Contactless payment now accepted on London’s buses

This evolution in transport ticketing will mean that 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 the cheaper Oyster (Smartcard) fare, making it easier and more convenient to travel around the capital.

Over 85,000 bus journeys each day are still paid for using cash, which is currently £2.30 (€2.8) and higher than the £1.35 (€1.65) 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. Now, customers will be able to use a contactless payment card to pay for their journey and will benefit from the cheaper Oyster fare. 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 – their contactless payment card – to pay their fare.

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. By the end of 2013, customers will be able to use a contactless payment card to also pay for travel on London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and trams and daily and weekly price capping will be included at this stage. Discussions are also underway with the Train Operating Companies that serve London about accepting contactless payment cards on National Rail services where Oyster is currently accepted.

TfL has worked closely with the banking and payments industry, including American Express, MasterCard, Visa Europe and card issuers, to bring contactless payment to London’s transport network. The Oyster readers on all of London’s buses have been upgraded to accept contactless payments alongside Oyster transactions and the software has been approved by all the major payments schemes and confirmed as meeting the security requirements of the global financial services industry.

Since its introduction in 2003, over 55 million Oyster cards have been issued and Oyster will continue to be the ticket of choice.  With around 30 million contactless credit, debit and charge cards already in circulation in the United Kingdom it is expected that up to 25 million bus journeys will be made by the end of 2013 using a contactless payment card.

Contactless payment is one of a series of new measures being introduced to make it easier and more convenient for customers to do business with TfL. Recent improvements with the Oyster online accounts, that are available to all registered Oyster users, include emailed weekly or monthly journey history statements and the facility to request a refund for a maximum fare. Future developments include a new TfL website that will launch next year providing a more personalised experience for users and the streamlining of the multiple phone numbers to contact TfL into one number.