Following our recent blog post about the launch of ‘Google Wallet’ and the emergence of secure payments by mobile phones using
‘Near Field Communications’ (NFC), one of the UK’s largest transport operators
announced this week that it will be fitting contactless card readers to its
fleet of approximately 5,000 buses across England in 2012.
FirstGroup aims to
make First Bus vehicles the first bus fleet outside London to install
contactless readers, enabling customers to use contactless debit or credit
cards and ITSO smartcards such as concessionary bus passes. In addition to
this, NFC-enabled smart phones will also be accepted – simply by holding the
device near the reader for the fare to be paid.
It is probably only a matter of time before this
technology starts appearing in parking stations. This would (potentially) result
in a reduction to the number of paystations required, as the customer would
pass the device near a reader at the entry and again at the exit, with the due
amount being charged to the credit card, debit card, or via the mobile phone
bill. The processing time at the exit would be significantly reduced allowing
for a faster throughput particularly at peak times.
The amount of cash required to be held at the
paystations would also significantly reduce, with consequent cost savings in
cash handling. Additionally, a completely cashless car park would enable
pricing structures to be easily increased annually by inflation with no need
for rounding to the nearest 10c or 50c. Taking this one step further, charging
could be applied to say, 10 minute blocks, or even adjusted according to time
of day and/or demand. Now that would be radical in the parking world!