National Express West Midlands bus passengers have been paying by contactless for the first time. The bus company has started a trial on its X1 and X2 services between Birmingham and Solihull.

Peter Coates, Managing Director of National Express West Midlands, said: “The trial is going well. Drivers tell me that passengers boarding at the airport are using the new card readers. We think people who’ve just arrived in Birmingham need an alternative to cash payments – they may not have the right change or even the right currency.

“They’ve also seen our customers making contactless transactions in Birmingham, Coventry and Solihull town centres.

“We know from running the Midland Metro tram that our customers like contactless. Over 20% of tickets sold on the trams are bought using contactless. Over two thirds of our customers tell us they like it because it’s quicker.”

Tickets are also cheaper using contactless. A peak Daysaver costs £4 instead of £4.60. A single ticket for longer journeys in Birmingham costs £2.10 instead of £2.40.

The new contactless readers are on the X1 – running from Birmingham city centre to Coventry via the airport – and the X2 from Birmingham city centre to Solihull.

The trial is using a retail model for transactions – the drivers select the tickets. The new ticketing machine will use automated payment deduction when the card is presented to the reader. This will make transactions quicker, reducing boarding times and speeding up bus journeys.

The contactless technology for this trial is a simpler form of National Express West Midlands’ new ticketing machines. The state-of-the-art technology will start appearing on Coventry buses later this year, followed by the rest of the West Midlands 1,600-strong fleet over the next two years.