In the world of London transport, there are few topics as emotive as fares and ticketing. From price, through the location of sale, to the method by which payments are made, ticketing is a subject that always provokes considerable debate. Debate that, arguably more than for any other topic, is subject to the dangers of a good anecdote. When TfL announced last month that they would begin consulting on the removal of cash fares from London buses it thus raised more than a few eyebrows. It’s certainly a bold proposal – but where has it come from, and why now?

The birth of an idea

It is hard to understand TfL’s thinking on taking buses cashless without understanding the wider debate on the future of ticketing technology within which it sits.

It is no secret that TfL have long regarded a shift to Contactless Payment Cards (CPCs) as their preferred means of ticketing within London as a whole. The Oyster card system surprised almost everyone – TfL included – with the scale of its success, but as we highlighted back in 2011, that success has seen the system pushed to its limit. In part this is because its ubiquity and acceptance (you will struggle to find a Londoner who hasn’t, at least once, tried to Oyster into their own house) has resulted in expansion well beyond its original scope – first onto buses and then onto national rail. It is also, however, because with Oyster TfL carry the burden of being a technological early adopter. Smartcards were still in their relative infancy when Oyster was created and there was no real working standard within the UK rail industry on which to draw at the time. To put it bluntly, with Oyster TfL effectively had to wing it.

As we wrote back in 2011, this has left TfL in something of a quandary. They have the most successful transport smart card system in the world, but it is a system that is increasingly hard to maintain:

[I]ts greatest strength – its simplicity – is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain. As anyone involved in a technical field will explain (often with a slightly pained expression), there is normally an inverse relationship between how simple a technical solution appears on the surface and how complex it is behind the scenes.

To a user, an Oyster journey across bus and Tube is now just a series of beeps, but behind the scenes it is a computational nightmare of timed journeys, interchanges and possible routes. This is further complicated by the presence of Out of Station Interchanges (valid changes that can be made between technically unconnected stations) and Autocorrects (auto-crediting back for incomplete journeys made to destinations where the gates were open such as stations for the Notting Hill Carnival).

Almost since Oyster itself was introduced, this is a problem of which TfL have been aware and which they have been working to solve. This quest for a solution ultimately resolved itself into the Future Ticketing project, which is now well underway.

Oysters are not the only sea-fruit

Within the context of Future Ticketing – and within the context here of the cashless debate on buses – it is important not to confuse the method for the objective. The original objective of the Oyster project was not to introduce a smartcard, it was to introduce a system that:

  1. Would be simple to use
  2. Would always find its users the cheapest fare.

In effect, the goal was to take the travelcard system that London’s transport authorities (and the original Greater London Council) had pioneered to its next logical step. It was about simpler transport, not technology. A smartcard was simply the best means of delivering those goals at the time, with the downsides of having to develop a proprietary smartcard solution (due to the immaturity of the market) outweighed by the potential benefits.

It is an easy mistake to think that TfL’s goals with Future Ticketing are to find a like-for-like replacement for Oyster. In fact, they remain the same as they were when Oyster was first commissioned – it is still simpler transport, not technology, that ultimately matters.

In this context, it is easy to see why TfL have become so enamoured with CPCs. As early as 2007 TfL had begun to explore the potential for skipping the smartcard entirely and moving transactions to the existing plastic within a passenger’s pocket. This resulted in a partnership with Barclaycard that saw Oyster chips embedded in credit cards.


The Barclaycard One Pulse

From TfL’s perspective moving the transaction off of a separate chip to piggyback onto the card’s embedded functionality was – and is – the next logical step. Indeed had the technology to do so been available at the time Oyster was created this is almost certainly the path down which London’s electronic ticketing would already have progressed. Pushing the transaction back onto a user’s existing card meets all the objectives but has the added benefits of removing what has become an enormous cost overhead – the maintenance of an entire proprietary payment processing and card management solution. Why maintain your own separate system when the banking system will carry the cost of maintaining one for you?

Taking CPC to the buses

A long term shift to CPCs became an established principle within the Future Ticketing project in 2010, and buses were always going to form a key part of of the rollout and testing process. Although CPC is arguably a maturer technology now than smartcards were when Oyster was adopted (at least within the context of small-scale transactions), TfL is still pushing the technology well beyond anything that the marketplace has already seen.

In this environment, pioneering such a system on the Tube was never going to be an option. With its furiously complex fares system, diverse arrangement of interchanges and fuzzy boundaries with national rail, the Underground is not a network on which any sensible systems engineer would look to trial a new technology.

The bus network, by contrast, is an almost perfect testbed. It is a closed environment over which, albeit through contracts with individual bus companies, TfL has complete control. With a single fare option for travelcard-less travellers (one ticket = one journey).

In 2011 it was thus confirmed that limited trials of the technology would be undertaken on buses in 2012. Indeed it was boldly proclaimed that CPCs would be usable across the whole network by the time of the Olympics. In fact this would turn out to be an overly optimistic target, and early trials highlighted a number of problems. Some of these were technical – such as the need for card readers to avoid double-billing travellers when both an Oyster and CPC were present. More crucially some related to questions of payment processing and risk that, thanks to the immature nature of CPC as a technology, the industry had yet to fully address, but which TfL’s large-scale implementation of the technology soon pushed firmly to the fore.

CPC transactions, for example, are by their nature PIN-less. They are currently capped at £20 to limit the potential for fraud. This in itself was not an issue for TfL, but as an additional security feature certain CPC transactions, or sequences of transactions, will result in a user occasionally being prompted to enter a PIN. For the banking industry this had seemed a perfectly reasonable feature – as CPC transactions were anticipated to make use of terminals (handheld or otherwise) where a keypad was already in place. For TfL, however, this was a severe problem – and it became clear that either an exemption from this security feature would have to be introduced, with an agreement over who would carry the resulting change in risk, or readers across the entire bus fleet would have to be upgraded significantly ahead of schedule.

