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Transport for London to introduce Contactless Credit Card Payments

24th February 2011

Transport for London (TfL), the executive agency controlling the city's major public transport networks, has announced its plan to use contactless credit cards as a more efficient payment system. Major credit and debit cards such as those issued by Visa, MasterCard, and American Express will now be accommodated to pay for fares in buses, the tube, trams, the London Overground, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), even luxury coaches. What's best, this shift to a more convenient payment system will be launched just in time for the 2012 Summer Olympics when commuter traffic will be expected to be particularly heavy.

Bus Commuters Get to Take Advantage First

The bus transport system, with over 8,000 of these public vehicles in commission in London, will get the first taste of this high-tech payment system. And this is but understandable as buses carry more passengers on a daily basis than other forms of commuter transport in the city.

Benefits to the Passengers

This future use of contactless credit and debit cards in the London transport system has a whole lot of advantages to the commuters. These are:

  1. Never ever needing change again. You know how it is when you're particularly in a hurry and you just can't seem to find change for your bus fare? With the contactless card payment system, this will never be cause for travel delays any more.
  2. Faster payment transactions every time. Contactless credit cards only have to be placed in front and within four inches of the reader. So all those long queues in transport terminals to touch in and out will be eliminated. Of course, this ultimately means lesser travel time, improving overall the commuters' quality of life.
  3. More efficient recording system. The need to carry multiple cards to pay for daily transportation will be a thing of the past. And since all fare costs are debited from the owners' credit or debit card accounts, a more efficient recording system of these daily living expenses will be made possible. No longer will you need to constantly track how much you've topped up your electronic ticketing cards just to monitor these costs.
  4. Tourists get to benefit too. Once this improved payment system gets completely rolled out, the entire public transport system in London will be capable of accommodating major credit cards. Not only that, cards which have been issued abroad, so long as these are from major banks, can be accepted by the contactless credit card payment system as well. This essentially means more mobility to the visitors or tourists!

Benefits to the Transport System Operators

Not only will London's commuters be afforded with a whole lot of perks with the future use of contactless cards. In fact, even London's transport system will experience a number of boosts as well. These are:

  1. Costs to deliver transport services will considerably be lowered. Forwarding a contactless credit card card payment system will definitely lower the operational costs because:
    • The need for mechanical terminals will be eliminated. This then means that costs to maintain or repair these terminals due to malfunction or misuse will be totally eliminated.
    • TfL will no longer have to commission large-scale production of Oyster cards, the electronic payment system currently in place, once the contactless credit card scheme takes effect in mid 2012.
  2. Better value for the commuters' money will be provided. Of course, because TfL will get to save, reasonable rates across all types of public transportation will then be made available to commuters.
  3. Precious data can now provide insight to commuter behavior. Use of the contactless credit and debit cards in the London transport system also forwards efficient harvesting of data.
    • Virtually all travel records will be stored in the commuters' credit or debit card transaction histories. Such data can then be used by TfL to assess commuter travel patterns to come up with better routes and schedules.
    • With data about travel patterns and passenger preferences, TfL will then be able to assess where to best allocate resources so as to provide better services and improved passenger safety.
    • Lastly, the availability of passenger data will pave the way for more targeted marketing schemes. Loyalty programs which offer more value for folks who frequently use their credit cards instead of cash to pay for public transport can now be devised, not just by the TfL, but by the issuing banks as well.