Transdev to launch pilot mobile payment scheme in East Lancashire
BUS company Transdev will this month launch a pilot scheme for passengers to pay fares by mobile phone as part of the £40m Pennine Reach scheme to improve bus services in Blackburn, Darwen and Hyndburn.
It is the first stage in trialling contactless payment as the hi-tech project looks to slash journey times between major towns.
It is expected that he scheme, approved by the government last week, will by March 2016 cut bus journey times between town centres by five to 10 minutes.
It will link the new £5m bus stations in Blackburn and Accrington with new bus priority lanes, major improvements around Ewood and Whitebirk and junction improvements with public transport priority.
There will be major highway upgrades and a system where buses ‘talk’ to traffic lights to get green light priority.
Transdev’s marketing director Nigel Eggleton welcomed the scheme as a major boost to bus travel in East Lancashire, keeping fares down and hoping that contactless payment with mobiles, bank and smart travel cards could reduce queues.
Bob Tufnell, manager of Accrington’s M and M Coaches, feared the emphasis on expensive new technology could force smaller operators out of business.
Mr Eggleton said: “This radical improvement to the quality of public transport is something Transdev has been looking forward to for years.
“Pennine Reach will bring faster and more convenient journeys to the area.
A saving of six minutes on a round trip between Blackburn and Accrington would enable a more frequent service with the same resources or a saving, assisting Transdev in offering value for money fares. The package also includes the extension of real time information.
“This system allows information to be offered at the bus stop, on the web and on a mobile phone and ‘next stop’ announcements to be made on board.
“This investment gives bus operators the confidence to invest in new buses. New methods of making paying for travel similar to London’s Oyster Smartcard, payment by mobile phone and contactless bank card are possible. We’re to experiment towards the end of the month.”
But Mr Tufnell had reservations about the scheme. He said: “The highway improvements are welcome but the concentration on expensive technology so buses speed through lights may be too much for smaller operators, forcing some out of business.”
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