From today Tube, rail and DLR passengers can choose to pay for their journeys direct from their bank account by using a contactless debit card.
Contactless – or Wave & Pay – fares were first introduced on the bus network in 2012 since when Transport for London says daily use has grown to almost 60,000 journeys per day.
That number is expected to grow significantly following today’s roll-out of the feature to the capital’s rail services.
Journeys paid for with a contactless debit or credit card are charged at the cheaper Oyster rate and regular travellers will benefit from daily and weekly caps limiting their fares to the same cost as a travelcard.
To ensure they benefit from the caps, TfL is reminding passengers that they should always pay with the the same card.
It’s also warning them to ensure they only touch one card on the reader and to keep any Oyster and contactless cards separate in their wallets and purses to avoid accidentally paying with the wrong card.
TfL says passengers who switch from Oyster to contactless will save time by not having to top up a second card but stresses Oyster will remain available for passengers who wish to continue using it.
Passengers who sign-up for a free online account and register their card will be able to view their journey history and check their fares via the TfL website.
Shashi Verma, TfL’s Director of Customer Experience, said: “Accepting contactless payments on transport in London is a fantastic achievement for our city – it provides our customers with the most convenient way to pay for their travel and highlights the capital’s position as a world leader in transport ticketing, technology and customer service.”
A number of London Assembly members have expressed concern that passengers who continue paying by Oyster will not initially benefit from weekly fares capping.
TfL says this is because the technology which powers Oyster is difficult to modify to support the feature, but says future updates will allow this and other benefits to be introduced.
However Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group, says TfL and Mayor Boris Johnson “have had many years to ensure equity of fares exists between Oyster and contactless payment, but he completely failed to ensure this is the case”.
She added: “We are now in the situation where we have a weekly cap on fares for people using contactless payment, but this is denied to people who rely on Oyster PAYG.
“That is unfair and penalising some of the poorest Londoners who either have no bank account facilities, or simply do not have enough money to pay upfront for a weekly or monthly pass.”
That view was echoed by Labour’s Val Shawcross, who said: “TfL has continually promised that Oyster will always carry the cheapest fares, introducing a new way to pay shouldn’t change that.
“It is particularly important given that 440,000 people in London do not have bank accounts and a vast number more will not have access to contactless payment cards.”