Transport for London says more than 60m journeys have been paid for using contactless fares in the past month, with the payment method now accounting for 14 per cent of all pay as you go journeys.
First introduced on the bus network in 2012 and extended to DLR, London Overground, Rube and National Rail services in London last September, contactless allows commuters to pay for their journey with a compatible debit and credit card.
In addition to offering adult-rate pay as you go Oyster rate fares, contactless also offers weekly fares capping which ensures passengers pay the lowest fares across a seven day period – a perk currently unavailable to Oyster users due to incompatible technologies.
One in seven contactless transactions in the UK now take place on London transport and MasterCard’s Scott Abrahams says take-up by passengers is having a “halo effect” and driving “significant” use of contactless payment at other retailers.
The popularity of contactless means TfL is now the fastest growing contactless Visa merchant in Europe, and in the UK for Mastercard and American Express.
Mayor Boris Johnson said: “London was the first city in the world to offer passengers the option of getting from A to B with a simple flourish of a contactless payment card.
“Clearly Londoners and visitors to the capital have embraced this innovative technology – with a million card swipes taking place each day as people zip around our fine city on TfL services.”
TfL’s Director of Customer Experience, Shashi Verma, said: “It’s great to see we are leading the market in Europe for contactless payments. Our customers are finding it a much more convenient way to pay for their travel.
“I would encourage anyone who uses pay as you go to try contactless, there’s no need to top-up, you just touch in and out with your credit or debit card.”
Val Shawcross, Labour’s transport spokesperson on the London Assembly, said she welcomed convenience of contactless but accused the Mayor and TfL of breaking promises that Oyster would always be the cheapest way to travel.
Ms Shawcross commented: “By refusing to introduce weekly capping on Oyster, as they have with contactless, Oyster users risk paying more than their contactless-using counterparts.
“With almost half a million Londoners not having bank accounts, passengers should always have multiple options for how they can pay transport fares.
“What contactless shouldn’t become is a stealth attempt to push people away from Oyster cards by reserving the best fares for contactless.”