The buses go contactless

At the end of 2012 CPC transactions finally made their debut, swiftly passing from initial trial to full acceptance across the entire bus network. Whilst some reports of double-charging still occasionally surface (which TfL strenuously deny), this rollout has clearly largely been a success. A success that in March, the TfL Annual Report was keen to boast about:

Since December, passengers have been able to use contactless payment cards (CPCs)for bus journeys. Fares are charged at the Oyster tariff rather than the full cash amount. Currently, there is no daily price cap but by the end of 2013, the scheme will be available on the Tube, DLR, London Overground and trams with daily and weekly price capping.

Meeting the needs of the modern traveller

There are still large numbers of people who try to board TfL transport without change or enough credit on their Oyster card, so paying with a credit, debit or similar payment card will make life simpler.

As with an Oyster card, no tickets are issued, and two or more people travelling together must use a separate card for payment. If an inspector asks to see a ticket, then he or she must be shown the contactless card that was used for payment.

Passengers can still check their journey details online and see where they have been and how much it cost them. TfL will never have access to their credit or bank account details.

TfL is the first major urban transport provider in the world to accept this method of payment.

In a sidebar, that annual report also highlighted a couple of key figures related to the rollout:

  • Every day, around 85,000 bus journeys are paid for using cash – and costing the passenger £1 per journey more than if they used an Oyster or paid by CPC
  • About 500 people each day try to pay their fare with a high denomination note for which the bus driver does not have change
  • A total of 36,000 people per day board a bus and find they have insufficient credit on their Oyster card
  • Around 25 million bus journeys will be made by the end of 2013 using a CPC

With hindsight the presence of these figures within the report provided a clue as to what was coming next. That we missed it can largely be attributed to the fact that it was not a stated part of the Future Ticketing project (at least not at this stage), just an unexpected opportunity – On the buses, TfL believed that the numbers now supported dropping the cash fare completely.

Dropping the cash fare

As we mentioned at the head of this article, TfL’s announcement that they would consult on dropping cash fares completely in 2014 raised a considerable number of eyebrows. To some, the ability simply to board a London bus and pay by cash is an unquestionable element of the ticketing system. Without a cash fare, how will tourists (both domestic and foreign) use the network? What about Londoners who still talk about using the cash fare? What about Night Bus travellers or older travellers less comfortable with technology?

On the surface at least all of these questions seem to have considerable validity. Transport planning, however, is about data not anecdote. So just how do people pay for bus transport in London?

Surprisingly, this is actually a harder question to answer than we initially suspected.

Getting down to numbers

That a significant number of bus travellers – perhaps even the majority – receive free transport is an accepted political truth, certainly within the Capital. The press releases and documentation released by TfL alongside the current cashless consultation were also keen to stress the low level of cash usage on the bus network:

Who pays cash?
Currently there are around 60,000 cash journeys made on TfL bus services each day, or around 1% of all journeys.

A full breakdown of bus travellers and how they paid, however, is something that does not appear to have graced the public domain until now – something we’d initially expected would already feature somewhere either in existing TfL or GLA documents or the London Data Store. In fact this does not appear to be the case. We thus asked TfL to provide us with the relevant data, which is broken down visually below:


Breakdown of bus journeys by payment type, 2012/13. Data: TfL

The results are interesting. In 2012/2013 approximately 33% of all bus journeys were made by those with free travel gained through senior citizen or child cards. 22% were paid for by a PAYG payment of some kind (in truth the vast majority of these will be Oyster PAYG, as CPC rollout only began late in the financial year). The majority of journeys were made by users holding a season card of some kind (43%). Cash is only used, as suggested by TfL elsewhere, for only 1% of journeys (as, interestingly, are day travelcards).

As a side note, eagle-eyed readers may well already have spotted that we now have two numbers which claim to represent the number of cash journeys each day – 85,000 in the Annual Report, 60,000 in the consultation documentation. In the context of the 6.5m bus journeys made each day across the bus network that discrepancy isn’t huge and TfL, when queried, explained that the 60,000 figure is based on current usage, which takes into account the increase in CPC based travel since that previous figure was compiled. This, they indicate, now stands at 23,000 journeys a day. The discrepancy does highlight, however, that it is important to remember that even statistics are not entirely immune to spin. It certainly means that the percentages above should be treated as rounded down.

Despite this, the breakdown does seem to emphatically demonstrate TfL’s point – when it comes to pure numbers, the case for continuing to accept cash payments is indeed rather weak.

Are you part of the one percent?

Numbers aside, however, what journeys make up that one percent? Anecdotal evidence would seem to suggest that older travellers would be most affected. In fact when questioned, TfL, indicated that the majority of cash journeys are undertaken by people within the 16 – 34 age group.

When taken in conjunction with the figure of 36,000 users who pay cash because they have insufficient Oyster credit (as mentioned in the Annual Report), this actually makes a considerable amount of sense. It also explains TfL’s push to add functionality to Oyster that would allow the card holder to make one extra journey, even if that drives the card temporarily into debit. This is something that Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, has stressed in various news sources is considered key to any cashless transition. Card holders at the younger end of that age group are arguably the least likely to have access to a bank card with CPC functionality, due to restrictions on bank account type and credit. That extra Oyster journey is key to making the switch more painless for them.

Getting geographic

Another key consideration is, of course, geography. Just what impact does the location of a bus route currently have on the percentage of cash journeys made?

It would be tempting to think that two particular areas, geographically speaking, would see a significant variance in cash fare usage should such variance exist.

The first of these is routes which cross the GLA boundary. Such journeys naturally take bus users away from locations where Oyster cards can easily be topped up, and would also seem likely to attract users who do not already own an Oyster card or equivalent paper ticket. TfL, however, have indicated that although cash usage here increases slightly, it remains low at around the 2% mark. It would be interesting to see which of London’s bus routes has the highest cash usage, but ultimately it is again difficult to argue against the numbers.

The second area where one would perhaps expect to see significant variance, should it exist, is within Central London itself. Routes that run through tourist hotspots such as Oxford Street are likely to attract a significant percentage of any tourist traffic to be found on the bus network. Surprisingly, however, here TfL indicate that there is less variance than one might expect. Although cash fares through the centre run marginally higher than the average, it is still around the 1% mark. This they account to the fact that approximately 76% of overseas tourists now pick up an Oyster Card upon, or shortly after, arrival. It is also, however, likely a fact that for the majority of tourists a bus journey is very rarely the first journey within the capital that they are likely to take, and thus an Oyster card or travelcard (day or otherwise) has likely already been acquired.

