ALL buses across Merseyside will accept contactless payments at the end of July, according to Liverpool City Region Combined Authority.

Although some Stagecoach and Arriva buses already offer contactless services, from July 31 all other bus operators will follow suit thanks to a £1.05m grant from the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF).

The move is said to make the city region the first outside of London to offer the technology on every bus service.

Contactless payments will be valid for all tickets under £30 that are available to purchase on board services.

It is believed that contactless payments could help speed up boarding times and increase bus punctuality.

Newly upgraded ticket machines will also work with traffic signals to prioritise late buses - this currently being trialled on routes that run between Liverpool city centre and John Lennon Airport.

Metro mayor Steve Rotheram said: "The roll out of contactless technology is yet another step in the right direction as we seek to create a Liverpool City Region transport system that is fit for the 21st century – and it brings us into line with cities like London.

“The bus alliance has allowed us to make good progress in modernising our bus network – but now, with the powers we have through the Bus Services Act 2017 – we can move ahead at speed, beyond incremental improvements.

“People need to feel that our buses work for them and so we are analysing the results of our Big Bus Debate carefully, before we make a decision on the long term future of the bus system in our region.”

Under the new Bus Services Act 2017, the region is looking at three potential moves for the future, including franchising services, an enhanced partnership or continuing the existing Bus Alliance.

The LCR Combined Authority is expected to receive a recommendation in early 2020 with the next phase of the Big Bus Debate involving more detailed face-to-face surveys this summer.