Cash fares are to be axed from the capital’s bus network this Summer meaning passengers will need a Travelcard, Oystercard or new contactless debit or credit card to travel.
In August Transport for London announced plans, subject to consultation, to remove cash fares after they fell from 20 percent of journeys in 2003 to less than one percent.
Over the past decade passengers have increasingly adopted the capital’s Oyster smartcard system which offers cheaper fares than paying with cash.
TfL says recognising changing purchasing habits and axing cash fares will free up £24m per year which can be re-invested in the bus network.
In December 2012 TfL started accepting payment via contactless debit and credit cards and is expected to introduce this new payment method to Tube, DLR and London Overground services later this year.
The capital’s transport authority says this will see cash account for an ever smaller proportion of transactions.
According to TfL just a third of the 37,000 responses to its consultation backed the proposal to remove cash fares.
Objections to the plans included concerns that passengers could find themselves stranded if they lacked sufficient funds on the Oyster and that vulnerable passengers could find themselves stranded.
TfL says it will address these concerns by allowing passengers with less than the cost of a single bus fare (currently £1.45) but with a positive balance on their card to make one more bus journey before they have to add credit to their card.
It has also undertaken to review the spread of retailers offering Oyster top-up to see if additional locations are needed, and to ensure the capital’s 24,500 London bus drivers receive “refreshed guidance” on how to assist vulnerable passengers travelling without a valid ticket.
There will also be a public information campaign to increase awareness of contactless payment cards and Oyster pay as you go.
TfL insists the removal of cash fares “will not affect 99 per cent of bus passengers”.
Leon Daniels, Managing Director for Surface Transport said: “The decision to stop accepting cash fares on London buses reflects the changing way that people pay for goods and services in our city, including journeys on the bus network.
“We are introducing a range of measures, including a new ‘one more journey’ feature on Oyster cards, which will ensure that people can still make a journey and then top up their card when they don’t have the full fare.
“Paying with Oyster or a contactless payment card is not only the cheapest option, but also speeds up boarding times at bus stops and reduces delays. It costs £24 million a year to accept cash on London’s buses and by removing this option we will generate significant savings which, like all of our income, will be reinvested in improvements to the transport network.”
Caroline Pidgeon AM, Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Group on the London Assembly, said: “The long term decline in use of cash fares on buses cannot be denied. Nor can we overlook the fact that cash fares are a bad deal for passengers while at the same time are very expensive for provide to TfL.
“It does also seem that TfL have listened to some concerns raised in the recent consultation about these changes. I especially welcome the provision of a ‘one more journey’ feature on Oyster, as well as a review of the Oyster Ticket Stop network to see if additional locations might be necessary.
“However, I remain concerned about young people facing problems travelling on night-time buses if cash fares are completely ended this Summer.
“Ending cash fares might make sense on many bus routes, but I think a case for ending them on night-time bus routes has yet to be made.”