Boris Hints Contactless May Kill Off Oyster

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 43 months ago
Boris Hints Contactless May Kill Off Oyster

Photo by Gábor Hernádi from the Londonist Flickr pool

Contactless payment is coming to the tube, DLR, trams, Overground and some rail services on 16 September — and you'd better get used to it. Mayor Boris Johnson was in front of the London Assembly earlier today and appears to have dropped a bit of a clanger, saying Transport for London ultimately wants to replace Oyster with contactless payment.

It's the not the first time he's said something similar — and not the first time TfL has had to row back; Commissioner Peter Hendy, sitting next to Boris, had to quickly clarify that Oyster will be around for a "very long time". And it's not the first time we've speculated about it ourselves (if more people use contactless, that means less money TfL has to spend running Oyster). TfL's official policy is that Oyster isn't going away, but if that's the case someone should probably have a word with the Mayor... We suspect contactless will ultimately supercede Oyster, with all the concerns about limiting access for people without debit cards that entails, just because it's cheaper for TfL to run.

Other news from the meeting is also disappointing for Oyster users: weekly capping, which will be available on contactless, won't be making its promised debut on Oyster Pay As You Go for some time. Peter Hendy said that while it's technically possible, it's not currently technically possible. TfL told us in August:

"This is a complex process as it requires changes not only to the card readers but also to our back office and retailing systems. We need to ensure that the solution we identify provides a smooth and painless transition for customers. In the meantime customers can purchase a weekly travelcard on their Oyster which will ensure they receive the same fare benefits."

Don't hold your breath, in other words.

Last Updated 10 September 2014


Phasing out Oyster: absolutely horrible idea, especially if they think they can replace "monthly Oyster Zone 1-3" with "touch-in and touch-out with you bank debit card everywhere and always be careful where you're going and ooooh, you went to Zone 4 for one little stop for one journey for one day in a month? Oooh I guess this month we will cap you on monthly Zone 1-4.. hehehe". Terrible, evil, horrible.
Plus all the obvious problems that many people do not have or want contactless debit cards (I do have one, and love paying with it, but do *not* want to use it for PAYG TfL travel!).


Why don't you want to use it? I joined the trial. It works fine.
I used to top up with the same credit card anyway. Contactless just saves mucking about.