London buses go cashless

London buses go cashless

London buses have stopped accepting cash fares in a move that Transport for London (TfL) says will save £24 million a year.

As of yesterday, passengers must pay for their journeys with an Oyster or contactless payment card, or a prepaid or concessionary ticket.

Cash fares made up less than one per cent of bus journeys this year - down from around 25% a decade ago. But the decision to remove the option has proved controversial. A recent public consultation on the issue attracted over 37,000 responses, with only a third backing the move.

To help allay one frequently cited concern about the end of cash payments, TfL has rolled out an Oyster 'One More Journey' feature, which lets people use their card once even if it does not have enough credit.

Since its introduction last month, around 44,000 customers a day have taken advantage of the service.

Mike Weston, director of buses, TfL, says: "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 £24 million a year which will be re-invested to further improve London's transport network."

Comments: (8)

Paul Love
Paul Love - Konsentus - Nottingham 07 July, 2014, 13:21Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Now where did I put my contactless wristband?

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 07 July, 2014, 14:08Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

This is heartening, worthy of emulation in other cities.

It will be appreciated if one can get granular about the GBP 24 Mn savings, which is quite large, even if spread over a year.

Another point to be noted is that this savings is in spite of the fact that cash payments comprised only 1% of (payments for) bus journeys made so far this year.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 07 July, 2014, 15:08Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

Heartening? Or a cynical ploy to squeeze extra free money out of commuters? If you're an Oyster user you most likely have a few quid on it at any one time, and possibly you've ticked the "auto top-up when balance reaches £5" option. There are 43 million Oyster cards in circulation, just how may extra pounds are there on them that never get used? All they'll do is inflate the coffers at TfL. 

Jan-Olof Brunila
Jan-Olof Brunila - Swedbank - Stockholm 08 July, 2014, 06:20Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes City of Stockholm busses went cashless some five years ago, not to save on cost but to increase the driver safety by making it known to all that there is no point to attempt a bus driver robbery since there is no cash till. Many other businesses in Sweden are cashless today, among others mobile phone stores and furniture outlets.
Stanford Rusike
Stanford Rusike - VeriFone (UK) - London 08 July, 2014, 07:18Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

When will I be able to use my debit card on the tube as well? I keep forgetting to keep the contactless cards in my wallet seperate (choc des cartes)!

I agree with Dirk though, that is a LOT of money in TfLs books .. maybe UK.GOV should make TfL re-deploy that money by further improving transport provision and offset the fact that I/public may have to walk and not take a bus if card is lost/broken.. of if I happen to be 'unbanked' for some reason.

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 08 July, 2014, 07:30Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

I know that this might sound stupid, but why don't the TfL have the minimum balance for a topup at zero or below zero? I am sure that there is no possible reason that you could not do this technically. Financially, is another story. Let me see, 43 million times $5.00 = $215,000,000.00. Not everyone has the topup function set up. Not a bad method of earning interest hey! Maybe its time for the government to get involved and legislate to ensure a zero balance or no minimum balance, for all topups?

Ketharaman Swaminathan
Ketharaman Swaminathan - GTM360 Marketing Solutions - Pune 08 July, 2014, 16:51Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

If the GBP 5 in the Oyster Card never expires, it's not such a bad thing - after all, the prepaid card business supposedly runs on a clear assumption of a certain level of breakage. While I'm no fan of a business refusing to accept the legal tender, is there anything stopping people from unchecking the default auto topup option? A simpler solution would be to stipulate upon TfL that auto topup should be made opt-in (as against opt-out as at present).

A Finextra member
A Finextra member 09 July, 2014, 11:39Be the first to give this comment the thumbs up 0 likes

It would be interesting to see what impact this might have on those banks with London based customers.  

How many requests for card renewals with contactless payment capabilities are likely to arise over the next month or two.

I know my bank has not been proactive in getting a contactless capable card out to me in time to support this change.

As for using the debit card on the tube gates, this will have to wait as the existing technology doesn't support the international standard, and, apparently, the cost to TFL to upgrade is quite significant...