'Tap on, tap off' on buses

July 25 2022

How you use the bus has radically changed. First Bus have a new system where you “tap on” with the bank card at the on-board card reader and now you also need to “tap off” when you get off at your stop. The correct fare will then automatically be deducted from your account which you will be able to see updated from the end of the day.

If you don’t “tap off” you’ll likely be charged for the whole trip to the end of the line. So “tap off” and just pay for the stops you use.

As well as being a quicker transaction which keeps the bus moving, there are benefits for the customer. If you take three or more journeys in one day the price will be capped at £5.30. If you were to take three bus trips in one day in Bristol under the new system, one trip will cost you £2.20, a second trip will take your daily cost up to £4.30, and three or more will bring your total to £5.30 - the highest daily cost you can pay.

It’s also capped across the week at £23 for seven days £21 for 5 days.

You have to use the same bank card each time to make the cap work – and you are warned not to tap your wallet with all your cards in it because the automatic system might deduct from any debit or credit card.

Older people with a bus pass just tap their card on the card reader once. It’s still free.

The scheme only works for adult fares. If you want to buy other tickets including child, student or group, you will need to buy them from the iPoint machines at Metrobus stops, or on the First Bus app before you board the bus.

First Bus reckon that a bus spends 25 to 30 percent of its time at bus stops. This quicker system of payment should cut that wait time by at least half.

A similar system working across all forms of transport has been working for some years in London. Bristol is still some way from getting this system to integrate across local trains, ferries and buses in spite of the fact that more than 30 percent of Bristol’s workforce travels in from outside the city each day.