FIVE of Britain's biggest bus operators, including Stagecoach and First, have unveiled plans to introduce contactless payment technology on every bus in Britain by 2022.

Stagecoach, First Bus, Go-Ahead, Arriva and National Express – are working together to produce a business case which is expected to be completed by late spring 2016.

The multi-million pound initiative, largely funded by the private sector, means commuters on all 32,000 buses outside of London would be able to pay bus fares using credit or debit cards compatible with EMV (Europay, Mastercard, Visa) contactless technology readers, which would be installed on every vehicle.

The scheme would offer cashless travel for those who want it and capped pay-as-you-go-fares in all urban areas.

Contactless transactions are already accepted on London’s 9,600 buses and 76 million contactless cards are now in issue in the UK – a rise of nearly 40 per cent in the past year.

Robert Montgomery, managing director of UK bus operations for Perth-based Stagecoach, said: “This contactless initiative would be the biggest smart ticketing project ever delivered in Britain and a major milestone in providing simpler travel for the millions of people who rely on buses.

“Smart bus ticketing is already widespread across the UK, with ourselves and Go-Ahead having over 1.5 million smartcards in circulation. New technology has brought new opportunities to deliver even simpler, faster and more integrated travel using contactless debit and credit cards.

“This is an ambitious programme that needs careful planning and close partnership working both between operators and with local authorities.”

The development of the bus contactless plan comes just weeks after the major operators completed the introduction of smart multi-operator bus ticketing in all nine of England's smart city regions with support from local transport authorities.

A similar project is now underway in Scotland to deliver the same benefits to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen.