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TfL survey - Going cashless on buses
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Posts: 513
Joined: May 2012
Post: #1
30-08-2013 11:43 AM

TfL is proposing to entirely remove the option of paying for bus fares by cash in 2014.

There's already a hefty price differential to encourage the use of Oyster cards or contactless card payments, and so now cash is just 1% of journeys, apparently.

They claim they could save 24m a year by going cashless and that they would reinvest that money in the transport network. I'm personally unconvinced by that figure and by the pledge but I'm no expert.

Personally, I worry about the removal of cash as a "payment of last resort". They are suggesting they might allow people to make "one more journey" if there is insufficient credit on their Oyster card, but I can imagine all kinds of situations where that wouldn't be an adequate alternative (eg, wallet lost/stolen, so no payment card or Oyster card).

They are doing a "consultation" - you can take part by clicking here:

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Posts: 627
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #2
30-08-2013 01:26 PM

The London Transport system is already unfriendly to visitors and this would just make it worse. A recyclable paper magnetic day ticket is required (as in Amsterdam) and lots of machines to sell them. Mind you, even there you can still buy one on the bus.

This post was last modified: 30-08-2013 01:30 PM by lacb.

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Posts: 3,243
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #3
30-08-2013 01:38 PM

I've responded already and pointed out that the 24m cost of handling cash is less than the 30m amount left on PAYG Oyster cards each year. For this reason the cost of handling cash should be able to be absorbed in the extra revenues from Oyster.

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Posts: 513
Joined: May 2012
Post: #4
30-08-2013 02:10 PM

Wow. You FHS guys know everything! Killer point, Michael!

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Posts: 3,243
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #5
30-08-2013 09:23 PM

Thanks Mr_Numbers.
I found the full text of my submission to the various questions on the survey, which I completed on behalf of the Forest Hill Society after discussions with our transport committee (we welcome new members to the transport committee if you have an interest in such issues - PM me)

What provision would be made for people whose wallet was stolen?
Sometimes you might have just enough cash to get home, or you could rely on the generosity of a stranger. But with contactless payment cards no such arrangements would be possible.

If you forget your Oyster card you are stuck (unless you buy a new one for 5), that seems like a lot for some of the poorer residents.

Buses are an important least cost public transport device and should always cater for the 1% who might otherwise have serious difficulty getting home.

The figure of 24m annual cost is less than the un-used amount on Oyster Cards recently estimated to be 30m per year. For this reason the 24m annual cost of cash payments seems a reasonable cost overhead and a tiny percentage of the overall revenue generated by TfL from tickets.

They did not repeat in the survey the claim that cashless buses would make journeys quicker. With only 1% paying by cash, the difference would be marginal. Much better to remove 1% of all bus stops!

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Posts: 1,394
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #6
01-09-2013 08:35 PM

The problem is that the 1% who pay by cash struggle to find the money and the bus is held up until they do.

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Posts: 1,111
Joined: Jun 2008
Post: #7
02-09-2013 09:58 AM

I don't get the argument that this is unfriendly to visitors. As a visitor to any other city, I find out how the fares work before I use public transport and I'd much rather use cashless systems than struggle with unfamiliar coins. However, I do see the need for one-day tourist cards rather than forcing people to pay 3 for a plastic Oyster.

Drivers already have the discretion to allow people on without paying - if my daughter ever forgets her Zip card (Oyster for schoolchildren) the driver gives her a ticket which states the fare she owes and how to pay it. I always pay it for her (even though the Zip card gives her free bus travel, because she should have had it with her, so it's fair to pay), and the man at the other end of the phone is always astounded that I do because no one else ever does. They have no way of pursuing anyone for these owed fares.

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Posts: 3,243
Joined: Mar 2005
Post: #8
03-02-2014 12:44 PM

Despite 67% of respondents opposing the changes, TfL have gone ahead with their plans without making any alterations whatsoever.
It makes you wonder whether there is any point bothering with these consultations and wasting the time of 37,000 people - still it is what TfL know how to do best.

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Posts: 513
Joined: May 2012
Post: #9
03-02-2014 02:32 PM

"The problem is that the 1% who pay by cash struggle to find the money and the bus is held up until they do."

I don't take the bus very often (my daughter stopped taking the 122 because it is so unreliable) but I can't recall ever having any kind of a hold-up because of people paying cash. I have had hold-ups because of people asking if this is the right bus to So-and-so and then being told no, and having to have explained to them where to catch the right bus - but hey. It's a bus, not a Ferrari, so you're not going to get anywhere very fast.

Point being (sorry, there was a point to this), I still am a bit concerned about the loss of cash as a "payment of last resort" - eg, late-night loss/theft of Oyster card. But obviously my response to their survey wasn't persuasive enough - assuming they actually read any of the responses.

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Tim Lund

Posts: 255
Joined: Apr 2008
Post: #10
03-02-2014 04:39 PM

I've little doubt that the two main factors for TfL are (1) saving money, and (2) preventing their drivers being a target, which is inevitable if they are known to be having to carry cash with them. I suspect also, that if drivers are no longer an obvious target, buses in general will become even safer, and more welcoming.

Against these considerations, should TfL management defer to the responses from a consultation exercise? Is it possible that TfL management understand their business better than the wider public, many of whom will not actually be bus users?

Michael reasonably asks why, if they weren't going to be bound by it, they bothered in the first place, to which I can suggest (1) it may still have generated useful information for them, over and above more focused customer research they did, and (2) they may have been obliged to conduct such an exercise, being a publicly owned company.

This post was last modified: 03-02-2014 04:43 PM by Tim Lund.

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Posts: 815
Joined: Dec 2006
Post: #11
03-02-2014 06:29 PM

I very much doubt drivers are targeted because they have 20 in change.
They are the front line representatives of companies that often provide a very substandard service.
No one deserves to be assaulted, but dealing face to face with enraged people for a proportion of the day is bound to go horribly wrong in a small number of cases.

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Posts: 581
Joined: Sep 2007
Post: #12
03-02-2014 07:03 PM

Quite right, Tim Lund, it was a consultation, not a referendum.

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