Mitigating the transition

Whilst the data seems to backs up TfL’s argument that a switch away from cash is a viable prospect, this does not mean that there would not need to be changes to mitigate the effects.

Most importantly, going cashless will mean an increased risk of people in vulnerable situations being unable to travel. This is particularly pertinent to travel at night, and when asked TfL confirmed that cash usage increases to 2% of all fares on Night Buses.

As with the figure for cash fares across the GLA boundary, this is perhaps less of a variation than many would have suspected. The fact remains, however, that for a individual stranded alone at night statics are less important than safety, and thus the success of a switch to cashless travel will arguably stand or fall on how well TfL addresses this issue. TfL point to the fact that they already have policies in place which allow for vulnerable travellers to board buses for free, and indicate that all drivers will receive refresher training should the switch to cashless be made. Despite this, such a change will clearly put greater pressure on both drivers and the policies related to vulnerable travel than they have been under before.

Indeed whilst broadly speaking the proposal has received a degree of support from within the London Assembly some of that comes with clear caveats, as Caroline Pidgeon explains:

Any removal of cash bus fares is only acceptable if combined with some minimum guarantees. These guarantees include firstly the protection of vulnerable people, especially at night; secondly Oyster cards allowing an extra journey when there is insufficient credit on an Oyster card to allow people to get home, and thirdly the availability of shops where Oyster cards can be topped up being at least maintained, if not extended.

Ms Pidgeon’s comments highlight one other area in which TfL may neeed to improve if they are too fully satisfy the needs of the passenger – increasing the availability of Oyster points beyond the current network of shops and stations. At the moment, TfL believe this is adequate:

We have a network of around 4,000 Oyster Ticket Stops where customers can buy tickets and top up their Oyster card balance. The location of the outlets are strategically spread across London and close to bus stops and there are no current plans to increase the number. To make it even easier, customers are also able to top up their Oyster card online, either manually or using Auto Top Up, and take further advantage of the benefits of having an online account.

Should the switch to cashless highlight or exacerbate particular gaps in their strategic spread, however, then this may be something they find themselves under pressure to address.

A question of timing

Ultimately, even if the case for making the switch to cashless is compelling, there still remains one question left to be answered – why do it now?

TfL have been keen to suggest that there are financial benefits to making the switch:

Should the decision be made to go cashless, savings of up to £24m per annum by 2019/20 will be expected due to reductions in the cost of operation and increased operational flexibility. These savings will be reinvested into the network for the benefit of everyone.

£24m per annum is not an insignficant figure, but it is worth noting carefully the wording above – that figure will not be fully realised until 2019/20.

This is due to the way in which those savings are likely to be made. True, a certain amount of savings will be made almost straight away, as the cost of handling money and processing payments on London’s buses already costs more than that it actually earns. Much of that initial saving, however, will likely be offset by a small drop in fare revenue (CPC fares are cheaper, as they are pegged to Oyster) and a need – albeit likely temporary – to suitably advertise the change and allow more people to travel without paying in the short term as the change irons out.

The real benefit, however, will come from future contracts with operators, and with many of these due for review and renewal in the next five years this goes a long way to explaining why its is important to set this change in motion now. The removal of cash-handling from operator requirements simplifies those upcoming contracts greatly. It also opens up the opportunity to move to simpler ticket machines and readers on buses in future.

Snipping the long tail

In truth, though, there is also likely another reason for finally making the complete switch to cashless bus fares in 2014.

In the introduction of any new technology or process, there comes a point when all the users who are likely to shift voluntarily have done so already. A point where whatever benefits or incentives are in place to do so – be they special offers, ease of use or price-point – have already had as much of an effect as they are ever likely to have. At that point, all you can do is make the final change and take the pain.

With cash payments on buses now hovering around one percent, and 38% of Londoners now having a CPC in their pocket (a figure up 8% alone since April this year), TfL have clearly decided that the beginning of 2014 will mark the point at which the above is true for bus fares – although they are likely too polite to ever say it.

On a logical and practical level, if it is accepted that there is no underlying obligation to take cash payments indefinitely on public transport, then it’s quite tricky really to argue that they’re wrong.

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There are 449 comments on this article
  1. John Bull says:

    I should probably point out (before someone else does) that I do know Oyster predates “Transport for London” under their current name. I just didn’t want to muddy the piece too much.

    If general consensus is that its a bit of “author’s license” too far, however, I’ll change it.

  2. slabman says:

    If TFL only allows contactless card payments and ditches Oyster, how will Travelcards work?

  3. John Bull says:

    I’ve got a future article planned on Future Ticketing itself – it was just impossible here not to at least touch on the subject because completely cashless bus travel is effectively a side-product of that project.

    Short version, however, is that it’ll all relate back to capping within the system, based on the individual identification that a CPC carries. Also, there will always be a smartcard option, for those who prefer to ring fence their travel funds or who don’t have a bank account or CPC.

    (Frankly I’m probably within the group that will wish to retain a separate transport card)

  4. Moosealot says:

    “…percentage of cash journey’s made?”
    A Grocers’ apostrophe appears to have slipped through.

  5. John Bull says:

    Well spotted!

  6. Castlebar says:

    I say “Bring back Red Rovers”

    I know they couldn’t be used on the “Green Line”, and you had to go to a station to get one…………………
    Oh hang on!, they want station ticket offices to become unma…….. er, sorry, “unpersonned”

  7. Gio says:

    Regarding the night bus issue, there definitely needs to be more clarification around who is a “vulnerable person”. Surely, if it’s in the middle of the night and you have no means to pay for a bus journey with a card or Oyster, the driver shouldn’t really leave you stranded, no matter what age or sex you are. In reality, I don’t have much faith that that would happen.

    As for the availability of shops where Oyster cards can be topped up etc, I don’t think TfL can claim that this would be adequate during the operation of night buses – i.e. in the middle of the night when hardly any shops would be open. If you need to top up and absolutely everything is shut, what then?

