Transport for London has confirmed plans to upgrade the capital’s Oyster system to allow payment to allow contactless payment across the “entire transport network” with a compatible bank or credit card.
TfL says London’s entire bus fleet will be upgraded in time for the 2012 Olympics with Tube, DLR, Tram and London Overground network expected to be upgraded by the end of next year.
Work is underway to upgrade the Oyster software to recognise cards issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express which passengers will be able to use for Pay as You Go travel.
In 2006 Barclaycard signed a three year exclusive deal with Transys, the consortium behind the Oyster smartcard system, to develop payment cards which include Oyster capability.That deal led to the Barclaycard OnePulse card.
Since 2007 London has worked with other world cities including Paris and New York to research the potential for contactless payment on their transport networks.
In a statement issued by TfL, 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.”
Hany Fam, President of MasterCard UK & Ireland, said his company have been “working closely with TfL since 2006 to make this shared vision a reality.”
Mark Austin, Visa Europe’s head of contactless products, said he expected “20 million contactless debit and credit cards to be issued by the start of 2012.”
Passenger watchdog London TravelWatch welcomed the move towards contactless fares but expressed disappointment that today’s announcement didn’t include non-TfL rail services.
Spokesperson Jo deBank said: “We know only too well the confusion caused for passengers when Oyster was unavailable on rail, and this should not be allowed to happen again. London has an integrated transport network, and tickets must be integrated too.”