PASSENGERS using Park and Ride services to travel into and out of Leicester will be able to make contactless payments from next week (Monday, June 15).
The bus services, which operate from Meynells Gorse and Enderby, have been equipped to accept contactless card payments to help minimise cash handling for staff and passengers, speed up boarding times and improve passenger safety.
The £60,000 investment has been funded by the Department for Transport’s Transforming Cities Fund, and means that contactless payments are now in use on all the main bus operators across the Leicester conurbation, including First, Arriva, Centrebus, Kinch, Stagecoach and Park and Ride operators Roberts Travel Group.
Park and Ride services resumed operating from Enderby and Meynells Gorse from June 1 following the lifting of some lockdown measures. The third Park and Ride site, at Birstall, is currently being used as a Covid-19 testing centre, and remains closed.
Social distancing measures mean that with fewer passengers allowed on a bus at any time, more vehicles are needed to ensure a regular, reliable service. Some buses from the Birstall service are being used to provide extra vehicles on the remaining two routes.
Current Government regulations also call for protective face coverings to be worn on public transport.
Leicester deputy city mayor for environment and transport, Cllr Adam Clarke, said: “Preventing infection is at the forefront of all our planning for the recovery of the city’s transport and economy, and while we are encouraging people to walk and cycle where possible, we realise that many people rely on using the Park and Ride services.
“The ability to make contactless payments means people don’t have to worry about cash handling and the need for physical contact is further reduced, along with the associated risks from coronavirus.
“On a wider note, this marks the completion of contactless payment being introduced on all main bus operators across Leicester and neighbouring parts of the county, which is a real milestone for those involved in the Leicester Bus Partnership.”
Managing director of Roberts Travel Group, Jonathan Hunt, added: “We are working hard to ensure the right measures are in place so that people can feel confident to travel with us.
“Our passenger numbers have been steadily growing over the last couple of weeks, and expect them to rise further when we see more shops reopening from June 15.
“We’ll be working all weekend to fit the equipment for contactless payments on all our buses, and ensuring staff are fully trained to use it in time for Monday.”
During the current recovery phase, NHS and care workers are able to use the park and ride services for free, with other passengers paying a reduced fee of £3 per day, to minimise the change required.
The city council is also working with bus companies on other measures to help their services operate as safely as possible, including disembarking buses early to reduce the numbers of people using the main bus stations. Both Park and Ride sites are also offering park and cycle facilities, to encourage people to park for free and cycle to their destination.
Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for highways and transport, Councillor Trevor Pendleton, said: “By introducing contactless methods onto the park and ride service, alongside face coverings, users will be heavily reducing the risk of contracting or spreading coronavirus which is vital to keeping our county and city safe.
“Controlling the spread of the virus, as services begin to resume, is essential and although we are encouraging residents and workers to park and cycle where possible, we know that many do rely on the service direct to the city.
“We’re really pleased to be introducing this technology at a time when we need to safeguard communities and each other.”