TravelMaster to Explore Contactless Capping in South Yorkshire

TravelMaster to Explore Contactless Capping in South Yorkshire

14 January 2020

TravelMaster, the commercial organisation responsible for multi-operator ticketing in South Yorkshire, has now started operator and market engagement to explore how it might deliver Multi-Operator contactless capping for passengers in South Yorkshire.

This complex area of work is still in a very early stage but we know that our partners and customers will be keen to understand our plans around the development of a system that is often requested by the region’s passengers.

What is Contactless Capping?

If you have travelled in London, or recently in Doncaster, you may have had experience of contactless capping. In simple terms it means that if you make a journey, or journeys, using your contactless bank card at the end of the day or week the price you pay is capped to the best value ticket.

In Sheffield, for example, this would mean if you travelled all week on a single operator you would be charged their 7-day price. If you travelled on more than one operator you would be charged the CityBus 7-Day price and if you travelled on the tram you’d be charged the CityWide price.

Why is Contactless Capping Being Considered?

TravelMaster’s Retail Strategy set an aspirational objective to ‘undertake preparation around how our products will convert into the multi-operator caps within [a contactless environment]’ and this operator engagement and market assessment will look at how TravelMaster can deliver that objective.

Matt Smallwood, Director & General Manager of TravelMaster, said: “TravelMaster is at the forefront of integrated ticketing outside of London and having completed the delivery of smart ticketing, the next logical step is assessing the potential implementation of contactless capping for our products.

We’re now formally undertaking operator and market engagement to understand what the technological, operational and commercial challenges and opportunities are around delivering a multi-operator contactless system for the region; something that passengers say they want and that the transport industry as a whole has committed to delivering.”

There is increasing demand from passengers for contactless capping and TravelMaster is committed to looking at meeting this demand whilst also ensuring the continued sustainability of the region’s great value multi-operator offer.

What Engagement and Assessment is TravelMaster Undertaking?

TravelMaster is engaging with the region’s operators, and the supplier marketplace, to fully understand the wide range of challenges that exist around the delivery of contactless capping:-


TravelMaster tickets are currently deployed across a broad range of operators each with different on-vehicle validation systems.

We are currently assessing the capability of each of those systems to operate interoperably within a contactless environment and what the implications are if a system cannot; such as identifying funding opportunities to infill gaps in the region’s technological makeup.


TravelMaster is legally responsible for ensuring that the regions multi-operator caps and products remain compliant with competition regulation.

We are currently assessing various contactless delivery models to identify and satisfy ourselves that the deployment of caps and the allocation of capped revenue remains compliant with these regulations and doesn’t favour any single operator or present a barrier to an operator entering the local market.


TravelMaster is a mature multi-operator scheme with an existing customer base purchasing products in advance. Moving from a pre-purchase system to a post-purchase system may have commercial implications that will need to be modelled and assessed.

The region has some of the UK’s lowest priced tickets and in assessing contactless capping we’d hope to maintain this sustainably whilst also appreciating that moving from a pre-purchase setup with guaranteed fare revenue to a post-purchase set-up requires extensive commercial modelling.

Similarly this will look at the potential commercial frameworks that may be in place around capital setup costs and operational costs.

Assessing all these areas will hopefully enable TravelMaster to more robustly understand if contactless capping is feasible for the region or if not what model, funding opportunities and methods of delivery would make it feasible for the region.

What Timescale is TravelMaster Working to?

TravelMaster has been engaging informally with potential suppliers, and working with participant operators, since October 2019 and this has now moved onto a more formal phase exploring potential delivery options and commercial frameworks.

From Quarter 1 of 2020 TravelMaster will be exploring the technological requirements around the delivery of contactless capping with operators alongside working with potential suppliers to identify the likely contractual and delivery frameworks.

If these requirements and commercial frameworks are viable then TravelMaster hopes to pilot in either Rotherham or Doncaster by late 2020. This pilot will be used to identify operational issues, assess technological resilience and importantly model the impact on the commercial marketplace through the deployment of caps when compared to pre-purchase products.

The outcome of this potential pilot will steer TravelMaster’s next steps through to the end of the year and determine if and in what form contactless capping may be delivered more widely in the region.