Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Musings on bus ticket machines

Brighton buses have now been fitted with new ticket machines.

The old machines would shoot out the ticket quite quickly but the ticket was usually difficult to tear off. It often required a second hard tug and then would tear in the wrong place leaving part behind. The driver would have to intervene to remedy the situation. This small delay is, of course, of small inconvenience to an individual passenger but the effect is cumulative, leading to slower journey times overall. It thus inconveniences the bus-travelling public as a whole and slightly increases the fuel used by the bus.

For passengers using a bus pass, it was noticeable that clued-up drivers mitigated the situation by having a small stock of tickets, that they had issued and torn-off in anticipation, ready to hand out as passengers boarded.

The new machines are ingeniously designed to cut the ticket as it is issued, but this operation seems to add significant seconds to the process and passengers have had to be warned not to tug on the ticket too soon. My suspicion is that the slight pause required in front of the ticket machine is going to significantly add to boarding times overall; especially as the passengers needing to receive tickets from the machine are likely to be younger ones and therefore tending to be those less delayed by the old machines. For bus pass holders, drivers have already returned to their previous practice, so no change there.

Another issue is why do senior bus-pass holders need to receive a ticket anyway? Even if they immediately lose it and a ticket inspector boards the bus, they are hardly likely to be accused of fraudulent travel if they can produce a bus-pass. One can appreciate that Brighton Buses needs to have a record of their senior passengers, but this surely need not be dependent on the issue of a paper ticket.


  1. Interesting. You commentated about the delay caused by passengers by having to tear the tickets.
    The new machines cut the ticket to save that delay, but then you complain about that causing a delay. You can't have it both ways.
    As for oaps getting ticket, this is a temp measure until the scanners are set up. Then all they have to do is dab their card on the scanner. This will be quicker, save paper, and no doubt record information such as where they are from and how many times they use their card, etc.

  2. GBD. For passengers regularly buying a paper ticket and who had from experience developed the required ticket-tearing technique on the old machines, the new machines are slower. They could surely have been designed to be quicker if this had been specified as a design priority?

    I noticed the scanners - good news.

  3. These machines are now standard across the bus industry which is why they were chosen. They are primarily designed for speed with the scanners, issuing occasional tickets only.
    The company are continuously pushing for passengers to pay in advance. Most people use more than one bus a day, yet buy daily savers or two singles on the bus which is the most expensive way of paying, and the slowest way of getting on the bus. Hundreds of shops sell day scratch off cards which are cheaper than on the bus, which should be an incentive not to pay on the bus, and it will be quicker for everyone.


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