First Group, Britain's biggest bus operator, which runs services in major cities across the country has joined forces with the Britain's banks to revolutionise how commuting is paid for.
A new generation of debit cards is being issued, which passengers will be able to use in many parts of the country by the end of next year.
As they are linked directly to a bank account, these cards will not require topping up, unlike the Oyster which has been in use in London since 2003.
There are already 13 million smart debit cards in circulation. They are accepted by a number of retailers such as Pret-a-Manger.
While ordinary debit cards require either a code or the customer to sign, this is not necessary with the new generation for small purchases up to £15.
This ceiling has made it possible to use these cards on public transport.
However this will change when First Group introduces smartcard readers on its 5,000 strong bus fleet.
It is estimated that 2.5 million passengers will use the cards to touch in at the start of their journeys and touch out at the end.
The company has spent £27 million on the technology which will be installed on buses in towns and cities including Manchester, Bolton, Oldham, Wigan, Stoke, Northampton, Leeds, York, Halifax, Huddersfield, Bradford, Leicester, Portsmouth, Southampton, Plymouth, Reading, Bristol, Ipswich and Norwich.
In the long term First Group, which carries 17 per cent of bus passengers outside London, expects passengers to be able to use their mobile phones to pay for their journeys.
The use of smart cards has been made possible by the introduction of a technology known as ITSO, a format backed by the Government.
It is hoped that a common standard will mean that passengers will be able to use one smart card for all bus, train and tram travel anywhere in the country.
Southern Railway has announced that it will use similar ITSO smart cards on the line between Brighton and Seaford.
The Government has also made ITSO technology a requirement in the latest round of rail franchise agreements.
Norman Baker, the local transport minister, welcomed the adoption of the technology by First Group.
“I will be personally taking a keen interest in how this makes bus travel more attractive.
“I also know that First will co-operate in the development and use of smart multi-operator products, to deliver seamless, better value public transport.”