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TfL pushes London closer to electronic payments with cash-free buses

Only passengers using an Oyster or contactless payment card can board
Mon Jul 07 2014, 15:46
Concept image of a new model of the double decker red London bus

TRANSPORT FOR LONDON (TfL) has moved London buses to a completely cashless service, meaning only electronic payments are being accepted on the capital's iconic red double deckers.

The cash-free switch on London buses decrees that only passengers using an Oyster card, contactless payment card or pre-paid ticket will be able to board. The move is said to improve travel times on the service.

Last year, the government said that it expects cash fares to fall to less than one percent of total bus journeys, down from 20 percent 10 years ago, so it shouldn't annoy too many travellers. What's more, former cash payers will also benefit from a cheaper fare, as paying electronically saves passengers around £1 per trip.

At the moment, a pay as you go adult fare is £1.45 with Oyster, Visitor Oyster or a contactless payment card, compared to £2.35.

"The way our customers pay for goods and services is evolving, so we need to ensure our ticketing evolves too," said TfL director of buses Mike Weston. "Removing cash from our bus network not only offers customers a quicker and more efficient bus service but it enables us to make savings of £24m a year which will be re-invested to further improve London's transport network."

The move follows rumours that TfL reportedly is teaming with EE and Vodafone to trial payments via smartphones for travel in the city.

Online reports said in April that TfL is introducing smartphone payments as an alternative to the Oyster Card, since most new handsets have the same Near Field Communications (NFC) technology and TfL's turnstiles already have the capability to work with NFC smartphones.

While unconfirmed, the report added that the initial trial will be on a "pay as you go" basis, with mobile operators providing apps that can be loaded with cash to pay for travel. It is thought that operators might also consider payment for tickets on a weekly or monthly basis. µ


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