One of the leading bus companies in the north of England, Go North East, has claimed to be the first in the UK to offer customers the ability to buy tickets using their mobile phones.
By texting "txt2go" to the number 60060, a passenger can receive a digital ticket on their mobile phone minutes later. The phone screen displaying the ticket information is then shown to the driver when boarding the bus.
The new system will be "competitive with any ticket system", a spokesperson for Go North East said on Monday. As "an initial offer", an all-day ticket will cost "about £4, instead of around £5, depending on exactly what kind of ticket [is purchased]", a spokesperson for the company added.
The system was developed by Go North East in partnership with IT services company Atos Origin and mobile-ticketing specialist Swiftpass.
Tickets received digitally remove the need to carry cash, making it safer for passengers and improving security on buses by reducing the amount of money carried by the driver, Go North East suggested in a statement on Monday.
The company said in the statement that "the new tickets are also very secure, with each one locked to the handset it was ordered from, so they cannot be transferred to another phone". Coded information within the digital ticket will also reduce attempts at forgery, said the company.
To use txt2go, customers first set up an online account using Go North East's website. Money is then added to the account using a debit or credit card and the cost of each txt2go ticket will automatically be taken from the account.
The account can be kept topped up either through the online account or by text, or the account can be set to automatically top up when funds reach a certain level.
"This is an exciting step forward in making bus travel even more convenient and we want to find out whether passengers feel comfortable with this method of buying tickets," said Go North East's commercial director, Martin Harris, on Monday.
Stephen King, sales manager for Go North East, tries out the new ticketless system with the help of driver Gavin Wink at the Gateshead Stadium