Change for No Change’s Sake: First Greater Manchester to Introduce Change Vouchers

New move set to reduce boarding times

Optare Solo First Greater Manchester MX54 GZF, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station
Another day in the life of the 38 service. One which could be made easier in the peaks, especially on a Monday when season tickets are being renewed.

Within the next month, the joys of boarding a bus with a £20 note and holding everybody else up could be gone forever. At least on First Greater Manchester’s services.

From the 20 September, passengers will receive a change voucher if the driver has no change on the vehicle’s float. Though First buses will still be able to give change, passengers are advised, as per the FirstGroup website and on their buses, to tender the exact fare.

On some occasions, not having the right change has meant drivers having to carry passengers freely. He or she could be given the option to pay for their fare once the driver has enough change in the cab. Under the new regimen, our passenger gets a voucher for the excess amount.

Therefore, supposing our passenger wishes to pay for a £2.20 single fare on the 346 and pays with a £20.00, s/he gets a voucher for £17.80. Supposing our driver has no change in the float. On his or her next trip, s/he realises the £17.80 could go towards a FirstWeek pass. The driver gives our passenger £3.80 in change on their next trip.

There is one downside. Passengers can buy a System One day saver of any description on a First bus with their change voucher, though not a Buscard. (Being as Buscards have never been bought-on-the-bus season tickets). There is as yet, no allowance for online sales (a code at the bottom of the ticket could be an idea, so long as facilities are available on the FirstGroup website).

In a nutshell, the change vouchers is a fait accompli between change being given at all times and a full-fat Exact Fares Only system. Throughout the West Midlands, Exact Fares Only systems have been the norm since one man operation was introduced in the late 1960s. Likewise in Nottingham where the municipal operator has had an Exact Fares system for a similar period.

In Greater Manchester, Exact Fare Only systems have had limited use. In the mid-1960s there was Manchester City Transport’s Minimax fares and fareboxes on OMO buses. Likewise with Ashton Corporation, though no tickets were dealt. Since Greater Manchester Transport’s era, only the Centreline buses had exact fares (2p in the summer of 1974, 12p by 1981).

From personal experience, one of my main bus boarding tropes has been Megarider Monday (that’s with me living in Stagecoach Manchester territory). We hope First Greater Manchester’s idea is picked up by other operators in the TfGM boundary. Who knows, especially as bus travel could be cashless by 2020.

S.V., 07 September 2015.

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3 thoughts on “Change for No Change’s Sake: First Greater Manchester to Introduce Change Vouchers

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    1. Hi George,

      I honestly don’t know about Stagecoach Manchester’s progress with the real time app. My money is on Stagecoach sorting the WiFi out on all its buses prior to launching any app.

      So far, WiFi has been rolled out to at least 65% (my estimates) of their fleet. Some vehicles, for example the Optare Solos seen on some journeys throughout Tameside, are awaiting WiFi. There is some – thanks to my research as a passenger – Enviro400s among those without.

      Over in FirstGroupland I like the real time information app, though I use Google Maps and Moovit as my main transport planning tools. The WiFi connections on First’s vehicles seem to be more consistent and – one thing I have noticed in my area – fitted on its older buses. (Apart from the ghastly X-reg Marshall bodied Dennis Dart SLFs).

      One thing I love about on-board WiFi is being able to plan your next connection on the hoof. Regarding the Change Vouchers, I am watching these events with interest and wonder if any of Greater Manchester’s other bus operators may introduce a similar scheme.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      Like

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