For ages, Brighton buses has tried to encourage people not to buy their tickets on the bus.  Fair enough, everyone wants the bus to go faster.

But up to now they have done this by offering a discount. If you buy your ticket on the phone app or a key card you get a substantial discount.  For example a network saver, which will take you on any Brighton Bus for a day costs £5 if you pay by either of these methods instead of £7 if you pay by cash.  There are other savings too.  The centrefare in Brighton, a single journey in Brighton outside the central area, and the city saver are all cheaper on the M ticket or the key.

You can also get a lesser discount on network saver tickets (£5.30) if you buy a scratchcard ticket at a tourist office or some newsagents.

Now the bus company is offering a “tap on tap off” service to pay your fares.  You have to tap your contactless debit or credit card or you phone on a terminal when you get on the bus and when you get off.  If you forget to tap off you get charged the full daily rate of £7- a 40% price hike!

The con is that you don’t get any discount at all.  If you travel (for example) from Lewes to Brighton and back and also on one other bus you will pay £7 on tap on tap off.

If you have a smart phone it will almost always be cheaper to buy an M ticket.  If not it is cheaper to use the Key.  Looks to us like a way of getting people to pay extra money for their journey.

Compass Travel connecting services.

You can also use the Key to buy a network saver on Compass travel services which operate a lot of the suburban services in our area.  You can use a key card for buy Saver tickets for £5 valid on the following Compass Routes:

Suburban routes 19, 19A, 119, 120, 123, 127, 128, 129, 145 – Throughout the route.

Route 100, 106, – Between Upper Beeding and Steyning/Dacre Gardens only.

Route 108 – Between Steyning and Shoreham only.

Routes 121, 122, 166, 167 – Between Lewes and Nevill Green only.

Routes 125, 143 Between Lewes and Malling Down only.

Route 126 – Between Seaford and Chyngton Estate only.

So, for example, you could travel from your stop on the Landport Estate in Lewes or South Heighton to Brighton and back for no extra cost using the key.

You can also buy network saver tickets on these buses with cash for £7. Compass does not accept tap on tap off, scratchcards or M tickets, only Key cards and tickets bought with cash.

For more information about affordable sustainable travel visit

Published 7/10/19