TfL Approves Contactless Payments For Tube, Overground And DLR From September

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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Contactless cards and NFC smartphones can be used to pay for London travel from 16 September, with suburban national rail services to follow

Passengers on the London Underground, Overground, Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and Tramlink will be able to pay for their journey using their contactless card or compatible smartphone from 16 September.

Transport for London (TfL) says contactless payments will make it easier and quicker for customers to travel on the capital’s transport network as they will no longer need to queue up or go online to check or top up their Oyster balance.

Contactless payments have been possible on London buses since December 2012, with cash payments abolished earlier this summer, and a trial on the tube has been conducted since April. Since then 825,000 customers have used the technology to make 17 million journeys.

Tube contactless payments

Underground tube“Offering the option of contactless payments will make it easier and more convenient for customers to pay for their travel, freeing them of the need to top up Oyster credit and helping them get on board without delay,” says Shashi Verma, TfL’s director of customer experience. “The pilot has been a success, with participants giving us really useful feedback.  This is the latest step in making life easier for our customers by using modern technology to offer the best service possible.”

Passengers simply use their card or smartphone to open up station gates, with a ‘daily’ and new ‘Monday to Sunday’ price cap calculating the best fare. Only one charge per day will be made to a user’s bank account and it will clearly be labelled as a payment for TfL travel.

Oyster cards will still be offered to those who prefer the system or travel on a concession or season ticket and TfL will expand an existing awareness campaign regarding ‘card clash’, which could see passengers charged twice for the same journey if they don’t keep them separated, and accidentally swipe both. Contactless payments are not possible on National Rail services as yet, but TfL says it is working to include suburban rail routes.

Contactless boost

London’s transport body says it worked with all major card providers and other financial institutions while implementing the system but warns and passengers should check before attempting to travel with a card that wasn’t issued in the UK.

EE’s Cash on Tap NFC digital wallet service is among the methods that will be accepted, while Visa says it expects the development to fuel significant growth in contactless payments.

“Brits are already making over 20 million Visa contactless purchases each month with 40 million Visa contactless cards,” says Sandra Alzetta, executive director of Visa Europe. “We’re expecting that number to increase dramatically when London’s transport network starts accepting contactless on September 16th. I predict that paying for public transport will become so convenient and frictionless that in the first week of launch, we’ll see about 1 million Visa contactless journeys on TfL’s network.”

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