Mobile NFC

Transport for London has revealed plans to ditch cash payments on London buses as contactless cards and NFC gain greater accceptance across the capital's transport network.

The consultation aims to gather reponses to the proposals which would see all fares being paid through the Oyster card or through contactless payment cards, bringing an end to all cash payments on the bus network.

TfL introduced the radio-frequency identification (RFID) Oyster cards in 2003, before launching near field communication contactless payments on London’s fleet of 8,500 buses in December 2012. Over three million journeys have now be paid for using contactless cards.

Steve Townsend taking Olympics confidence into new projects" href="" target="_blank">[TfL CIO Steve Townsend profile]

According to TfL the popularity of the new payment methods have meant that cash fares now make up less than 1% of bus journeys, down from 25% in 2000. 

By removing cash payments, TfL noted that customers would benefit by faster boarding times and cheaper fares, while TfL itself would stand to save £24 million, a sum which would then be reinvested in improving the transport network.

The consultation is now open to the public until October 2013, TfL said.  

"The proposals we are consulting on reflect the changing way that our customers pay for their journeys - with the vast majority now benefiting from the best possible fares and the convenience that Oyster and contactless payment cards deliver," said Leon Daniels, managing director for TfL surface transport.

"It costs £24 million a year to accept cash on buses and with so few customers paying cash it makes sense for us to consider removing it."

TfL has indicated in recent months that the contactless payments will be extended across more of the capital’s transport network. By the end of the year this will mean contactless cards are due to be accepted on the Tube, Docklands Light Railway, London Overground and trams.

Contactless card payments are becoming increasingly accepted by the UK public. A report released by Visa earlier this week showed more than 51 million purchases using NFC-enabled technology were made by UK consumers in the past 12 months, with the monthly spend reaching £45.2 million in June.

Meanwhile a report released by the UK Payments Council this week forecast that the number of cash payments in the UK will fall from 21 billion in 2012 to around 14 billion in 2022, as people increasingly use alternatives such as cards.

[Transport for London CIO Steve Townsend CIO 100 entry]