Transport for London is currently consulting on proposals to ditch cash payments altogether, so if you were part of the estimated 1 per cent of bus travellers that still insist on using cash for your bus fare, you should probably get yourself an Oyster card.
It’s hoped a complete move to contactless payments would reduce delays and speed up bus services, while saving London an estimated £24 million in security and banking expenditure.
“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,” Managing Director for TfL Surface Transport Leon Daniels commented.
“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. The savings made can then be invested into making further vital improvements to the capital’s transport network.”
Since the July 2003 advent of the Oyster pre-paid smart cards, cash payments have been in decline. TfL estimates four fifths of passengers who pay in cash only do so because their Oyster lacks the required funds to travel.
Not everyone is convinced ditching cash bus fares will be beneficial to the capital. A spokesperson for London TravelWatch said: “[We] would be concerned about the impact it would have on visitors to London and vulnerable members of society. It could make things difficult for passengers who live in outer London where it is not always easy to find somewhere to top up your Oyster card.”
If the proposal becomes a reality, contactless payment schemes like Barclays’ will be allowed, with cash payments no longer accepted in 2014.