    What I would really like to see happen is that a person can use their CPC to pay for more than one passenger if need be. It is a bit ridiculous that a CPC is limited to one payment per journey. All it needs if a function button which the bus driver presses to permit a second or third payment.

    Finally, I do look forward to the day where one bus fare allows passengers to change buses/routes within a prescribed period of time for the price of one fare. It’s not the public’s fault that London’s buses routes are operated by different exclusive companies, but Tube interchanges are inclusive. Wouldn’t it be nice if a bus stop with 5 bus routes stopping was considered an interchange!

  8. Michael Jennings says:

    >In this environment, pioneering such a system on the Tube was never going to be an option

    There is also the issue that providing this service on buses provides an immediate benefit that providing it on the tube would not have done. If I get on a bus, put my Oyster Card on the reader, and get a red light telling me that there is insufficient credit, until now I have just had to pay the (higher) cash fare, assuming I am even carrying enough cash. In the case of this this happening at a Tube or National rail station, I can simply go and top up my Oyster Card using the ticket machine or a ticket office, meaning that the immediate need for this is less. Now I can instead just use a credit or debit card, which is great. This also works if I simply forget my Oyster Card. (At a station I can buy a paper Travelcard, if nothing else). So my thought is to say “Well Done” to TfL already on this. That said, a “One Extra Journey” rule

    As for the complete elimination of cash fares, I think this is premature. I frequently travel to foreign cities, and I like to go exploring on foot. After a lengthy walk, I often wait for a bus to take me back. Situations where I get on, wave cash at the driver, and he shakes his head due to there being no cash fares happen a lot, often because one is supposed to have bought a ticket somewhere in advance. (Often, the driver will then gesture for me to get on without paying, but I don’t like doing this). Tourists seldom like this.

    It would be fine if I could pay directly with a credit or debit card, though. I noticed when I was in Australia recently that banks there have introduced contactless payments for small transactions on debit or credit cards just like here. Unfortunately, Britain and Australia are not compatible (or at least not linked) at present. I cannot use my Australian card in British shops (or London buses) and I cannot use my British card in Australian shops. When these systems are all linked and many foreigners can use their foreign cards to pay for bus fares in London, the case for eliminating cash fares completely will be stronger.

  9. David Mitchell says:

    @Gio – I don’t think the issue with transfers is the tendering process. TfL could almost certainly write that into operator contracts. The issue is revenue loss as you’re only going to be paying one fare rather than two. This is a pet project of the Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly, but they have always proposed it without detailing how much it might cost. It would (no doubt) be in the 10s of £M.

    Surely 2014 is also being proposed as the start date because by that time not only will CPCs be in use across multiple modes but weekly and monthly price capping will have been introduced?

  10. Michael Jennings says:

    >Much of that initial saving, however, will likely be offset by a small drop in fare
    >revenue (CPC fares are cheaper, as they are pegged to Oyster)

    Maybe, maybe not. Assume you have only Oyster or cash options. You get on a bus, put your card on the reader, and discover you are out of credit. You do one of two things: you pay cash (in which case TfL’s fare revenues are greater than if you had credit on your Oyster Card) or you get off the bus and don’t travel (in which case they are smaller). It is also possible a few people stay on the bus without paying, due to either being “vulnerable” or because the driver has pity on them. If everyone to who this happens uses CPC instead, the fare paid per passenger goes down, but the number of passengers who pay a fare goes up. Total revenues may or may not go down.

  11. David Mitchell says:

    @Michael Jennings – Not sure where you tried to use your UK CPC in Oz, but it certainly should work and I have done it on multiple occasions. Maybe you were just unlucky. Interestingly they have a higher limit for CPC transactions (think it’s $50) so it is more useful as a payment method than in the UK. The EMV specification is global so non-UK cards should work here.

  12. Michael Jennings says:

    Okay, I take that back. The UK card I always use abroad is a Post Office Credit Card, which gives me a better exchange rate than my other cards. I’ve just looked at my present card, and (unlike most of my UK cards) it is not a CPC card. I’ll try one of the other cards next time. CPC is indeed more widely used in Australia than here at present. When I handed my Australian card (which is CPC enabled) over, cashiers seemed much more eager to use the contactless mode than they are here at present.

  13. Charlie says:

    Even though I’ve lived in New York for 6 years, having moved from London, I still sometimes reach for my Oyster when leaving the subway before I realize I don’t need to swipe out here. It’s amazing how habitual the swiping action becomes.

  14. Ben says:

    In regard to the cash journeys made, does this refer to cash transactions on a bus (only) or include the cash transactions made through pre-boarding machines? Is may be matter of semantics, as most machines were removed, however some still exist and are collected by another company. I just thought that if these are not included in the cash figures then they may represent a miscalculation of the 1% figure quoted.
    (Genuinely not trying to pedantic!)

  15. Anon5 says:

    The idea of simply showing your CPC to an inspector will surely be good news to fare evaders on Tramlink where you are meant to touch in at platform readers at the start of your journey and step aboard. There isn’t a driver to check you’ve paid or a gate line. At least with Oyster the inspector has a reader that can check your journey. Or will these still work with the CPC?

  16. marek says:

    It is really interesting to see the breakdown of payment types and makes the case for eliminating the smallest category carrying the largest costs very powerfully.
    It will make no difference to me because I am part of the rather larger 21% of passengers with a bus pass season, where every month I am reminded how badly adapted oyster cards are to buses.
    If you renew a bus pass at a tube station ticket machine, the final screen suggests that next time you renew online. But you can’t – because the oyster architecture allows for season tickets to be loaded at designated stations, but not on designated bus routes (a designated bus is clearly rather impractical). That’s clearly a more complicated thing to achieve, but it shouldn’t be impossible.
    In the meantime I – and clearly rather a lot of other people – are in the strange position that if I were a tube commuter I would never need to use a tube station ticket machine, but because I am a bus commuter, I use one regularly,

  17. Littlejohn says:

    Does a payment by CPC generate a receipt/ticket?

