/ Money, Motoring, Technology

Are you ready for a cashless bus service?

London bendy bus

You’re already running late for work when the bus finally turns up later than it was due. The route is chock-a-block and then the person getting on in front of you fishes out the coppers to pay for their journey.

Sound familiar? Ok, so it’s a minor problem in the grand scheme of things, but this will soon be a complaint of the past in the capital.

From 6 July, all London buses will go completely cashless and passengers will only be able to ride using an Oyster, contactless payment card or certain prepaid tickets.

Transport for London says that removing cash fares will speed up boarding times and lead to faster journeys saying:

‘Customers will not only benefit from a quicker, cheaper and more convenient method of paying their bus fare; it will also enable us to save millions of pounds each year – which will be reinvested in further improvements to the capital’s transport network.’

London is your Oyster

It’s hard to imagine that the change will have a significant negative impact on the day-to-day life of commuters – Oyster cards are ubiquitous among the wallets and purses of the capital’s residents and, as the use of cash generally continues to dwindle, visitors and tourists will also be able to pay easily for their journeys with contactless cards.

Now it’s going to take a bit of adjusting – not everyone has a contactless payment card yet and visitors might not be as familiar with the Oyster scheme, and could face difficulties getting around the city.

Personally, the idea of a slicker, speedier bus network makes perfect sense and registering for auto Oyster top-up would ease those situations when you’re out of credit. Londoners, do you also welcome cash free buses?

And for those of you outside the capital, would you like to see the end of pounds and pence on transport in your region? Or do you find buses a convenient way to use up your loose change?

Comments
Guest
PGS says:
18 July 2014

This morning, while on a bus, I saw a young man with a heavy suitcase get on. He apologised to the driver for only having cash. The driver let him travel for free. This suggests they are willing to be flexible in certain cases.

The passenger in this instance was British, lucid, apparently competent and armed with mobile phone and Costa coffee. This suggests that even the most “together” of travellers can sometimes find themselves without a card. Old, young or disabled people are at even more of a disadvantage.

I remain convinced that an absolute ban on cash is an unarguably daft idea. It is interesting that so many contributors to this conversation take the opposite view. It’s a fait accompli now, so I suppose we’ll just have to put up with it.

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Guest

One element missing from some contributions to this conversation is tolerance. “The passenger who had trouble describing their destination” and held up the bus. It happens. The passenger struggling to find the right money – it happens. It makes you late for work! – get away a bit earlier! No one is perfect – not even the regular traveller with an Oyster card – it may be hard to find. Why are we so rushed in our lives that we cannot accept the frailties and difficulties others face – elderly (a bit slow to find their purse), disabled (they may hold up your bus by struggling to get on), children, strangers. It is time we were more considerate and ran our lives accordingly – one day we will all be old and need to be tolerated.

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Guest

Well said, Malcolm! But the corollary to that is that the very same people who are intolerant of other people causing them delays, expect tolerance to be shown to them when they themselves cause a hold-up. Such is the way of the world!

Guest
Max Wild says:
28 July 2014

Of course we should encourage tolerance but that is not the nub of the problem. Technological advances allow us to move away from expensive cash to more efficient electronic payments. This is nothing to do with tolerance.
In fact freeing the driver of the palaver of cash will allow more time for advice to those unfamiliar with the route etc..

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Guest

Yes, Max. Most of us here are agreeing with that!

Guest
PGS says:
29 July 2014

Another eyewitness account of the practical side of not accepting cash. This morning a young man with a small boy got on a number 72 bus. The boy sat down while the man had a conversation with the driver. After a while the father called to the boy “We’ve got to get off – they won’t accept cash”. As the bus pulled off they were standing on the pavement looking worried. It is not clear how or if they ever managed to get to their destination.

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Guest

No doubt the father and son would appreciate that this is all done for the sake of efficiency.

Maybe we should have barcodes tattooed on our forehead or have ourselves ‘chipped’ like dogs and cats so that we have means of electronic payment at all times.

Guest
Richard P Beauchamp says:
29 July 2014

No need for barcodes or chips to use the NHS.

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Guest

Quite right, Richard. Instead you need personal registration with identity checks (birth certificate, passport, etc. and an affidavit from a GP) with at least two government agencies. Hospital treatment needs authorization from a GP except in emergency, and a full search of your person (possibly internally) may have to be provided. If I’m just getting onto a bus, I’d go for waving a card at the driver any day, even if I had to prove my creditworthiness to someone to get the card in the first place. Carry cash? Why bother, unless I was out with criminal intent and needed to be invisible?

