Bus is on its way back, says First’s Fearnley

First West Yorkshire 35266 (SL67 VWS), one of the first of the 34 Wright StreetDecks in a new dedicated livery for Leeds. TONY GREAVES

The bus is on its way back with a big future to play in the UK’s cities, says First Bus managing director Giles Fearnley. ‘The bus sector has not got a good image in transport,’ he told the UK Bus Summit in London on 8 February. ‘The perception is of 50 years of decline. But do not be fooled. We absolutely are the future. The car, rail, light rail. All look out. The bus industry, mark my words, we are on our way back. I have never been more confident that we have a very good future.’ Fearnley says that First is seeing growth in many markets where the group has a presence, aided by advances in payment systems. By the end of this year, he says that ‘most significant networks’ will be fully enabled for contactless payment. Within the first nine months of accepting contactless payment in Aberdeen, he says close to 30% of fare-paying passengers use this method and over 50% pay either by contactless or mobile device. It has experienced the fastest growth in Cornwall, with 20% of fare-paying passengers adopting it within 10 weeks of its introduction there.

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