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.