Lothian Buses will roll out a contactless payment system on its fleet of city buses from today – with unlimited daily travel in Edinburgh capped at £4.

Commuters will be charged £1.70 for an adult single ticket on an automated system which can read cards and accept mobile payments.

But if people take three or more journeys in a single day they will not be charged more than £4, which follows a similar scheme that has been operating in London for the last five years.

Daily capping will only be available on Lothian city services, Skylink, and service 43 buses initially, the council-owned company said.  It is working working on adding daily capping to Airlink, LothianCountry, and EastCoastbuses services in future.

Customers no longer need to know what ticket to buy before they travel – they simply tap their cards on the readers upon boarding and they are charged the Adult Single fare.

Nigel Serafini, Lothian’s Commercial Director said: “We are delighted to be launching city-wide contactless payment for our customers. With more and more of our transactions becoming ‘cashless’, it was important to recognise the demand for this capability across our fleet.

“This has been at the top of customers’ wish lists for some time and we’re pleased to be able to deliver an easy and convenient method of payment, which removes the need to carry cash, or know at the start of the day how many journeys you plan to make. The capping system means that our customers will always get the cheapest daily fare possible, no matter how their travel plans might change throughout the day.”

The new contactless payment system on Lothian’s services has been developed by long-term ticketing and fare collection technology partner Flowbird Transport Intelligence, working with Visa, the global digital payments company.

Owen Griffith, Managing Director of Flowbird Transport Intelligence, said: “This new contactless and fare capped system will make bus travel in the city easier than ever before, while simultaneously applying maximum daily fares rules for multiple journeys. We have delivered this innovation in partnership with Lothian and it marks another successful milestone in our long-standing relationship.”

Steven Orelowitz, Head of Transit, Europe, Visa, said: “The UK continues to lead the way when it comes to contactless payment systems on public transport and we are thrilled to have partnered with Lothian to bring contactless to their buses. People now expect to pay as swiftly and seamlessly for travel as they do for any other purchase, so the introduction of contactless is a huge step forward for Edinburgh, and a boost to the customer experience for both residents and visitors to the city.”

The system also accepts Apple Pay and Google Pay, so payments can be made using mobile devices.

In order to benefit from daily capped rates, bus users will need to use the same contactless card or device across the whole day. If a customer swaps between different payment cards or devices between journeys, payments will not be capped.

The contactless system – and daily capping – can only be applied for individual travel – if travelling with other people, each individual must have their own card or device.

Lothian Buses has in the past been criticised for operating an ‘exact fare system’, which had enabled it to make an additional £500-a-day in revenue because passengers did not have the correct change.