A meeting with TfL last week, updating us on where it's at with contactless payment, gave us further insight into the system that is due to be rolled out 'shortly' to everyone on the network.
Although giving us no specific date, it looks likely that either the second or third weekend in September will be the 'go live' date, when everyone will be able to use contactless cards to pay for journeys that they currently use Oyster for.
Buses — you'll remember — are currently separate with no daily price capping on them, and only a few thousand people on a pilot have been able to use contactless on the tube. From mid-September, everyone with a contactless card will now be able to pay that way.
TfL has created a new payment method with the the major banking networks (Visa, Mastercard and Amex) to create what they call Transit Transaction Model (TTM). This is a unique payment that charges a zero pound and pence transaction to your card — because unlike the flat fare for buses, the system cannot know how much to deduct until you touch out and your journey is over. The TTM model is something unique to TfL, and it's looking at selling it on to other transport providers in the rest of Europe.
Then, the capping system is being brought up to date to almost match Oyster.
Firstly: capping will work on buses for multiple bus journeys, meaning that you'll never pay more than £4.40 (once you make four journeys by bus in a day you'll pay no more) and daily capping will work on all modes — tube, DLR, bus, tram and trains within the Oyster network too.
And then something brand new: weekly capping that runs from Monday to Sunday, meaning that you can make multiple journeys throughout the week, and it will cap as soon as you get to the price of a weekly travelcard for the zone(s) that you have travelled in. Monthly and annual capping is not yet in place.
It seems that TfL is keen to move away from Oyster and get people using contactless as it moves the transactions onto the banks and off Oyster, meaning that the amount of money spent maintaining the Oyster system can be shrunk back.
TfL also told us that weekly capping would be introduced to Oyster users! Something which is brand new — normally, it only caps for daily usage, but a lot of work into the algorithm that makes the system work has taken place, so it's being extended to Oyster too. It means that people who regularly buy weekly travelcards on Oyster will now never need to do so again. The system will cap you at the price of a weekly automatically, whether on Oyster or contactless, meaning less time spent at ticket machines.
Contactless will therefore work in an identical way to Oyster — including the pink Oyster pads to let the system know if your journey does not go through Zone 1 so you'll get an even cheaper fare.
Photo by Dan Kennedy from the Londonist Flickr pool