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Guest

Therer should be no need for this to be about one or the other. There are enough people here who feel cash should be an alternative. no doubt the regulars will use cards and speed up things – it is the irregulars who also need consideration. A bit like the banking debate and cheques – enough want to keep cheques, so they have been included.

Guest
Max Wild says:
29 July 2014

Cheques have not disappeared yet because there is not yet a really good alternative. As soon as there is they will!!
Cashless payment for transport has been an alternative to cash for at least 10 years so now is the right time to end cash.

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Guest

In view of the comments from people who want to keep a cash (and cheque) alternative, with sensible reasons, I see no logic leading to that conclusion. 🙂

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Guest

At the risk of repeating what’s put often by many on page one above, Malcolm, here’s a logical summary:

1) every sum paid for a fare costs a few pence little to administer.

2) except for cash, whose cost-per-person is now most of, or more than, the sum being paid as a fare.

TfL won’t (obviously) give the exact figure, but in common with other transport systems where cash is a minority payment method, it’s far, far more expensive to administer and guard the whole cash payments system than for any other method. Cheques are a similar case, except that the amounts involved are usually much higher. If banks charged the actual cheque handling cost, people would find an alternative PDQ. Even businesses aren’t charged the full cost of handling cheque transactions, and this doesn’t include their own costs of cheque handling.

Typical: handle a cheque: £2.50. Take a debit card payment: 4p.
Handling 1 cash payment taken on a bus: guesstimate £1.20. Take a cashless payment: 4p.

QED; logic is involved.

Of course, allowing cash to be used to pay for fares could be called a charitable contribution from other travellers. OK, but why not just take a whip-round on the bus? It’d cost less.

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Guest

This is about a public service providing people with what they need, and clearly some have different needs from others. The logic is not about reducing everything to minimum cost. If you ran the buses purely on your model of minimum cost, you would stop some out-of-hours routes, take out some routes completely and just run the most profitable at times that attracted the most passengers.

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Guest

As an example of logic I am bemused by the suggestion :
” Of course, allowing cash to be used to pay for fares could be called a charitable contribution from other travellers. OK, but why not just take a whip-round on the bus? It’d cost less. ”
I am not clear who you are going to give the cash to in a cashless system.

Whilst DiN has forcefully made the the case for cheapness there does appear to be a blind spot on what is preferable and being human. Having us all tagged for proper ID would be efficient, doing all voting on-line would be cheaper, standardising car designs would be both cheaper and more efficient.

TfL has a monopoly and therefore is in a position to enforce whatever is good for it – however as a quasi-public body it also needs to look at whether any of its procedures are reasonable and robust. The cloning of Oyster cards was an open secret 4 years after they were introduced and I have no doubt the new card due in 2015 may also be clonable .

And not everything is wonderful in card land, I rarely don’t realise when I believe I have paid in cash that I have not.

” The use of Oyster cards on buses has been subject to criticism following a number of successful criminal prosecutions by TfL of bus passengers whose Oyster card, when checked by Revenue Protection Inspectors, did not show that the passenger had “touched in” correctly on boarding.[78][79][80] In particular, problems have been highlighted in connection with the quality of error messages given to passengers when touching in has failed for any reason. In one case, a passenger successfully appealed against his conviction for fare evasion when the court noted that the passenger believed he had paid for his journey because the Oyster reader did not give sufficient error warning.[81][82]

In 2011, London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon obtained figures from the Mayor of London which revealed that in 2010, £60million had been taken by TfL in maximum Oyster fares. The statistics also detailed a “top ten” of stations where maximum fares were being collected, notably Waterloo and London Bridge. In her criticism of the figures, Pidgeon claimed that “structural problems” with the Oyster system were to blame, such as faulty equipment failing to register cards and difficulty in obtaining refunds.[83][84] A report by BBC London highlighted the system of “autocomplete” (in which Oyster cards journeys are automatically completed without the need to physically touch out, exceptionally used when large crowds are exiting stations) as particularly problematic.[85]
Wikipedia

I think it inhuman to expect everybody to be au fait with cards, to insist humans never forget, and to believe that automatic top-ups will never be screwed up by your bank. Certainly incentivise people to pay by card and charge extra 10p 20p or 50p on top of the trip value. Nobody willingly will wish to pay more but circumstances will arise.

