London to lead contactless world

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London will lead the world in 2012 when it will become the first city in the world where passengers are able to access an entire transport network with just a swipe of their contactless bank or credit card.

‘We will be the first in the world to allow the millions using our Tube, trams, buses and trains to benefit from the ease of using this technology,’ says Boris Johnson, Mayor of London.

By the end of 2012 card readers across the whole of the Transport for London (TfL) network will have been upgraded so that a touch of a contactless bank or credit card will allow passengers to touch in and out for pay as you go travel on the bus, Tube, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Tram and London Overground network.

The new system will be up and running on all of London’s 8,000 buses in time for the 2012 Games, enabling quick and easy bus travel for the millions of visitors who will flock to the Capital to enjoy the greatest show on earth.

Mr Johnson continues: ‘It is tip top news that from next year a simple tap of a contactless bank card will be enough to whizz you from A to B in this great city. London leads the way in so many different fields and we will be the first in the world to allow the millions using our Tube, trams, buses and trains to benefit from the ease of using this technology.’

Discussions are also under way with the Train Operating Companies that serve London about whether contactless payment cards could be used on National Rail services where Oyster is currently accepted. Oyster will also continue to be accepted for the many millions of customers who use it every day.

To make the new system possible TfL is upgrading software in the Oyster smartcard system to recognise contactless credit and debit cards issued by Visa, MasterCard and American Express as well as Oyster cards. Customers will be able to touch in with their contactless credit and debit cards in the same way that they can today to make low value purchases in many coffee shops and other retail outlets.

TfL has been at the forefront of ticketing technology for a decade and is renowned for the success of its Oyster smartcard ticketing with over 40 million Oyster cards issued since 2003. TfL has worked closely with the banking industry, including Visa Europe, MasterCard and American Express and card issuers, in order to bring contactless payment to London’s transport network.

Contactless payment will reduce commissions and processing costs for TfL, as well as enabling a reduction in the number of Oyster cards produced and issued. It is another example of TfL’s efforts to operate more efficiently and provide value for money for London’s fare and taxpayers.

Will Judge, TfL’s Head of Future Ticketing, comments: ‘We are leading the way globally with this project, and with over 12 million contactless debit and credit cards already in circulation in the UK, we are confident that this payment option will be widely adopted in the coming years, either as an alternative to Oyster or as a back up for when the Oyster card is left at home.As more people use their bank issued cards to pay for their travel directly, TfL’s costs will reduce, delivering better value for money for London’s fare and taxpayers.’