04-May-2023 10:10:31
by Lucie Kbidy

National Express West Midlands introduces UK’s largest on-bus ticket scanning program

National Express West Midlands has introduced the UK’s largest on-bus ticket scanning system to read and validate mobile tickets (mTickets) - in partnership with Masabi and INIT.

The new technology provides National Express West Midlands and its customers with a quicker, safer and simpler way to travel around the region by reducing fraud, speeding up bus boarding times and reducing wait times by providing an efficient contactless experience. 

It is now live across National Express West Midlands’ fleet of 1,600 buses throughout Birmingham and the Black Country, Solihull and Coventry. 21 million mTicket QR code scans have already taken place since the new technology was rolled out towards the end of 2022.

The bus operator has seen an increasing trend in customers’ use of digital ticketing over traditional cash payments. It has today reported that over 132 million bus trips have been made with mTickets using Masabi’s Justride platform.  

Daljit Kalirai, Sales and Partnerships Director at National Express West Midlands, said: “Around 25% of our customer journeys are made using mTickets and we've seen over 21 million scans using the new QR code scanning system. It couldn’t be easier - customers simply activate their mTicket in our app, get onboard and scan the QR code using our onboard card reader. We’re committed to making bus travel affordable for all, which is why we recently extended our £2 adult single ticket offer until the end of June. Our day saver also still costs £4 - the same as it did in 2014 - regardless of how many buses our customers catch. The new mTicket QR scanning technology has been a really exciting project for us. Working collaboratively with our partners Masabi and INIT, we’ve been able to make several improvements to our scanners and mobile app, so our customers get the best experience possible. It will also help us crackdown on fraud so we can continue maintaining our low fares while making it even quicker and easier for our new and existing customers to travel by bus.”

Customers can purchase and store mTickets in seconds within the National Express West Midlands mTicket app with its handy wallet feature. Most ticket types are available including singles, day savers, group tickets, and one and four week tickets.

Brian Zanghi, CEO of Masabi, said: “The success of this initiative with National Express West Midlands is the result of the close partnership we have developed over recent years, helping to roll-out upgrades and improvements that continue to make everyday life easier for bus customers. The use of our barcode key schema to accelerate mobile ticketing adoption illustrates our ethos of the power of partnerships and open ecosystems to benefit local communities and the wider transport industry.”

Jens Mullak, Managing Director of INIT Ltd, said: “INIT has enjoyed a strong partnership with National Express West Midlands for many years and we recognise that passengers now demand greater choice when it comes to paying for their travel. Within six weeks our engineers retrofitted the ticket validators across National Express West Midlands’ entire fleet with new barcode scanners. This new payment method speeds up boarding times because passengers activate their ticket before they board and then simply scan the stored QR code on our validators as they enter the bus.National Express also benefits because they have visibility of their passengers’ movements when they scan their barcodes.”

Testing of the new mTicket QR code scanning technology began last year. National Express West Midlands worked with Masabi and INIT to implement and refine the new system before rolling it out more widely from November.

Masabi adapted the design of the mTicket QR code in the app to make it easier for customers to scan and INIT retrofitted optical readers for barcode validators on existing card readers, without disrupting services for National Express West Midlands’ customers. 

Working in tandem, a daily change program involved card readers being removed from buses and shuttled across to INIT for retrofitting, before being returned and refitted to buses going back out in service. 

Today’s announcement marks more milestones in the long-standing partnership between National Express West Midlands and Masabi, delivering continuous upgrades and improvements to make it even easier for customers to ditch the car and switch to travel by bus.

Masabi and National Express West Midlands began working together in 2016 with the launch of the award-winning NX Bus mTicket app and, in 2018, introduced a smart ticketing scheme allowing students to order discounted or fully-funded student travel passes through the app. In 2021, National Express West Midlands also launched cash digitisation, allowing passengers to buy their tickets using cash at more than 1,300 retail locations across the West Midlands. 

For more information on National Express West Midlands’ mTickets please visit the website here.

If you're interested in learning more, our team of experts can provide valuable insights and help you understand how Fare Payments as a Service can work for you, contact our team today for a free demo of our Justride platform.


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Written by Lucie Kbidy