A ONE-off grant has been made available to Hampshire’s smaller bus operators to introduce contactless payments.

Bus journeys in Hampshire are the highest on record, according to the Department for Transport, and now Hampshire County Council has announced a one-off grant fund of £165,000 available to Hampshire’s smaller bus operators to introduce the payment method.

Hampshire's various bus providers gave 33.5 million journeys last year, a rise from 31.5 million the year before, and 30.3 million a decade ago.

Councillor Rob Humby, executive member for environment and transport for Hampshire County Council, said: “Hampshire is bucking the national trend with more people taking the bus to get around in Hampshire. Two million more trips were recorded in the past year, according to the latest Government figures.

"Modern ticketing technology means people can catch the bus without bothering about having the right change, or, in fact, any money on them at all. As passengers board buses quicker, this speeds up bus journey times and also means less waiting for others on the road as buses pick up passengers at bus stops.

“With smaller bus operators being able to offer contactless payments, alongside the bigger bus operators as well as other improvements such as free on board WiFi, audio/visual next stop announcements and USB charging points on new vehicles, bus travel in Hampshire offers an up-to-date, comfortable and reliable travel choice. Bus travel in Hampshire is the highest on record and I’m pleased to see our approach to working in partnership with the bus operators is showing results for Hampshire residents."