London buses to accept contactless cards


Londoners with contactless credit cards will soon be able to use them to move around the capital more easily. Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed that it plans to introduce contactless technology on public transport, with the first phase focussing on the bus network.

contactless cards TfL

Getting around the capital
At present, Londoners can use cash or touch their Oyster card against an onboard reader to pay for bus journeys. While the Oyster card has made life easier for those using public transport since its introduction in 2003, users still have to remember to top up their card in order to avoid running out of credit.

Now, TfL has confirmed that, as of 2012, people will be able to pay their bus fares via credit card, thanks to the implementation of contactless technology.

Fare payments made easy
Contactless credit cards should have a beneficial impact on those using public transport. According to public sector research group Kable, Visa, Mastercard and American Express will all participate in TfL's adoption of the technology. This means that anyone with a contactless card from one of these providers will be able to use it to pay for their bus journey, without even having to enter their pin.

The technology allows customers to pay for items up to the value of £15 without having to confirm their identity at the point of purchase, although a pin is required from time to time to ensure that the card has not fallen into the wrong hands. The cardholder simply waves the contactless credit card in front of a special reader and the amount is applied to their credit card balance.

Visitors set to benefit
One of the groups most likely to benefit from the introduction of contactless technology on London's buses is tourists, many of whom do not own an Oyster card and make cash payments whenever they travel by bus. TfL told Kable that contactless payments will make the capital "much more accessible to visitors" and should "increase London's attractiveness as a destination for tourism and business."

While the technology will initially be launched on London buses, TfL plans to roll it out over the capital's underground network in the future. This means that passengers on both buses and tube trains will have an alternative to carrying around a separate Oyster card or queuing at ticket machines.


Published: 8 October 2010