Transport for London has hailed the roll-out of contactless payment for bus fares a ‘success’ despite missing its own journey number predictions.
Although “more than 6.5 million” bus journeys have been paid for using a contactless credit or debit card in the past 12 months, TfL had originally predicted 122m in the first full year of operation.
The roll-out of contactless fares across the wider TfL transport network has been significantly delayed and is not expected to happen until next year.
Despite the delays and missed targets, Shashi Verma, TfL’s Director of Customer Experience, said: “It is fantastic that so many people are taking advantage of the ease and convenience of using their contactless payment cards to pay their bus fares.
“Each week we are setting a new record for usage which gives us great confidence for when we launch on the rest of the network and make contactless fully integrated next year.”
TfL has also highlighted figures showing that “around 1,300 new cards are used each day”.
However previously reported figures show that very few of these are used more than once.
Between September 11th-17th, 8,201 new cards were used on the system but the number of cards used per day and fares bought with them rose by just 370 and 560 respectively during the same period.
The figures suggest that passengers are using contactless as an occasional payment method, for example on occasions when their Oyster card has insufficient credit and are not migrating permanently in line with TfL’s predictions.
London Assembly Caroline Pidgeon said “contactless technology has not really caught on with passengers in London.”
“A year after its roll out on London’s 8,500 buses it seems each bus is typically seeing just four fares every day being paid with a bank card.
“Of course contactless payment can sometimes be convenient for people with no cash on them, or when people have a lack of credit on their Oyster card. However, what is clear is that most people are just occasional users and not paying with their bank card on a regular basis.”
Assembly Members have previously expressed concern that the Mayor and TfL may favour contactless cards over Oyster, resulting in higher fares for non-contactless users.
Ms Pidgeon said: “Oyster should always offer the same or cheaper fares than contactless payment. No one should ever be penalised for simply not having a bank card.”