Unlimited travel and always the best fare, as contactless ‘Tap & Cap’ arrives in Southampton on all First City Red services from today (6 August 2020)

The deployment in Southampton is the largest conurbation to date to use the system.

Reducing boarding times and fuss-free travel, the new system also accepts Express Mode for Apple Pay, so customers can pay for their fare by just tapping their iPhone or Apple watch.

This is another COVID-related safety upgrade as First continues to encourage passengers to use cashless payment and “only use cash as a last resort.”

While capacity still remains restricted to keep passengers safe, First says it has many more seats available than in recent weeks, in line with safe onboard social distancing restrictions.

Using technology supplied by Ticketer and Littlepay, the launch follows successful trials and roll-outs of the system in Aberdeen and Doncaster, bringing London-style fare capping to the regions.

And, unlike on Transport for London routes where a heavily-subsidised flat-rate-any-distance fare has to be used due to technical limitations, the system in Southampton offers a discount on multiple journeys within the zone.

And, in a move to encourage take-up, using ‘Tap & Cap’ all day makes it even cheaper than the already discounted traditional day ticket.

Operational savings, by reducing dwell times at bus stops, will be a major boost if the operator can persuade people to use the system.

Marketing campaign sets out the ease of system and discount compared with a day ticket

‘Tap & Cap’ adds value

‘Tap & Cap’ makes paying for bus journeys extremely straightforward. Bus users tap their contactless bank card or a contactless-enabled device on a Ticketer contactless card reader as they board buses within the Southampton City Zone.

Ticketer’s readers connect to transit payment processor Littlepay’s platform to seamlessly aggregate fares, apply fare caps and process payments.

Customers enjoy a smooth, really convenient payment experience.

They are guaranteed the cheapest on-bus fare with the new ‘Tap & Cap’ day fare, launching at just £3 for a single day, no matter how often they make a bus journey within the zone.

‘Tap & Cap’ users won’t need to tell the driver their destination or wait for a ticket, which helps to reduce customer and driver interaction and speed up boarding.

This enables an easier flow of customers on to buses, so they can more easily adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Using a First Bus traveller portal provided by Littlepay, passengers using ‘Tap & Cap’ can track the journeys and payments they have made and see where they have saved.

Giles Fearnley, Managing Director at First Bus said: “The launch of Tap & Cap in Southampton marks another important milestone in our journey to make bus travel simpler for our customers.

“This follows successful launches of Tap & Cap in Aberdeen and Doncaster over the last year, where it has proven extremely popular with customers.

“Tap & Cap gives customers the confidence to know they will always get the best value fare and makes our buses more accessible than ever, at a time when customers need access to increasingly flexible options to meet their changing travel requirements.

“Combined with the recent updates to our app, our new Space Checker tool and our pilot of pre-bookable services in the West of England, First Bus continues to be at the forefront of continuing to make public transport safe and simple.”

City Red Operations Manager Mark Lovell (L) and Managing Director Marc Reddy (R) mark the launch of Tap & Cap in Southampton

Amin Shayan, CEO of Littlepay, said: “We have a longstanding relationship with First Bus and we are happy to see them utilising more of our technology to bring passengers added value.

“Contactless payments are a vital measure helping to eliminate contact with cash and ‘Tap & Cap’ is a great way of ensuring passengers access best-value fares.”

John Clarfelt, CEO at Ticketer adds: “We are committed to enabling Account Based Systems as the next generation of payment for mobility services.

“It’s more than just a technology; it is a new customer-relationship model that brings an incredible user experience.”

Express Mode for Apple Pay

At the same time as launching Tap & Cap, City Red will introduce a new innovation with added convenience for customers using Apple Pay. Express Mode for Apple Pay means customers with Apple Pay can now access City Red bus services and pay for their ticket using their iPhone or Apple Watch.

There is no need to wake or unlock the device, open an app or use Face ID or Touch ID.

Customers will now be able to enjoy the true ‘tap-and-go’ convenience of Express Mode for Apple Pay on iPhone and Apple Watch by holding their device close to the reader, which will help make boarding even faster.

For customers using Face ID on iPhone, Express Mode for Apple Pay has the additional advantage of allowing customers to keep their face covering on while boarding the bus.

There are plans to launch Express Mode across other First Bus networks before the end of the year.

About First Bus

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. It says: “Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators.

“Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks. We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience.

“We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland.

Safety during the coronavirus pandemic

The operator was the first to introduce seat markings and is carrying out a fleet-wide enhanced cleaning regime to protect against Coronavirus.

This includes the use of long-lasting anti-viral sanitiser Zoono Z71, which is applied every 28 days and has been proven to kill Coronavirus.

Its recent First Bus App and website innovations also enable customers to plan ahead, see upfront what capacity is available on board, and to track our buses on a map.

Good ventilation and the uptake in use of mandatory face coverings by customers are other factors that help to keep travel safe for customers.

To find out more about ongoing safety precautions being carried out by First Bus, visit https://www.firstgroup.com/help-and-support/coronavirus-information