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Stagecoach announces trial of contactless payments

Stagecoach and Everything Everywhere will be using government preferred standards to help boost interoperability

contactless payments trial using near field communication (NFC) technology that could lead to a nationwide roll-out across bus and rail services in 2013.

The trial, which is already running on the Stagecoach bus network in Cambridgeshire, allows bus users to receive, store and validate their bus tickets using their mobile phone.

Everything Everywhere will be providing each customer involved in the trial, approximately 40, with an NFC-enabled handset. This will have a pre-loaded specially designed application that is compatible with the local bus network's smartcard readers.

The trial is using the Department of Transport's (DfT) preferred Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation (ITSO) standard for smart ticketing technology, which was laid out in its "Reforming our Railways" report in March of this year.

Some £3.5 billion worth of efficiency savings are hoping to be delivered by 2019 through a number of Department of Transport initiatives, one of which is the use of smart ticketing.

It is hoped that by using the ITSO standards, this will allow for interoperability of NFC use across all rail and bus networks.

"Smart phones are playing an increasingly important role in helping people manage their busy lifestyles and area already used across many areas of life," said Martin Griffiths, director at Stagecoach Group Finance.

"Once this trial is complete, we will carry out a review of the findings and assess the potential to expand the scheme further for our passengers."

Stagecoach is one of UK's biggest bus and coach operators, with approximately 2.5 million passengers travelling on its 7,700 buses every day.

Stagecoach runs the South West Trains, Island Line and East Midlands Trains networks. It has a 49 percent shareholding in Virgin Rail Group, which operates the West Coast inter-city rail franchise.

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