6 July Is The Date London Buses Will Go Cash Free

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Make sure your Oyster card is topped up: from 6 July you won’t be able to pay your fare with coins.

Transport for London had already announced its decision to go cashless on buses, despite the majority of responses to its consultation being against the move. TfL argues that collecting currency is becoming inefficient — 1% of passengers pay with cash, although that equates to 24m journeys a year — and that by stopping it could save up to £130m by 2023.

We’ve previously listed the ways TfL will try to mitigate potential problems with going cashless (a ‘one more journey‘ feature if you don’t have the full fare left on your pay as you go Oyster, more ticket machines and better driver training to make sure vulnerable people aren’t left stranded). But still: this is a significant change in the way some Londoners travel (particularly on the city borders, where Oyster isn’t the dominant mode of payment) and in back-up plans for the rest of us. If you’ve got a contactless debit card, now might be the time to consider using it (though remember that there’s no daily capping on buses at the moment).

Photo by Raphaël Chekroun from the Londonist Flickr pool

Find out more about TfL’s ‘One more journey’ scheme.

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Article by Rachel Holdsworth | 2,473 Articles | View Profile | Twitter

  • jay gatsby

    Well, if UK Multipass rolls out by 2015 then contactless card payment for travel will become the universal norm anyway, which should ease the no doubt slightly bumpy transition noted above (See, http://www.theguardian.com/money/2013/nov/16/sci-fi-multipass-travelcard)

  • MP

    Night Buses are about to become even more fun as drunks don’t realise they have to use their Oyster or contactless debit card to pay. While 1% of passengers still use cash, I still think it should be an option to pay if the Oyster packs up, especially at night.

    • Indigo

      Agreed!

    • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

      Don’t forget bank glitches which can leave your CPC not working!

  • Viv Onslow

    Not great for tourists. How will they work this out?

    • Jon Millwood

      I think tourists were already confused by pay befor you board. I don’t think completly cashless will make it worse.

      Best to encourage purchase of oystercard or day travel cards for tourists.

    • Dorthe Jacobsen

      In February 2014 we grabbed a cab in Chelsea instead of a bus, as the busdriver decided to laugh at us for not having an Oystercard or realizing cash was a no-go mean. This being laughed at happened on a daily basis for 6 days, sooo not ‘in your face’ like for us visitors that you need the OysterCard.
      But then, it may be my fault – I should have kept up with UK changes and political decisions…

    • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

      Don’t forget anyone who’s been overcharged and hence unexpectedly have a negative balance on their oyster card.

    • Anne

      I top up my Oyster card when I arrive at the airport. Tourists aren’t all stupid! ;)

  • Michael Jennings

    The main issue here is what you do about tourists who board a bus, don’t understand how the system works, and just want to ride the bus.

    Many of them will be carrying contactless credit and debit cards that will work fine, but explaining that to them (particularly if there is a language issue) may not always be easy. Cash is the ultimately fallback system.

    • http://wildcabbage.net Eyebee

      In other cities around the world cashless is already the norm. It’s just making sure there are more outlets open more hours.

    • IrvSwerve

      Easy,tell them to get off! How many times has a bus full of
      workers anxious to get to home or work sat waiting several minutesfor an inept travelers to search for cash.

    • aaltruista

      in like almost all countries you need to buy a ticket before getting the bus

  • LavC

    If we only had the possibility to top up oyster anywhere at anytime…but this is not the case! so this would be really annoying for anyone who is forced to find some place to top up…not to mention the difficulty at night.

  • Stuart Dean

    Contactless debit cards are by no means the answer. Depending on what bus you get on you can be stood there at the front getting the “error beep” over and over again on your bank card until it finally works or you get a narky comment from the wonderful drivers TFL employ. Aside from the minor embarrassment, where does that leave people, when the machine just decides to not accept a card that’s fully valid? Taking away the option of cash is utterly ridiculous.

    And therefore exactly what I would expect from TFL.

    • adrian_7580

      All this bleating about buses being card only. Trams in Stuttgart, Germany, have been cashless since at least 1964. WHAT IS THE PROBLEM ?? People need to think ahead or should that just be ‘They need to be able to think’.

      • IrvSwerve

        Hear hear Adrian_7580 Enough of this!

      • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

        What about bank glitches or oyster overcharging?

      • Stuart Dean

        “WHAT IS THE PROBLEM”?

        READ MY POST. THE MACHINES ARE IFFY.
        DO YOU SEE???

  • mnchkty

    What about travelers from other countries ??

    • Ved

      You can pre-order an Oyster card online and either have it delivered to you or arrange to pick it up at the point of entry into London/UK. Airports, and rail stations, and Tube stations have TFL stands as well as Oyster machines.

