London's buses go live with contactless bank cards

As of today, bus passengers in London will be able to use their contactless debit, credit or charge card to touch in on the yellow Oyster card readers, with the same system also expected on the Tube next year. revealed the move earlier this week. The bus contactless systems were meant to be rolled out in time for the London 2012 Olympic Games, but were delayed due to “complexities with the technology”.

With contactless bank cards bus passengers will pay the cheaper single Oyster fare on any of London’s 8,500 buses.

As a result, said Transport for London, instead of fumbling for change or finding their Oyster card has run out of credit, Londoners and visitors will be able to use an American Express, MasterCard or Visa Europe contactless payment card to directly pay for their bus journey, and get a cheaper fare.

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said, “Lots of us have had the frustrating experience of dashing to board a bus only to discover that our Oyster card has run out of credit. This is the latest in a range of ways we are working to make passenger journeys even easier and more convenient.”

TfL says currently over 85,000 bus journeys each day are still paid for using cash, which is currently £2.30 and higher than the £1.35 Oyster fare, and at least 500 people per day try to pay their fare with a high denomination note for which the bus driver does not have change.

The new payment option will also be good news for the approximately 36,000 people per day who board a bus and find they have insufficient pay as you go balance on their Oyster to pay for their journey, as they will be able to use the other card they may have in their wallet.

At first, paying for travel using a contactless payment card will only be available on London’s buses, and will not include daily price capping. The flat fare structure on buses makes contactless payment more simple to introduce, and ensure it is successful before rolling it out to the wider transport network, said TfL.

By the end of 2013, customers will also be able to use a contactless payment card to pay for travel on London Underground, DLR, London Overground and trams, and daily and weekly price capping will be included at this stage, TfL said.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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