Tube, DLR and London Overground passengers will be able to pay for their daily commute with contactless debit and credit cards from September, Transport for London have confirmed.
Contactless fares, also known as Wave&Pay, were first introduced on the bus network in 2012 and have proved popular with passengers who find they have insufficient Oyster Pay As You Go credit to complete their journey.
An improved ‘next generation’ version, which offers Oyster-like daily and weekly fare capping, will go live across all TfL rail services from September 16th. TfL says no date has yet been set for the introduction of capping on bus services.
From that date passengers will be able travel by simply tapping their contactless enabled card on the Oyster reader, ending the need to queue to top-up and maintain a separate card balance.
Unlike Oyster, the new contactless system will only charge passengers at the end of the day, a change TfL says will ensure passengers are always charged the best value fares for that day’s trips.
The system, which has undergone extensive trailing in recent months with the help of 3,000 volunteers, will continue to calculate fares throughout the week and ensure passengers who qualify automatically benefit from weekly capping.
Trialists will continue to use the system until the official go-live date, ensuring TfL continues to benefit from their feedback and experiences.
Customers who choose to register for a free TfL online account will be able to monitor their payment and journey history.
Shashi Verma, TfL’s Director of Customer Experience, said: “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.
“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.”
The new service will operate alongside Oyster and TfL is working with Network Rail to extend it to all London rail services.
A TfL spokesperson said: “Train operators have already signed up to rolling out the ‘wave and pay’ contactless payment across the capital.
“Contactless bankcard payment follows the successful introduction of Oyster PAYG on National Rail services which has already proven to be a huge success with around 650 million National Rail journeys made since its introduction in 2010.
“Operators will continue to work closely with TfL to ensure that their new system is up and running across National Rail services as soon as possible.”
Janet Cooke, Chief Executive at passenger watchdog London TravelWatch, said failure to include the rail network would be “a recipe for confusion amongst passengers.”
She added: “Experience from when Oyster PAYG was only partially implemented on the transport network in London showed this, with many thousands of passengers being subject to Penalty Fares, because they did not understand when or where Oyster PAYG was valid.
“It is also not fair that some passengers will benefit from being able to use contactless payments whilst others won’t.”
Caroline Pidgeon, the Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson on the London Assembly, said: “After such long delays in introducing this technology we now need real honesty from the Mayor and Transport for London as to how contactless payment will really operate.
“Most importantly we need an absolute assurance that anyone without access to a bank account and who is unable to use contactless payment is not then excluded from the cheapest fare packages.”
GLA Conservative transport spokesman, Richard Tracey, said: “It is truly impressive to see what TfL can do when they set their mind to it. TfL began discussing this technology in 2010 and in less than 4 years the entire system, which includes thousands of card reading machines, is ready for this technology.
“I have always advocated new transport technologies that provide a better passenger experience at a cost saving for the network. We hope to see TfL put this same zeal into installing driverless trains, which will provide added safety along with huge savings to passengers and the network alike.”