The popularity of mTickets on public transport has seen a major increase with different companies introducing mobile apps and ticket systems.
The move may make things easier for commuters – but drivers in Leeds still face snarled-up roads.
Most people nowadays own and use a smartphone regularly. Transport companies have seen this as an opportunity to increase the number of people using public transport.
First Bus Leeds, the city’s largest bus company, introduced their mobile ticket app last year designed for people on the go. An estimated 100,000 new commuters in West Yorkshire can now use their smartphones to purchase tickets.
What is the UK Bus mTickets app?
This app allows you to buy and load bus tickets on to your phone.
Once you have purchased a ticket, you show the mTicket on your phone to the bus driver and he will accept it just like any other. This mTicket will replace the paper ticket, but it will still be checked for validity.
There is no minimum number of tickets to purchase, though you cannot purchase multiple tickets for friends and family.
The first time you buy an mTicket, you will be asked to set up an account and submit your payment card details. Once this is complete, the mTicket will go into your mTicket wallet until you want to travel, when you just have to activate it.
Further details such as how long the ticket is valid for will be on the mTicket on the phone.
When the mTicket expires it will automatically go into the ‘Expired’ folder on the wallet and cannot be used again.
First Leeds will raise their fare prices starting on Sunday 16 October 2016.
Time is precious
In a bid to promote the use of their mobile app and make busy boarding times faster, First Bus Leeds are selling paper tickets to passengers for an extra 10p for most single and return tickets and charging an extra 20p for a standard ticket fee.
The very popular First weekly West Yorkshire bus tickets will remain £20 although First week passes will see an increase of 50p, if purchased directly from the driver.
Since a majority of the company’s fares have remained unchanged since January 2015, First Leeds deemed a price increase necessary to continue to deliver quality service and to keep fees affordable.
According to a study by Juniper research conducted in April this year, nearly 23 billion public transport tickets will be purchased globally using mobile handsets by 2020 – is two times more than expected for this year alone.
First Leeds and Bradford already have 15,000 people using their mobile app and 78% of their passengers using and there is a predicted rise in the app’s use as customers will now be able to enjoy discounted fees.
What do people think?
Regular bus commuters such as Jordan Charles-Ward, 21, have expressed their opinion on the new mTicket scheme: “I feel like mTickets are a solution to the long queues we experience when commuting. Most people have smart phones these days so it won’t be too difficult adapt to the new system. It will be like the Oyster cards in London or contactless payment.”
On the other hand, many believe that the use of technology is not such a good idea. Nick Camy, 49, a businessman who regularly takes the train to work, says: “I don’t think mTickets are the best idea because of all the complications that phones come with. What if your phone dies or you don’t have internet, which is often the case if you’re in the middle of somewhere on a commute.
”Also, many elderly people don’t have smartphones so there’s that issue that needs to be thought through.”
Stagecoach, Britain’s biggest bus operator, have launched a similar app which will save passengers time by providing mobile ticketing, better information and live bus tracking.
Mobile ticketing was first launched in Manchester and Wigan, where, like the mTicket app, customers can instantly buy and download tickets. Payments can be made via Paypal or debit and credit card.
A journey planning tool is a popular feature of the app. Interactive maps and the smartphone GPS system allows people to identify their nearest bus stop and most suitable bus service for their journey. Information on journey length and fare options are also available.
Stagecoach UK Bus Managing Director Robert Montgomery said in a press release: “In today’s fast-paced world, time is really precious. Our new app will make bus travel easier and give people more time to focus on the other important things in their lives.
“So whether you’re a commuter heading to work, a student going to college, a family getting ready for a day out or you’re meeting retired friends, live bus tracking means you have more time to yourself before leaving for the bus stop.
“Bus travel is changing rapidly. We’ve invested more than £1 billion in new greener and more accessible buses over the past 10 years, many with free Wi-Fi. Smart ticketing and the lowest bus fares in Britain also mean there are big reasons to choose the bus.”
But Mr Montgomery added: “What our new app can’t do is solve the growing problem of road congestion. We need local authorities to take action because faster and more reliable bus journeys, fewer cars, and less pollution is better for everyone in our communities.”
The Leeds area is one of the most congested cities in the North. According to a study by TomTom, the first quarterly Congestion Index suggests 28 per cent of Bradford-Leeds roads are regularly congested, slightly more than London with 27 per cent and Birmingham with 21 per cent.
Leeds City Council and Metro, the West Yorkshire Transport Authority, are both working hard to relieve traffic congestion on roads. Among other projects, the council hopes to introduce 10 buses per hour between Bradford and Leeds in a bid to get people out of their cars and onto public transport.
First Leeds says the majority of the fares that are going up later this month have remained unchanged since the start of 2015. For full ticket information, visit the www.firstgroup.com/leeds website.
By Ana Hoyos and Leyla Rose