Transport for London is consulting on proposals to scrap cash fares on buses.
Since the introduction of Oyster in 2003, the number of passengers paying in cash has fallen from 20 percent to less than one percent.
Transport for London says the majority of those still paying cash are doing so because they discover their Oyster card has insufficient credit after boarding the bus.
With the recent introduction of contactless ‘wave & pay’ cards this number is expected to fall even further.
TfL has helped drive the take-up of Oyster by charging a higher cash fare, partly in recognition of the higher costs associated with processing cash transactions.
The current Oyster Pay As You Go fare is £1.40, £1 less than the cash equivalent.
Oyster users also benefit from fare capping, ensuring they never pay more than £4.40 on a single day. Fare caps, including a new weekly cap, will soon be extended to contactless cards.
TfL says axing cash fares will free up £24m per year which can be re-invested in the bus network and speed up boarding for passengers.
Under other measures being considered, passengers with insufficient credit could be allowed to make a single bus journey which would be paid for when they next topped up their card.
This would ensure passengers could get home safely or get to the nearest nearest station or Oyster Ticket Stop to top-up their card and complete their journey.
Launching the consultation, TfL’s Leon Daniels, said: “The proposals we are consulting on reflect the changing way that our customers pay for their journeys – with the vast majority now benefiting from the best possible fares and the convenience that Oyster and contactless payment cards deliver.
“It costs £24 million a year to accept cash on buses and with so few customers paying cash it makes sense for us to consider removing it. The savings made can then be invested into making further vital improvements to the capital’s transport network.”
The public consultation opens today and closes on 11 October 2013. To read and comment on the proposals visit www.tfl.gov.uk/cashless.