The capital’s passenger watchdog says it opposes plans to axe cash bus fares, and warns the change could leave vulnerable passengers unable to get home.
Transport for London says it’s considering axing cash fares because they now account for less than one percent of all bus journeys.
It also says that the majority of passengers using cash do so when discovering their Oyster card has insufficient credit after boarding the bus, and that such passengers now have the option to use ‘wave & pay’ fares which are cheaper than cash.
The introduction of ‘wave & pay’ is expected to see the number of cash journeys fall even further.
Interested groups and members of the public can give their views on the future of cash fares in a TfL consultation which runs until October 11th.
In its response to the consultation, London TravelWatch says “removing cash as a means of payment is not acceptable”.
The passenger watchdog claims vulnerable passengers and those on low incomes could be left stranded, especially late at night when they’re unable to find an Oyster outlet to top-up at.
TfL has previously said that bus drivers have discretion to ensure the safety of vulnerable passengers.
In addition, it is considering allowing Oyster card holders with insufficient credit to make a single bus journey which would be paid for when they next topped up their card.
The ‘overdraft’ facility would be funded by the deposit passengers pay for their Oyster card, meaning there is no risk of financial loss to TfL.
However TravelWatch warns the ability to dip into the deposit would be “insufficient if the person needs to take two buses to complete their journey.”
Scrapping cash fares would save TfL £24m per year, money it says could be reinvested into the bus network to improve services for passengers.
To read and comment on the proposals visit www.tfl.gov.uk/cashless.