  18. The other Paul says:

    @David Mitchell
    @Michael Jennings
    When I turned up in Australia about 8 years ago and attempted to enter a PIN number for a card transaction I was told briskly by the shop assistant the “your PIN won’t work here”, to which I replied that I’d used the same card with my PIN number in countries from Latvia to Thailand and I didn’t see why Australia would be any different! Of course it did work, but there seemed to be a general perception amongst some Australians that they had their PIN technology first and it was therefore a bit special, perhaps like them.

    Maybe the contactless card suffers from the same cultural fog?

  19. Walthamstow Writer says:

    There is a spelling error in the section about night buses and safety. I think the word “statics” should really be “statistics”.

  20. Overground Commuter says:

    My bank has no plans to convert my current account to CPC and am perfectly happy with using the services offered. Although I have never had an issue losing an Oyster in the middle of the night, it’d be harder to acquire one at 3am from the 4,000 Oyster Ticket Shops of which the vast majority will be closed, which with the cash option removed will be hard to prove if I’m ‘vulnerable’ or not to a driver who is not trained in sensing if a person needs genuine help or not.

    If I also lose or have my wallet stolen, I can’t exactly just get money out for a cab home.

  21. The other Paul says:

    The problem I see with CPC right now is that the adoption has some way to go to being universal. Several institutions are yet to even start issuing cards, let alone get through their cardholder base who will typically have been issued cards valid for 4 or 5 years. Best case, I reckon we’re still at leat 2-3 years away from the majority of people actually having a CPC capable card in their wallet.

    So to suggest CPC as a serious mitigation for removing cash fares as soon as next year seems a little premature to me.

  22. ChrisMitch says:

    What a terrible idea.
    So instead of the bus being delayed because the driver has to find change for a £10-note, we will have the bus being delayed by a sob-story from a ‘vulnerable person’ with no electronic cash. Sorry if that sounds a bit harsh.
    Keep the cash fare option, please.

  23. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Hmmm – I will need to dig out my copies of the original Prestige project paperwork. I rather suspect the objectives were far more wide ranging than you suggest. I also think the sole objective for the Future Ticketing Project and Cashless Buses and possible removal of (all) LU ticket offices is to strip out cost. This is partly because technology and customer demands are changing but largely (IMO) because of Mayoral and government funding cuts. It’s all dressed up as something else but we are now at the point where whatever “fat” there was has gone and we’re now down to the bone and more fundamental changes are needed.

    While I understand the percentages are small (and how clever of TfL to frame it like that) we are still talking about 60,000 people every single day. I can’t see any attempt to understand *why* these people still pay cash in the consultation documents. Do TfL know? If they did then their “solutions” might be better framed. Past market research by TfL about using CBCs for travel showed a high level of distrust and misunderstanding of the concept from those interviewed. People clearly trust Oyster (foibles and all) and TfL have a very significant challenge to effect the big switch away from Oyster to CBCs that will deliver the anticipated financial savings. IIRC the London Assembly Transport Committee were, at best, scepitcal about TfL’s ability to deliver the anticipated savings. I’m sure they published a report on this.

    I have witnessed far too much inconsistent treatment of passengers by bus drivers when it comes to problematic Oyster cards or tendering high value notes to believe that TfL can override the human nature, experience and cynicism of 20,000+ bus drivers. They have to be part time psychologists to assess “vulnerability” but they are likely to dismiss young males as being “vulnerable” when they are, in fact, a high risk group. Just because they might be a bit “lippy” or a bit pissed on a night out does not mean they are not vulnerable. However how many bus drivers, when faced by “Mr Lippy” in Romford at 0100 on a Saturday morning are going to conciliatory is his Oyster Card doesn’t work. Until TfL can provide some genuine clarity about that sort of scenario then excuse my cyncism about relying on existing procedures. Easy to write in a press release but someone needs to go and take some bus rides and watch what really happens.

    How have TfL “scenario tested” the move to cashless buses against future changes to fares? What happens if Freedom Passes or child concessions have to be scaled back or reduced due to future funding pressures? You could end up with a different set of vulnerabilities then. I’m not saying this is show stopper but we are talking about a dynamic environment where change is almost guaranteed. We need to be clear that such a fundamental policy change is robust but also flexible enough to deal with reasonably predictable change without requiring more money to be spent in the future.

    I would suggest route 465 probably has the highest level of cash transactions. I’ve only used it a couple of times but a lot of people paid cash between Dorking and Hook. I assume this is because Dorking, Box Hill and Leatherhead are not overflowing with Ticket Stops or Oyster compatible ticket machines. Where is the answer for these people? I expect TfL do not want to increase Ticket Stops as commission payments would rise. The long term plan must be to shift people to bank cards and have as few as possible on Oyster so Ticket Stops can be removed from the network and commission payments reduced considerably. You could always have a “Second Tuesday” meeting at a pub in Surrey on the 465 for a “real life” investigation into the level of cash payment? 🙂

    I am not convinced by the “dip into the deposit” mechanism. This needs more thought. Although the night bus network is fairly comprehensive, in recent years TfL has deliberately broken some links from Central London to create suburban night routes like the 297, 281 and 321. Also not all night buses run past Trafalgar Square so therefore it is entirely legitimate for people to need to change buses to get home. As a minimum TfL should allow “2 dips into the deposit” for journeys overnight when access to ticket outlets is extremely difficult. There is a fraud risk here but system settings can deal with it. Of course with a CBC and “back room” capping calculations this issue disappears doesn’t it?!

    I also support the idea of “multiple tickets” on CBCs but clearly this slows down boarding times as it is a more involved transaction and would make capping calculations more complex. However I think TfL will need to concede this point for bus travel – clearly you can’t do it for Tramlink, DLR, Tube or Rail just from touching a validator or gate target. You could, I suppose, allow a transaction via Tramlink ticket machines but it rather defeats the object and would be an interesting proposition at Wimbledon!!

    I also do not believe that the £24m will go on additional investment – it is simply a cost saving that will just get swallowed up. Perhaps the money should be ring fenced and TfL should publish an annual plan and reconciliation statement that demonstrates what the money will be / has been spent on? Extra Countdown signs and more bus services seem to be a popular demand from Assembly Members in this week’s Mayor’s Questions.