I have given money to people before who have lost purses, wallets etc who need to get home but that is not going to do them much good as I am not sure I would pay for taxis.

Guest
Nigel says:
30 July 2014

I only visit London occasionally, so don’t have an oyster card – it would be pointless and I’d never be able to find it. So now I can’t use buses.
What about tourists.? I remember being in Pisa and having to find a shop that sold bus cards – it was a time wasting hassle. Maybe London doesn’t want the money tourism brings.!

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Guest

I would love for those who support the ban on use of cash to meet some of the people who have not been allowed to travel because they don’t have a valid card. Maybe they might be in that position themselves one day.

I don’t want to use cash on buses in the same way as I don’t want to use cheques. But I do realise that there are reasons for retaining the option to do so.

Perhaps we should get a grip of reality and remember that efficiency is important but looking after people is too.

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Guest

@ dieseltaylor, nigel, wavechange: all good points, but the bottom line isn’t having options – there are plenty of those and I think that those available are fair. It’s that paying by cash when it’s a rarely-used option is desperately expensive to the system. When cash was tendered often, that was a different situation, and the admin cost per ticket was low. Now it’s essentially an emergency option, we have to look at cost-effectiveness – which TfL have done. Once the contactless card option is available, all but a few users will have another emergency option, so cash will be even less viable. TfL can’t allow limitless conveniences; otherwise we’d have all-night, every 10 minute buses, running almost empty. Very expensive to do, but why penalize those who want to travel at 3am? Or 3.10 am?

No. Cash has joined the list of ‘options we’d like to have if it isn’t too costly’ – but costly it is, and it must go to keep prices down. Efficiency is important, and we have to remember to look after the people reasonably, not unreasonably.

My ‘whip-round-on-the-bus’ was an ironic joke and not meant to be logical.

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Guest

David – I am not suggesting that use of cash should be anything other than an emergency option.

How about a cash box that could be emptied once a month? It would deny the opportunity to give change but would not cost much to run or significantly delay anyone else.

How would you fare if you or someone in your family had lost their cards late at night or been the victim of a pickpocket? I had this happen in another country and recently I left my wallet when visiting a friend. In both cases I had cash available, so neither incident was a problem.

I have been very much against any form of disruption throughout my life, but perhaps the best advice for anyone with cash but no card to refuse to leave the bus and let the driver call the police. That might introduce delays for other passengers.

Guest
Prudence says:
30 October 2014

Is that true David; that your Gp has to authorise any stay in hospital unless it is an emergency? I’m intrigued…I’ve never heard this before..

Guest
Cllr David Durant says:
2 August 2014

THE CASH FARE RAISED MORE THAN IT COST TO ADMINISTER.

The TfL estimate was that between 60,000 and 85,000 paid the cash fare every day. Settle for 70,000 and this means the [extra] pound was raising an [extra] £25.5 million a year [on top of the non-cash fare]. More than the forecast administrative saving of £24 million in 6 years’ time!

Also between £30 -£77 million remains as credit on the Oyster cards every year. Thus even if cashless fares ever did cost more to administer than they raised, money from the Oyster cards could pay the difference.

Indeed passengers will now top up extra [just in case] and this will put extra on and leave even more credit on their Oyster cards every year.

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Guest

Thanks David – it’s good to have some facts added to this conversation to help put some perspective on the issues discussed.

Guest
Bazjay says:
2 August 2014

I agree with David. And even if his sums turned out to be not quite right, I’d still come back to the point I made earlier in this conversation. London is a wealthy city and the Mayor controls a huge budget. He has put the fares up by more than inflation – sometimes a lot more – every year since he took office. And what has he done with that extra money, apart from wasting millions on a new bus design? Even if only morally, he should in all fairness (apologies for the pun) continue the cash-fare service for those who may need it.

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Guest

You’ve posted this once already and on neither occasion have you told us how much it costs to administer cash fares. On you figures that sum would be around £50 million, of which only £25 million is contributed to by the higher fare paid. The difference is what will be saved.

