London buses to go contactless

London buses to go contactless

London buses are to be equipped with contactless card readers to enable commuters to pay for transit fares with a swipe of their debit or credit card.

"Transport for London expects that it will begin to accept debit and credit cards as direct payment media on buses from early 2012 and on the Underground around a year or so later," says London mayor Boris Johnson, confirming reports that first surfaced in October this year. "This would enable many visitors to London or occasional users to avoid the need to purchase an Oyster card, while still enjoying many of the benefits of pay-as-you-go."

A switch to bank cards, or mobile phones, has long been touted, with TfL floating the death of Oyster back in October 2008. Barclaycard launched a combined contactless Oyster travel and debit card, OnePulse, in 2007.

The move is designed to make travelling more convenient and save TfL money on the commission it currently has to pay Oyster operators every time one of the accounts is topped up.

TfL is also understood to be talking to counterparts in the US, Australia and Europe on harmonising systems, which would enable travellers from London to use their bank cards to travel on the Paris Metro or New York subway.

Transit issues have also moved up the agenda at the Cartes show in France, with Giesecke & Devrient, Infineon Technologies, Inside Secure and Oberthur Technologies announcing the launch of the Open Transport Alliance (OSTP), an international collective formed to develop new, interoperable transit fare collection systems.

The Alliance currently is developing the initial version of an open security standard - dubbed Cipurse - as well as documentation and reference implementations for cards, stickers, fobs, mobile phones and other consumer devices.

The idea is to create an open standard capable of enabling the public to use a single payment device - from standalone tickets to multi-application cards, microSD cards and NFC mobile phones - seamlessly across mulitple modes of transport in different locations, and across different regions and systems.

Comments: (2)

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 09 December, 2010, 11:49Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

If TfL is trying to save the fees paid to the Oyster operator for topping up the card, how does it plan to save on the interchange fees it would have to pay to the card issuing bank when it begins accepting network-branded credit and debit cards?

Alan Laird
Alan Laird - ADL Card Systems - London 09 December, 2010, 17:08Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

The formation of the Open Transport Alliance (OSTP) is to be welcomed.  The lack of a global approach to transport ticketing has, it could be argued, delayed adoption of cards by the transport industry.  What does this mean for ITSO, the UK organisation formed to standardise card usage on public transport?  It would be good to have a response from them.