    I could drone on about TfL Future Ticketing, ITSO on Oyster, DfT National Rail Fares and Ticketing Review and the South East Flexible Ticketing project but won’t given Mr B has an article planned. Let’s just say I am not convinced there is a coherent vision about what the poor long suffering fare paying passenger will be using to pay for their travel or whether there will still be features like break of journey, TfL / NR through ticketing and other useful long standing facilities.

    For those demanding 1 hour / transfer tickets on buses then TfL recently reiterated that there is no demand for this facility given daily capping on Oyster. Past estimates were that it would cost £60-70m to introduce this sort of ticket. Nonetheless Caroline Pidgeon has maintained her annual tradition of asking the Mayor about progress on the 1 hour bus ticket, early bird seasons and part time Travelcards in the September 2013 Mayor’s Questions. Given TfL will shortly have to bring forward a revised business plan and the 2014 Fares Revision proposals for the Mayor that deal with a loss of £225m in TfL revenue grant I can’t see the Mayor splashing £70m on 1 hour bus tickets!

  24. Anonymous says:

    Back in the 2007 Barclaycard trial, a friend tested a mobile phone that also functioned as an Oyster card and (I think) a credit card. Which was great. Until she lost the phone/Oyster/credit card, at which point she was stuffed. And that, I suspect, is an accurate vision of the good and bad parts of The Future!

  25. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    I would suggest route 465 probably has the highest level of cash transactions.

    When I rode on the 465 a number of years ago I too was amazed at the number of cash fares paid. I put it down the fact that these journeys were made entirely outside the GLA boundary and maybe the people just had not grasped that they could save money by using an Oystercard even though they weren’t travelling within London.

  26. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – well a quick check of the Oyster Ticket Stop finder shows no Ticket Stops south of Leatherhead on the 465. There is 1 Ticket Stop in Leatherhead town centre itself and then nothing until you get to Chessington itself. There is not even a facility at Chessington World of Adventures despite that being served 24 hours a day by the 71 / Night 65 as well as the 465. Epsom and Ewell look to be rather better served with outlets but still only Ticket Stop in Epsom Town Centre. Now the 465 is not a deal breaker but it is a surprisingly busy service given its low frequency but perhaps the people of Leatherhead and Dorking appreciate having a daily service from early til late? I can’t see them being impressed at being unable to travel because of a dictat from “the Smoke”.

    It is worth remembering that the 465 is a microcosm of what could happen if London concessions are scaled back. Kids in Surrey over 16 can’t get a Zip Card so they need to pay cash and those under 16 are reliant on their parents applying for them. At present English Concession Pass holders from outside London have full use of TfL buses without time restriction but if that facility is ever scaled back then pensioners would need to have an Oyster Card to travel prior to 0930 or after 2300 Monday to Friday.

  27. Anonymous says:

    At the top of the article you mention that :-

    From TfL’s perspective moving the transaction off of a separate chip to piggyback onto the card’s embedded functionality was – and is – the next logical step. Indeed had the technology to do so been available at the time Oyster was created this is almost certainly the path down which London’s electronic ticketing would already have progressed. Pushing the transaction back onto a user’s existing card meets all the objectives but has the added benefits of removing what has become an enormous cost overhead – the maintenance of an entire proprietary payment processing and card management solution. Why maintain your own separate system when the banking system will carry the cost of maintaining one for you?

    and then spend the rest of the piece on cashless buses – but this may be the thin edge of the wedge, as more people switch over to ‘OysterBank’ then the cost of maintaining PAYG Oyster will go up in proportion to the decrease to the number of passengers using it – the ‘Government’ are continually trying to create a cashless society – there are regular media reports about the latest thing that will replace cash – by definition TfL staff are the type who have bank cards as probably most of those who look at this blog – but there is a group just getting by with prepayment cards for gas & electric, if PAYG Oyster goes what happens to them – do they get a prepaid ‘Mastercard’ Oyster, do they then have to pay an additional fee to top up – what about a ‘Wonga’ Oyster for emergencies, it has no credit on it, just charges for the debt you start to run up as soon as you start using it?
    On the subject of vulnerable groups – remember on the TV program ‘Routemasters’ were the night bus driver said that it is normal for passengers to say they have just been robbed and couldn’t pay the fair? Will the driver have to let them on now?

  28. Steve says:

    “My bank has no plans to convert my current account to CPC and am perfectly happy with using the services offered. ”

    I’m surprised. My debit card has been CPC for three years and credit card for two years. Both from different banks.

    “Does a payment by CPC generate a receipt/ticket?”

    No, but then it more often than not doesn’t in a shop, in my experience.

  29. timbeau says:

    @Walthamstow Writer
    “TfL recently reiterated that there is no demand for this facility given daily capping on Oyster. Past estimates were that it would cost £60-70m to introduce this sort of ticket.”
    Spot the inconsistency there? If no-one wants to use it, it won’t cost anything in lower revenue!

    “Currently there are around 60,000 cash journeys made on TfL bus services each day, or around 1% of all journeys.”
    Is this a lot or a little? If it’s a lot, that’s a lot of people inconvenienced by its removal. If a little, it’s not a major operational problem.

    In perspective, you would expect, taking a reasonably well-loaded bus at random, that you will be more likely than not to find someone on it who paid a cash fare.

    I see problems with this – already mentioned is the “two buses to get home” problem. And what about people whose Oysters have been lost, stolen, or stopped working. (And maybe their bank card was stolen with it?)

    Children are unlikely to have a bank card – what do they do? Those who have lost their card, or are not entitled (e.g non-Londoners) or have had their card confiscated on some pretext by Authority (who see the Zip card as a privilege, rather than a service paid for by their council-tax paying parents).

    Some people with bank cards have specifically asked not to have wave and pay.

    Or as happened to one of our party recently on arrival at Heathrow late last Monday night, finding on touching in on the bus that it had insufficient funds: should the bus driver wait for him to go and top up? Should he wait for the next bus an hour later whilst the rest of us, who had already touched in, go without him?

    How do you top up an Oyster at midnight?

    Roadside ticket machines? TfL is currently ripping them out.