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Guest

Yes, thank for reminding us of these figures, Cllr Durant. But you still don’t say how much the total admin costs just for cash transactions were in, say, 2012 – TfL would surely have them, to argue their case to the Mayor, and a public body has public accounts and papers. But let’s assume that these costs were 3/4 of the total saving in 2020 (inflation adjusted?) Call this £18 million a year, divided between 31 million cash-paid journeys out of a total of about 2000 million journeys a year. That’s about 60p a journey, well covered by the extra £1 a journey for paying by cash, which only one in 65 people did.

So in one way, the extra £1 more than pays for extra staff and equipment and the security cover for all the cash handling. And reinstating cash payments (and a big sign warning about the £1 surcharge) – as many have said here – covers the odd emergency. In another way, it does mean delays on an already overcrowded system and the security risks for drivers of having cash on board (which drivers have mentioned).

Maybe wavechange’s comment just above, of having a larger secure box, accessible only in depot (maybe from underneath), emptied as it fills, would be a solution, needing much less handling. This would require coins only, checked visually by driver as before, but who then registers the journey electronically. The cash is then forgotten except for the box being unloaded as it is full and send directly to secure centre by secure carrier from the depot. Of course, it would cost a few million to re-equip the 7500 buses!

TfL has decided to go the cashless route for now. Only a strong public reaction would change this back in a few years time. I don’t buy the ‘It’s putting off the tourists, who will stop visiting London” argument. It certainly made no difference in San Francisco, which went cashless only a few years ago!

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Guest

DIN- I would point out that tokens have been in use of transport services since at least 1966 when I lived in Toronto. The great virtue of the tokens were they were small and if you wanted tio help a fellow passenger you could give them a token – unlike the card only approach.

Cash therefore not on the bus but at sales points seems to have worked satisfactorily:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toronto_Transit_Commission_fares

Solves the cash problem on buses very simply – and I suspect many people would carry them as emergency alternatives if there are reader problems or failed top-ups.

Guest
Cllr David Durant says:
2 August 2014

I did twice. The TfL consultation said removing cash fares would result in a forecast saving of £24 million in administration costs [in 6 years time].

The extra £1 cash fare already raises £25.5 million extra a year. The entire cash fare raises £61.2 million.

Guest
PGS says:
3 August 2014

There’s some interesting discussion here about the cost of collecting cash fares. But cost is not the only factor. This is a public transport service, and should be run for the benefit of the passengers, not the convenience of TfL.

For the past 100 years or so cash was the ONLY way to pay a bus fare, and I can’t believe it’s suddenly become all too difficult and expensive. Oyster cards and contactless cards are great, but don’t ban cash altogether.

See my earlier post for an eyewitness account of passengers stranded because they haven’t got the right sort of payment.

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Guest

It would be worth everyone’s while if they read the management documents here:

http://www.london.gov.uk/mayor-assembly/mayor/mayoral-decisions/MD1310

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Guest

Nick Davies – I really appreciate when research is supplied to add substance to a debate. These Which? Conversations are virtually always started without helpful information to frame the discussion.

I have read the .pdf and the two things that strike me is that if the central London buses have been cashless since 2003 then people who may have travelled on them cannot and thus are not in the survey. The roadside machines where they could buy tickets for cash , I believed were discontinued in March 2013. In 2011 around £6m of tickets were paid for in cash at these machines which is around four million journeys. I do wonder if they were included in the survey

Secondly, is 60,000 people per day a significant figure. In a way it is as that is a UK constituency worth. The discovery that 50% of cash payers have forgotten their cards or do not have funds I think rather proves the point that there needs to be a fallback.

Tokens would be simplest but I have to say I suspect that there is a considerable vested interest in making people travel having idntifiable cards and enabling the plotting of journeys. The 3% of passengers who had no bank accounts or preferred to pay cash surely need some consideration.

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Guest

One of concerns raised in the consultation that preceded introduction of cashless buses was:
“the need to ensure that bus drivers are fully aware of TfL’s current policy of not leaving vulnerable people stranded if they do not have any means of payment other than cash.” (See the link posted by Nick)

I would like to know what TfL is doing if people – particularly the vulnerable – have no means to pay other than cash. I hope TfL is keeping records because they may need them in the event of a serious incident where someone is not allowed to travel. I wonder how happy the bus drivers are with having to turn down cash.

