Tfl has announced that London will lead the world in 2012 when it will become the first city in the world where passengers are able to access an entire transport network with just a swipe of their contactless bank or credit card.
By the end of 2012 card readers across the whole of the Transport for London (TfL) network will have been upgraded so that a touch of a contactless bank or credit card will allow passengers to touch in and out for pay as you go travel on the bus, Tube, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Tram and London Overground network.
The new system will be up and running on all of London’s 8,000 buses in time for the 2012 Games, enabling quick and easy bus travel for the millions of visitors who will flock to the Capital to enjoy the greatest show on earth.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “It is tip top news that from next year a simple tap of a contactless bank card will be enough to whizz you from A to B in this great city.
“London leads the way in so many different fields and we will be the first in the world to allow the millions using our Tube, trams, buses and trains to benefit from the ease of using this technology.
Discussions are also under way with the Train Operating Companies that serve London about whether contactless payment cards could be used on National Rail services where Oyster is currently accepted.
Oyster will also continue to be accepted for the many millions of customers who use it every day.
To make the new system possible TfL is upgrading software in the Oyster smartcard system to recognise contactless credit and debit cards issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express as well as Oyster cards.
Forefront of ticketing technology
Customers will be able to touch in with their contactless credit and debit cards in the same way that they can today to make low value purchases in many coffee shops and other retail outlets.
Contactless payment is another innovative development to London’s ticketing system and TfL is leading the way globally with its introduction. TfL has worked closely with the banking industry, including Visa Europe, MasterCard and American Express and card issuers, in order to bring contactless payment to London’s transport network.
Enter a pin
The software upgrade being delivered on the Oyster system will be fully approved by the payment schemes and will make full use of the payments industry’s security systems. Certain features of contactless payments will be adapted to suit the public transport environment – for example, customers will never be asked to enter a PIN at a busy station gate-line.
Customers who choose to pay this way will be charged for their travel directly from their bank or credit card account, removing the need to go out of their way to top up Oyster pay as you go credit balances. The new system will make London’s public transport far more accessible for domestic and international visitors.
Most visitors currently arrive in London without any kind of public transport ticket in their possession, and have to spend their valuable time buying one. But this enhancement to the Oyster system will mean visitors with a contactless credit or debit card are able to enter the transport network as soon as they arrive simply by touching in with their bank card at the Oyster reader. When fully rolled out, the technology will work even if their card was issued by an overseas bank.
This innovation will significantly increase visitors’ ability to make the most of their time in London, and will increase London’s attractiveness as a destination for tourism and business and its competitiveness with other world cities.
Leading the way
Contactless payment will also reduce commissions and processing costs for TfL, as well as enabling a reduction in the number of Oyster cards produced and issued. It is another example of TfL’s efforts to operate more efficiently and provide value for money for London’s fare and taxpayers.
Will Judge, TfL’s Head of Future Ticketing, said: “We are leading the way globally with this project, and with over 12 million contactless debit and credit cards already in circulation in the UK, we are confident that this payment option will be widely adopted in the coming years, either as an alternative to Oyster or as a back up for when the Oyster card is left at home.
“As more people use their bank issued cards to pay for their travel directly, TfL’s costs will reduce, delivering better value for money for London’s fare and taxpayers.”
Mark Austin, VP and Head of Visa contactless, Visa Europe, said: “We are expecting 20 million contactless debit and credit cards to be issued by the start of 2012.
“This initiative between TfL and the banking industry will be a great new convenient service which will save people time queuing to either purchase tickets or top up their Oyster card.”
TfL is also in talks with transport operators around the world to share detailed information and experience on using this technology on their systems. If these other operators choose to follow TfL’s path, this would allow passengers to use their debit and credit cards on urban transport networks across the globe.