      The problem isn’t getting the card, the only problem I’ve encountered is when the system overcharges you, and then needs you to use your card again in order to give you a refund, which is not always feasible. I’ve got two refunds waiting to be applied to my Oyster, but I’ve left the country by the time the system figured out its error. I’m doubtful I’ll ever see those refunds, as it takes quite a few phone calls to set it up, and then it also requires for you to tap in at the station where they say the miscalculation occurred. Complicated, to say the least.

  • Bart

    living on the outskirts of London, i regularly find i cant top up past 8pm as all the shops shut and the closest top up machine is a mile and a half away. As i only take the bus if going out in the evening (past 8pm), i have no idea what i am going to do if i find i have no more credit on the card – i dont have contactless debit cards. we need more top-up machines on the outskirts if this is going to work, however TFL seem to ignore that some parts of Kent are still serviced by them…

    • http://wildcabbage.net Eyebee

      Register your card online, and you can check your balance. That way you wouldn’t get caught out. You can then also top up online.

      • opaqueentity

        Mine is set to automatically top up when it hits a set amount

  • lucie2cute

    I think it’s going to take time to work out the issues but they’ve done it here in california but we still have some issues like being able to get one in area’s late at night and only aloud so much on it and when where you paid makes mistakes and if you are charged wrong or something and are traveling and not going back that way we have been blessed the few times it’s happened the bus drivers have been kind they know the differance of the regulars or young kids taking advantage to someone traveling and new and don’t know much about cards or what to do so I’m sure the drivers are understanding somewhat I’m sure they are taught how to handle certain things because even when you do look ahead on a trip everything still might not be in front of you as in just went a few towns over and they had a bus stop out side the train and i’d looked ahead and no phone number on the site so i’m waiting and waiting finally when i see nothing coming I start asking and people were very kind as looking around station no new number for buses even called the one on sign was a home phone number so kind people guided me but these places should have updated info for you as you come into their town i even went down too the next bus area and no buses and no numbers so they told me to go to main road and i don’t even think they had phone number for buses their so you have to wait for a bus to come and hope they have the books showing you where to go and a number for company and this is a place where there are many visitors magic mountain huracaine harbor you would think they would want you to make it safely too these places as they make their money from torists so busses ect still need a lot of work with there systems

    • Bernie

      Blimey, that is the longest sentence I have ever seen!

      • IrvSwerve

        Its stream of consciousness stuff.The lady has been reading too much James Joyce.If you take one long breath it’s quite enjoyable.

      • HHGeek

        They banned punctuation at the same time as they went cashless.

        • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

          It’s another form of cost cutting lol!

          • lucie2cute

            That’s very cruel I should report you I was born in your country thankyou very much when you didn’t teach mothers about german measels very well and thats what came of me a learning disability shame on you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

            Did you mean to direct this at the other poster?

            In any case no offence was meant and apologies for any unintended offence caused.

          • lucie2cute

            if you read what you answered to you will see that they were making fun of my puncuation some people in the world aren’t perfect and shouldn’t be made fun of for it the man said as we were were all talking about cost cutting and he said yes and made a joke saying in other words my puncation was schools or something costcutting too but not so openly then all four of you made a joke about me it was very unkind and I let you all know why not all people are perfect but i thankyou for the apology I appreciate it

          • lucie2cute

            SHUTTING YOUR MOUTH WOULD BE A BIG FORM OF COST CUTTING FOR YOUR COUNTRY WHY DON’T YOU GET A JOB AND DON’T PUT PEOPLE DOWN YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT NOW YOU AND YOUR BUDDIES HAVE MADE MY HOME COUNTRY LOOK LIKE POOP AND A BUNCH OF WHINING BULLIES WITH NOTHING BETTER TO DO !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • lucie2cute

          why don’t you freaks ask why first you’ll be punished my fellow british people you caused what I have you should feel ashamed !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • lucie2cute

          i only hope you suffer or child or grandchild suffer from a disablity someday you will be sorry for your big mouth and i got that disability from your crappy country thankyou very much talk about bulling they should take this site done with these shameful british people on it you make your country look worse than america !!!!!!!

      • lucie2cute

        sorry i have a learning disorder which leaves me doing that and that was from wonderful england and german measles back in 1968-69

  • Nigel

    Rachel has stated that more training not to leave vulnerable people behind. This already happens. As a bus driver I have NOW more people trying to get on without paying then people paying cash fare. And if we let someone travel TFL fine the bus company over £350 per person. So if they drop this fine. So if TFL change that it not the driver responalbilty that a passenger travel without means of travel and have more revenue inspector to deal with these passenger.

    • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

      How do TfL find out., if you let someone one without paying? Don’t you give them UFNs?

      I agree that this will lead to fare evasion rising- don’t forget the Borismasters which are a boom for faredodgers -at the expense of honest folk :(

  • jem

    I think cash is important. What if you forget your oyster card, or are late and dunning to catch a bus, or if you don’t have enough cash to buy a new oyster and load on. I think Cash should always be allowed to be used! It is silly to cut it out.

