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London buses get NFC card fare payment options

Entire London transport network to get contactless payments by end of 2013
Thu Dec 13 2012, 10:46
Concept image of a new model of the double decker red London bus

LONDON BUS RIDERS will be able to use their NFC enabled bank cards from Mastercard, Visa and American Express to pay for journeys from Thursday.

This means that those without an Oyster card or lacking enough credit on their cards can pay for their bus journey by swiping their bank card instead and paying the same amount as a standard Oyster fare at £1.35 per ride.

The service is being rolled out on London buses first to help people get used to the system but it should be live across the entire transport network by the end of 2013.

Mike Cowen, head of the transit solution for Europe at Mastercard has been working with Transport for London (TfL) on the project since 2006 to ensure that it will meet the unique requirements of the London transport network.

"The advent of contactless payments cards to enable tap and go transactions helped TfL see the opportunity that could be gained by letting people pay for journeys in this way, rather than needing credit or cash," Cowen told The INQUIRER.

"There's been a lot of consultation around the work and how it should work since then as a transit environment is unlikely retail market as the demands are very different: there are not many shops where you need to get 45 people per minute through a point of sale like a bus or Tube gate."

Buses are the first part of the network to receive the service as the cost structure is simpler than Tube journeys, with each journey costing the same amount regardless of distance.

However, in 2013 the ability to pay for Tube journeys and run weekly travel passes on bank cards will also be introduced.

This will revolve around setting a weekly cap equivalent to a weekly travel card and once journey costs have reached this amount the remaining journeys for that week will be free.

"Monthly or annual season tickets will likely work by letting users link their bank card to the purchase of the ticket, and then if they go beyond the zones specified for that purchase the additional journey costs are taken under the usual pay-as-you-go system," added Cowen.

Mastercard has been testing the system on buses in both test environments and live network routes since the Summer. Cowen said the firm is confident it will be able to meet customer demand for the new service right from the start. µ


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