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Guest

How do you judge who is a “vulnerable person”? You certainly cannot tell by looking at them – they don’t all have distinguishing features. It is unfair to place this responsibility on a driver.
Public transport is supposed to provide a public service, and not run simply for TfL’s convenience -economic or logistical. Cash should be accepted as a fall back – as has been said – but at a premium fare to cover the alleged cost (although I always take a cynical view of accountants figures when deriving costs). We spend enough money on vehicles – I doubt that adding a secure cash machine that issues a suitable card is that big a deal. If cost is an issue then a small increase in council tax for some London boroughs would fund it.

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Guest

As I have said before, I am keen to retain the option to use cash where there is no practical alternative. Vulnerable people, whether this is apparent or not, must be the most important reason for this.

I certainly don’t want drivers to have to decide between what their employer and their conscience demand.

Guest
Max Wild says:
4 August 2014

This thread seems to be rambling on and on and actually getting nowhere.
My final comment is to wonder if a century ago we would have been having a similar discussion about the disappearance of farriers from the major cities. Would there have been some of us concerned that the rapidly declining users of horse and cart would be “disadvantaged”?
From the tone of the comments I suspect the answer is “Yes” and it will be ever thus for every technological advance.
Now lets move on!

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Guest

I am not quite clear how farriers equate to a monopoly public service provider but I think the summary might be that TFL have made a case and it has been accepted by Boris.

Whether the case is good is the moot point and given cash handling is the biggest problem highlighted you cannot but wonder why the case for tokens has never been made. Even in 2003 Tfl decided on converted parking ticket machines to provide for the cash buyer rather than the much simpler token system.

One of the historical things that may be relevant was the Truck Acts requirig employers to pay in cash :
” “The clear intention of the Truck Acts was to ensure to workmen the payment of the entire amount of their wages in actual current coin of the realm, unfettered by any promise or obligation that it should be spent in any particular manner, or at any particular shop. The legislature endeavoured to secure that the workman might have in his hand the very actual coin representing his wages, in order that he and his family might freely carry it home, or spend it without impediment in the open market”

Perhaps we are entering a new world where suppliers tell you how they will be paid – which when you have a monopoly is made easy.

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Guest

Max – I’m afraid that you may not have understood the problem. I’m happy to use cards on these buses but for some strange reason I was brought up to think about others.

What do you suggest if someone does not have a card and there is nowhere convenient to buy one. Shall we just ignore them because they are a minority and not worth bothering about?

From my point of view, the key factors are safety and convenience of the public. I acknowledge that it is common to resist technological changes but for me and others that is not the key issue.

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Guest

“Resistance to change” is often used against people when someone is determined to impose their solution. I do not think a lot of people are resistant to change – many embrace modern technology, internet banking, on-line ticketing and so on. What they (we) are resistant to is, I think, two things:
1. Trust in the change – in a world of fraud, system failure, mis-selling we quite rightly question something new until it is shown to be secure (and useful!).
2. We all have a lot of information to deal with – I suspect more than our predecessors. We have to decide what it worth spending time understanding otherwise if we take everything new onboard, irrespective of its real value, our brains would soon get full.
What has this to do with cashless buses? Well. apart from countering Max’s comment, it is about why choice is removed. Those who impose these changes forget about the minority of the people they purport to serve, and thus can make their lives more difficult, whether they are the vulnerable, the ignorant tourist, the occasional visitor, those who lose their card. They need to put in place a great system for the majority, as they have, but remember to give a facility to the minority.

Guest
Max Wild says:
4 August 2014

As I said I will make no further contribution to this thread as it has the potential to ramble on forever.

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Guest

Hi all, I’m just checking in on this debate to make sure you’re all happy with how it’s progressing? Hopefully everyone is being polite to one another even if they disagree?

Guest
Richard P Beauchamp says:
5 August 2014

I understand Max’s impatience and share it, perhaps for the same reasons if they include the limited response to my long held belief that we can advance public transport, road and car park (non) building and climate change, fossil fuel issues by getting people out of their cars.

We will only do that by draconian and unexceptable law passing OR benignly if we

Fund public transport from taxation.
This will be progressively introduced and will progressively reduce car use and car ownership.
The cost of transport and the environmental consequences of it will progressively drop.

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Guest

Richard – I fully support efforts towards cutting down on use of private transport, but making public transport free will just encourage use and not do much for the environment. Look at the what the NHS spends on free prescriptions. A lot of the drugs prescribed are unnecessary or never used. That’s better than people being denied treatment because they cannot afford it, but it illustrates the problem of making anything free.