    If London’s buses are to remain truly public transport, rather than only accessible to those who have subscribed to Oyster, coin of the realm has to be accepted.

  30. Colin Newman says:

    What if the vulnerable person alone at night hasn’t got any cash either? A very unlikely scenario, you may say. Cash is the last resort – acceptable everywhere. So what’s needed seems to be a CPC card that can be linked to a separate account that goes with that card – an analogue of the pocket that is topped up with notes and coins. What it also needs to do though, if it is to replace cash, is a peer to peer transfer, analogous to lending / giving your mate his bus fare in coins.

    So the thing would need to have some way of the user telling it how much money to transfer peer to peer. A keypad, I suppose. We might want to add some kind of security to the device so there would be no point in stealing it, though cash hasn’t got that. Maybe something as simple as a PIN?

  31. Anonymous says:

    17:30, 9 September 2013 link

    The idea of simply showing your CPC to an inspector will surely be good news to fare evaders on Tramlink where you are meant to touch in at platform readers at the start of your journey and step aboard. There isn’t a driver to check you’ve paid or a gate line. At least with Oyster the inspector has a reader that can check your journey. Or will these still work with the CPC?”

    I’m assuming it would have to work, I don’t think they would leave it out. But I’ve always wondered whether it’d be better the Oyster readers were on the trams rather than at the stops, hmm…

    As for getting rid of cash fares, it’s just a stupid idea in my opinion. Even though it would be wonderful if people just all paid before getting on the bus…

  32. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – fair comment about the 1 hour bus ticket. I was somewhat surprised when Leon Daniels made the “no one wants it” remark to the Transport Committee back in July. I expect Caroline Pidgeon has carefully filed that remark away from retrieval at a suitable point with a demand for TfL to explain their statement. This is one of her standard techniques with Mayor’s Questions so this one will come back at TfL in due time.

    The financial estimate is a bit old but it was given in the past in a written answer. I can see TfL’s point if people are making 4 trips a day. However that over simplifies how people travel in London and it fails to recognise that Oyster certainly was originally specced to allow single journey through ticketing. It also misses the point that making journeys cheaper and more convenient may well be revenue generative over time – I believe this is what happened when New York allowed free transfers between subway and bus using Metrocard. There was a massive jump in ridership which helped fund the cost of the initiative. TfL may not, of course, want a huge increase in bus travel as it would further overload parts of the system that can’t cope now never mind with another 5-10% growth. It also would not want the cost of expanding services as there’s no budget for this.

    I have no quibble with your other observations – all perfectly fair scenarios and which TfL need to cater for adequately. However I very strongly suspect that there is no money to do anything other than those things that JB has mentioned in the article – the Oyster change, training refresh and, as mentioned in the consultation, a publicity campaign.

    @ Anon 2005 – your remark about a residual Oyster system becoming ever more costly is the thing that bothers me. TfL have committed to the London Assembly that they will keep Oyster as an option alongside CBCs. However if they do effect a significant switchover to CBCs from Oyster then there must come a point when they have to “kill” Oyster for the public. They *might* keep a much reduced functionality to cater for special passes like Veterans, Over 60s, Freedom Pass (that can move to ITSO) and Staff Passes. Your point about people who cannot afford to run a bank account based system is well made. I have seen people loading up just enough cash for a journey or two on their Oyster card prior to travel – I assume this is because their finances are so tight. I shudder at the thought of a Wonga Card – that would see my MP on the war path to Sir Peter’s office door. 😉

  33. timbeau says:

    “We might want to add some kind of security to the device so there would be no point in stealing it, though cash hasn’t got that.”

    Not much good if you’ve lost it though.

    What about some sort of universal token that has monetary value, which can be made readily available in banks and shops and accepted anywhere, and can be transferred from one person to another (a sort of peer-to-peer transfer) to allow one of them to pay the other’s fare. A picture of a well-known member of the establishment could be put on it to confirm its authenticity.
    We could call it a Credit-Absent Simple Handling facility: or perhaps a Consumer-Oriented Income Nugget or Payment for Omnibus User-Neutral Device.

    What a pity I can’t think of any catchy acronyms.

  34. DavidG says:

    @Timbeau… how do you top up an Oyster at midnight? I recently tried to top up my Oyster at 11pm, with a £5 note, and was told by the newsagent that they couldn’t do it as the system was always off-line at that time, but that they could do it the next morning. I’ve no reason to disbelieve them — I’m a regular customer and they’re always polite, so is this actually true?

  35. Anonymous says:

    I was surprised how high the takeup of oyster on trains is. When I got off the train on Bank Holiday Monday at Hampton Court to hear a chorus of beeps from most people on board.

  36. A Bus Driver says:

    You’d be surprised how many cash payers there are on route 498. The majority of which are from the Brentwood area.

    An Inspector’s Ticket includes details on Oyster user numbers. It also lists the last 4 digits of any CPC card used on that trip.

    I would like to know when TfL plan to build in acceptance for the National Freedom Pass into the Oyster reader.

    Personally, I can’t wait for buses to go cashless. It’s been rumored within the industry since at least 2006.

  37. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Bus Driver – the English national concessionary passes should be made readable on TfL buses fairly soon. Those cards are issued to the ITSO standard. The DfT are funding an upgrade to the TfL network to allow all the Oyster readers on gates and buses to read ITSO standard cards. I believe the physical modifications (installing Tri-readers) were done long ago but the software and central system links have to be tested and commissioned. The modifications will allow any ITSO card with a compatible product to work on the TfL network (assuming it is valid). Therefore TOCs or commercial bus companies will be able to issue their own smartcards with products on them that work on to the TfL network. Well that’s the theory but I fear the painfully slow progress suggests there may be some issues requiring resolution.

    I am waiting to see the next TfL Board Papers where there will hopefully be a project update in the Quarterly Investment Report (unless TfL have changed the projects being reported on for financial year 2013/14).

  38. Greg Tingey says:

    John Bull
    Me too.
    Keeping the “travel” section of your payments separate (On an Oyster-equivalent or similar) is too valuable a safety precaution not to take.

    Ms Creasey is very hot on extortionate usurers – I’m very glad to say. Good for her!

