The Manchester Megarider’s Digital Switchover

Stagecoach Manchester’s popular season ticket switches to smart card only format

DAF SB120 Stagecoach Manchester LL07 BLU, Oldham Bus Station

The sticky-backed plastic card is dead! Long live sticky-backed plastic and card! From tomorrow morning, Stagecoach Manchester’s popular season tickets will only be available in smart card form.

From tomorrow, passengers buying a new Manchester Megarider ticket will be issued with a credit card sized smart card. He or she will pay the driver as usual, on the bus, on their first purchase. This is valid for the usual seven days. He or she will scan the ticket on the machine (as with TfGM’s Get Me There, and the ENCTS concessionary passes).

Towards its expiration date, the pass can either be renewed on the bus, or via Stagecoach Manchester’s website. With the latter option, monthly and annual passes are available (for obvious reasons). At present, the concessions’ and children’s Megarider tickets are only available in paper form.

Since its rebranding from Network 7 in 1997, Stagecoach Manchester’s bought-on-the-bus weekly ticket has come in a card and sticky-backed plastic sleeve. The dead tree version of the Manchester Megarider has seen four different types of ticket machine, from the Wayfarer 2 to the ERG Systems one of today. Prior to this month, a basic smart card system was trialled on the 192 route with off-bus ticket machines on Piccadilly Gardens.

In advance of tomorrow’s changes, stickers have been placed on ticket machines, reminding passengers to scan their pass.

As well as speeding up boarding times, it is also consistent with trends toward electronic ticketing. Though bought-on-the-bus season tickets have become a popular option for regular passengers, it has had the negative effect of slowing down boarding times. For the foreseeable future, Day Rider tickets will still be issued on paper alongside single fares.

Stagecoach Manchester’s Managing Director, Christopher Bowles, said: “Adding the 7 day adult tickets to the StagecoachSmart card makes it even easier and more convenient for customers to travel by bus. Once you’ve been issued with a smart card, you should hold on to it and keep using it to store your tickets for travel. You can even buy your tickets online in advance.”

In the last two years, Stagecoach Manchester have issued smart card-based Megariders, which can be topped up online. These have been issued in tandem with paper-based equivalents. As an incentive to boost their take-up, online prices have been lower than bought-on-the-bus equipment. Since last month’s fare changes, they became the same price as their paper counterparts.

In the next two or three months, we shall see if they’ve made an impact on boarding times. East of the M60 may pick up on this in a future blog post or two.

Competition Time:

If you register a StagecoachSmart card at StagecoachBus.com between now [11 May] and the 10 June 2016, you will be entered into a free prize draw. If you’re one of the lucky 50 winners to have been drawn out of the hat by June, you win a month’s free travel with Stagecoach Manchester. A saving of £50 plus every Stagecoach Manchester bus from Abbey Lakes (near Wigan) to the Royal Oak (in Glossop).

S.V., 10 May 2016.

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