I would prefer public money spent on promoting cycling and walking. Cyclists need to be separate from motor vehicles and pedestrians from cyclists. Having had various incidents, one including a broken collar bone, I am convinced of the latter point.

We need incentives to get people living nearer where they work, so that they can cycle or walk, which has health benefits in addition to avoiding using private or public transport.

Guest
A Strachan says:
5 August 2014

Very dangerous and stupid decision. Should always have a cash option. Oyster technology is not full proof.

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Guest

Thanks for all your comments on this, everybody. I’m glad to see that it has provoked some in-depth and intelligent debate.

It’s now been a month and a day since the cashless rules were brought in. So I’m wondering if anybody has been (or knows somebody who has been) positively or negatively affected? Have you heard of somebody being stranded thanks to not being able to top up their Oyster? Or have you felt that bus travel has been quicker and smoother since the change?

Guest
Prudence says:
30 October 2014

Just today I was travelling on the bus..anyway, at a particular stop there was a huge queue of people getting on..one of the last to board was a young German speaking boy perhaps about 12-13, anway the driver recalled him as his pass didn’t work, and he was told he would have to get off the bus..the boy was stunned..& politely asked ;if he could say ‘goodbye’ to his family, who were upstairs’..The driver agreed and the Father came down & tried to use his card but apparently it didn’t work as its a credit card..so the whole family Mum,Dad & daughter had to get off despite having already paid their fares. Even worse,,the driver suggested that the lad should just travel on alone to meet them where they were going, to avoid them losing their money. Yikes! Another unhappy episode of ‘Bus Alone’ on your family hols, in a strange country who speak a different language..

Guest
PGS says:
7 August 2014

As mentioned in my earlier posts, I have personally witnessed two incidents where passengers have boarded a bus but only had cash on them.

In the first, a young man with a heavy case was allowed by the driver to travel for free. In the second, a man with a small boy was unceremoniously asked to get off the bus because he only had cash. They were left standing on the pavement. I wonder if they ever got to their destination.

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Guest

My apologies, PGS. I obviously missed your comments before.

It’s interesting that it looks as though the policing of the new rule could be down to the driver’s discretion. I wonder whether a common sense approach will be tolerated by Tfl bosses…

Guest
shockedanddisgusted says:
28 March 2015

The breathtaking arrogance of the guy on here who is apparently from Tfl has really shocked me. It’s even worse than I thought.

“It’s that paying by cash when it’s a rarely-used option is desperately expensive to the system.”. No it’s not. That’s not understanding how to do your accounting. Why do you think all the coal mines closed? because each time they closed another one, the central costs for management “overheads” stayed the same. So each of the coal mines that were left got “charged” a higher proportion of the costs, that in turn made each coal mine look more expensive to keep open, so they closed another coal mine, and so on. At the end pretty much all of them were closed.

Part of any public service’s remit is to serve the public. The public includes vulnerable people. Vulnerable people may not always look or sound vulnerable. It puts too much responsibility on the driver of the bus to know and decide who he can make an exception for. Or, some people are just in a variety of circumstances when they only have cash.

I thought cash was always legal tender and had to be accepted in this country? How on earth did Tfl manage to make itself exempt from having to accept cash for fares? Who allowed that? This decision and the complete lack of sympathy for ordinary people behind the Tfl comments on this board is a shocking revelation of how this country and London are being run now.

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Guest

You must be referring to David Innotts [a Reply comment on 30/07/14 at 9:36 am]. Reading his contributions throughout this Conversation I could never come to the conclusion that he is speaking on behalf of Transport for London! In any case, he has told us he lives in Nottinghamshire – and he probably knows more than most about the economics of coal mines.

I would say the overall balance of the opinions expressed in this Conversation is that there should be a safety net facility for people who just do not have any of the several means of making a cashless fare payment at their disposal when they want to board a bus and the driver won’t let them on. Most correspondents seem to support your third paragraph.

I can certainly sympathise with your final paragraph. I can only assume that TfL had to get the whole Oyster scheme with its limitations through Parliament and ended up with the power to disapply the principle of legal tender. Legal tender is really a reverse concept – it stops customers paying in non-monetary forms [like with a sheep] or an excess of coinage except with the consent of the seller.

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Guest

Thank you for your contribution to this discussion, shockedanddisgusted. As you’ll see from some of the other comments, you’re not alone in being deeply concerned about the removal of cash from public transport.