  • Dorthe Jacobsen

    In February 2014 we grabbed a cab in Chelsea instead of a bus, as the busdriver decided to laugh at us for not having an Oystercard or realizing cash was a no-go mean. This being laughed at happened on a daily basis for 6 days, sooo not ‘in your face’ like for us visitors that you need the OysterCard.
    But then, it may be my fault – I should have kept up with UK changes and political decisions… it is my job to keep up.

    • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

      You should have reported that rude behaviour to TfL if the driver refused to accept your cash payment- providing that you had exact change

      • lucie2cute

        you have enough balls to say report someone why don’t you report yourself and do us all a favor my by you will suffer disabilitys one day !!!!!!

  • James Griffin

    I thought they did this about 10 years ago!

    • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

      20% of bus journeys were paid by cash a decade ago!

  • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

    This is a bad move.

    It’s been deliberately pushed since Oyster was introduced- the cash fares have been artificially inflated for years to railroad people into using Oyster.

  • sasseymills

    surely I can’t be the only person in London who has registered their Oyster card and has an automatic top up? I mean it’s sooooo easy!

    • MP

      Not everyone has £20 per time to use auto-top up.

    • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

      I’ve been overcharged wrongly enough times to not trust TfL with a CPA (Continuous Payment Authority) aka Auto Top-up!

      • sasseymills

        but you can have a monthly statement emailed to you to check the charges. I’ve had the odd overcharge usually due to congestion at a gate and have always been able to sort it out on-line and get my refund within the next day or two. I’ve never experienced an overcharge on a bus.

        • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

          By the time the monthly statement arrives it’s too late lol! You’ve been overcharged, possibly facing unauthorised OD charges or going over your credit limit, etc..
          Well remember that maximum fares don’t count towards the daily cap and that oysters with a negative balance won’t allow further travel (unless you have a bus pass season ticket and use the bus)

  • Philip Morgan

    We introduced cashless travel on the bus in Montreal and within six months they reintroduced exact cash payment The reason was tourists, absence of an Opus card and people of limited means. They were told it was a dumb idea but the short sighted transport company would not listen. It seems London has the same problem with short sighted incompetent people as Monreal.

    • Jack

      Philip, can you give any details as to when this took place? I have done some google searching but can’t find any articles or documents. I am absolutely opposed to the plan in London.

      • http://londona729.blogspot.co.uk/ londona729

        I couldn’t find any information on that either

  • debbie blake

    I think going cash free is a brilliant idea.It gets us to stop expecting things to work out themselves and start topping up oysters to continue our journey.This should have happened years ago,and stopped fare hoppers.
    Please ensure your drivers don’t let us skip the fare .Its unfair to the people that have to pay.,that’s why the oysters always rising fares.

  • Diffy

    I live a long way outside London and only visit the capital perhaps once every 2/3 years. I don’t have a contactless debit card and don’t have an oyster card. How can I make an unplanned journey on a London bus?

    • Causton

      Buy a paper travelcard.

  • Tess Bryan

    I just tried to top up online, and also claim my refund due to the system making an error and leaving me in minus figures last weekend. Even though I have paid the money to top up, it won’t become active until I tap in at a nominated railway station, so I can’t use it on the bus I need to take me to the station. What if there is no shop within walking distance. Have you seen how many glitches there are on the Oyster system daily? Just check out TFLs twitter there’s constantly stations where the system had gone down, leaving people unable to tap in/out, and probably leaving loads in minus figures through no fault of their own. TFL should learn to walk before they run. It’s all very well TFL trotting the “one more journey” placation down our throats every time we query this, but a lot of people need 2 buses. Or you may get home, but still need to get to a shop to top up.

  • Alex

    TfL really needs to re-think its cashless idea. Its just going to confuse infrequent users of the bus network even more. Perhaps what TfL should do is keep cash fares, but do what’s done on the continent and have one fares structure for all public transport in London (e.g.: £1,50 for one zone and £0,20 being added on for each zone), and being able to change from one vehicle to another (as long as you stay within a time limit (e.g.: 90 minutes), and having to validate your ticket by placing it in a machine when you first use it, and when you change from one route to another. Sorted!

  • tweety

    So you’ve got coin of the realm and banknotes in your pocket, you want to get on a bus, and you can’t. Some mindless beancounter has worked this out – daft in the extreme.

  • nick

    Okay but we will need top up points, specially at night!!

  • daria maria

    What tfl has not taken into account was that this further encouragement of the use of contactless debit cards will result in an increase in the number of hackers/hack cases because those such cards are easily broken into. Not only is this inconvenient for anyone’s economy, it’s also a threat.
    I hope that this cash-free change will be reconsidered.

  • el bib

    what about the unemployed who only get the bus if they really need too,do they have to shell out their weekly food budget on a bloody card they will hardly ever use,what about those without mobile phones or bank accounts.what if you only want to go 3 or 4 stops.it might save the regular travelling commuter money buts its a absoloute nightmare for people on a low budget who have no phone job or bank account.the only account i have is a post office account

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