It’s been more than six months now since the initiative was introduced in London. Have you heard any horror stories about people – vulnerable or otherwise – having difficulties with the cashless system? It will be interesting to know whether it’s working. Are you a Londoner?

The definition of legal tender itself is rather tricky ground. According to the Royal Mint’s guidelines, for example, ’Both parties (i.e. TfL and the passenger) are free to agree to accept any form of payment whether legal tender or otherwise according to their wishes.’

You may be interested to take a look through the report that was put together after TfL’s public consultation early last year, before the cashless system was introduced. It has a little more information about how and why it reached its decision: https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/cashless/user_uploads/web-published-consultation-report-post-14july14.pdf-1

Guest
Bazjay says:
2 April 2015

Having had more experience since commenting last year, I can say that TfL’s decision to go cashless has certainly caused problems in my household (I am a widower living with my stepfamily). I’m smug with my Freedom Pass but my daughter-in-law and two granddaughters, and currently my stepson as well (his car currently being off the road for complex reasons), all use buses. The excuse “the dog got it” is no joke in our family – youngsters being what they are, the granddaughters’ junior travelcards have occasionally been left lying around, later being found chewed and useless; the same once happened to a debit card used by the adults and on another occasion one was lost or stolen. Careless perhaps, but these things happen. Until replacements were found in each case we had short-term worries and travel problems that wouldn’t have arisen had it still been possible to pay for the odd journey in cash as it always used to be. Unless and until our society opts to go completely cashless I feel no company, transport or otherwise, should be at liberty to ban this most basic method of payment.

Guest
Richard P Beauchamp says:
28 March 2015

I’m still living in the expectation that someone else or an organisation with clout will wake up to the ”original” thought that we could have a truly cashless PTS which would drive drivers out of their cars.

Few people can afford private health when they have already paid for health care in their taxes.

Likewise people will progressively switch from car use to public transport when they can do so with no fiddling with cash, cards etc. When more and more others are doing so and it becomes a less isolating activity and when they see their ‘free’ place going spare on passing buses.

Talking of resistance to change… as we were earlier…this revolution in transport is resisted with all the energy and diversionary tactics people can muster.

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Guest

A better alternative to ‘free’ public transport would to move towards society that is less dependent on both private and public transport. The current obesity problem could be helped by encouraging people to walk and cycle. That requires investment because walking and cycling don’t always go well together and having sustained a fracture as a result of a cyclist makes me decided on this point.

Incidentally, private health care is commonly offered by employers, either as a free perk or under special terms, probably because their employees are a better risk than those who choose to sign up.

Guest
Bazjay says:
2 April 2015

I agree that we should encourage more travel on foot and by bike, and less dependency on cars. Also agree that public transport shouldn’t be free, but fares should be low enough not to put people off using it. If you encourage less dependency on public transport as well, it would give rise to a vicious circle where declining demand led to worse services for those still requiring them, and so on. Incidentally, healthwise, using public transport is still preferable to driving, as most people do some walking to and from the bus stop or station – I often deliberately use the bus for only part of my journey instead of the whole of it.

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Guest

I agree. Public transport should be affordable and possibly extended to places that are not served at present. I sometime get off the bus early to take exercise. It’s good to know I’m not alone.

I would like to see more investment in cycling facilities, but we need to segregate cyclists from pedestrians as well as motor vehicles.

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People who use Pay-As-You-Go with an Oyster card on London buses can now benefit from the introduction of a one-hour ‘Hopper’ fare. This allows passengers to make an additional bus journey free of charge within one hour of touching in on the first bus. It also applies to Contactless payment cards. This is particularly aimed at passengers who need to make a change of route in order to complete a through journey. Amazingly, it also enables people to make a return journey so long as they board the next bus within one hour of boarding the first one. This will help those who might have a fifteen minute journey to the supermarket, need to do half an hour’s shopping, and then go home before the hour is up. Or they could go somewhere else. It also enables a break of journey, to do some shopping perhaps, before continuing. It’s a real breakthrough. It doesn’t add anything to the benefits available to people eligible for a Freedom pass, however, but it could be very helpful to commuters and others who use the buses. It might save them time where two buses on direct routes are quicker than one on a circuitous route; it will certainly save a lot of money for people who have had to change and pay again.

Guest
dieseltaylor says:
18 September 2016

Very helpful JW