    Moolah – Operational – Neverfailing – Yank-out (?)

  39. The other Paul says:

    “I’m surprised. My debit card has been CPC for three years and credit card for two years. Both from different banks. ”

    As, clearly are the hacks from Tfl, who like you all seem to bank with Barclays, RBS or HSBC.

    As of May Santander, Halfax and Nationwide have yet to do much more than dabble. Lloyds has only done a limited rollout. And what of the smaller players?

  40. MikeP says:

    @timbeau: (Are the number of bus journeys made) a lot or a little? If it’s a lot, that’s a lot of people inconvenienced by its removal. If a little, it’s not a major operational problem.

    If you count the cost of cash handling infrastructure (including the necessary security) as an operational issue, then the smaller the number of cash payers, the larger an operational problem it is, not smaller.

    Everything else you say, I agree with. Especially the names for the cashless payment replacement technologies in the later post. Though you missed the Extra Universal Replacement Option. Not deliberately, I hope.

  41. Anon5 says:

    Anon 21:25 putting Oyster readers inside trams might increase the risk of fare evasion. Those wishing to cheat the system won’t bother to touch in until they see an inspector board, and then dash to the nearest reader. The current system at least gives a degree of chance.

    It was one of the criticisms of the bendy buses although I still think many passengers had weekly tickets loaded on their cards and so didn’t need to touch in. Is this still the case with the NBLs and the former red arrow route where rear door boarding is allowed? Do passengers with travel cards loaded on to Oyster need to touch in?

    You could say that all night buses accept cash as a last resort, although this is made harder now some day routes are 24 hours.

    The other option is mobile payment: if someone loses their wallet containing a bank card and Oyster they could pay by phone. If they’ve been mugged for both wallet and phone then they’re stuck. But I’m sure people have already had their wallets or purses and phones stolen and not being carrying coins, so what do they currently do at 3am? Search out the police, an all night store from which to phone the police or walk.

  42. Greg Tingey says:

    More seriously
    The use of cash payment on buses is really as high as 1%?
    Which means, on a moderately full double-decker, you’d expect a cash payment every fourth or fifth stop, wouldn’t you?
    Which really does not happen, in most areas.
    As some writers have noted, there are some routes where cash, if not the norm, is used a lot more, & that these tend to be at the extreme peripheries.
    Meanwhile, in central & suburban London, since, Oyster/Freedom-pass introduction …
    Everyone streams on to the bus, there is chorus of “beeps” & we’re away – it’s (almost) as fast as getting on to an RT or a Trolley (or even an RM) in the “good old days”.

    Since then, of course, we had OMO & the ghastly slowness of bus-boarding, & interminably slow journeys (Central London in the late 90’s was truly ghastly on non-RM routes.) which is, thankfully, a thing of the past that we do not wish to return to. Now, when someone does not have an Oyster, the visible reaction, by the passengers is: “Oh noe, some prat with MONEY, we’re going to be here for AGES!” Conversely, when an intending traveller has run out of credit on their Oyster, then frequently, they simply get off the bus, & much less-often, fumble for coins …. And, with CBC / “wave-&-pay” on the way, of course, that is happening less often now.

    A question arises, which has been addressed by most of the corresponders to this thread: How does one accommodate the very occasional visitor, the lost-&-distressed, etc? Also, refusal of cash – coin of the Realm is a serious matter. [ Remember that notes are not, strictly speaking, money at all ]
    TfL do not seem to be interested in this quite serious question. They are only interested in the laudable aims of speeding up operation & getting rid of an extra system, that is costing them to operate.
    OTOH, there is the matter of “trust” – the denial by TfL of any problems with CPC over either overcharging or double-payment should be a warning to all of us. As several people (including me) have already said, keeping your travel-plastic separate from your “actual money” plastic is a really sensible division of both use & a security precaution against fraud & theft.
    Also, thanks to a collection of arrogant idiots, operating in the name of “security” in the USA, we now know that bank-card transactions are no longer secure, & can be (& are) “cracked” & read by unsympathetic persons.
    [ See here:
    AND here too: – for details on this scary development, which is worth a read, but, at present, at least, off-topic for this discussion, but may come to concern us all, in the not-too-distant future. ]
    Balancing all those needs, TfL’s desire to do away with costly & time-consuming procedures, & our own security & payment concerns ain’t going to be easy.

    TfL will do it & abolish cash, anyway.

    Another prediction … several times, people will try to pay cash, not having high-denomination notes (i.e. They’ll have the “correct fare” or slightly more, in coin.) & be refused by the bus driver(s). And then refuse to leave, AT ALL. Especially f this is late at night, etc.
    Then what? They, the intending passengers will have absolutely nothing to lose by standing their ground, will they?

  43. James Bunting says:

    To [email protected]

    The question of a Ticket Shop being open but the Oyster system not is something I am aware of. When my son heard about the consultation that was his first comment as he has had experience of this on more than one occasion. What is the cost to TfL in providing London-wide 24 hour access for prepayment to a 24 hour transport network?

    Auto-topup is a very useful feature that I am sure many more people could make use of. I certainly find it very useful. However, TfL don’t seem to promote it very strongly. Is this because of cost or having the ultimate goal of replacing it with using a CBC?

  44. Rob says:

    Is it too much to ask that people take responsibility for themselves (or their children) and make sure they have enough cash on their Oyster/CPC card before they try to travel?

    That way there will be no vulnerable people without money for their trip…

  45. The other Paul says:

    Is it too much to ask that people take responsibility for themselves (or their children) and make sure they have enough cash on their Oyster/CPC card before they try to travel?

    Give over Rob, you and I both know that it is.

  46. The other Paul says:

    Is there a case for having Oyster top-up machines inside buses as a kind of mitigation? That would at least remove cash handling from the driver. Or you could have a flat preloaded oyster machine, where a tenner will get you a new card pre-loaded with £5 credit, enough to get most people home and with a £5 deposit they can reclaim at a later date.

  47. Ed says:

    Where does the data come from? I’m sure anyone who has travelled on London buses has seen drivers faking the number of passengers boarding by hammering various pass buttons at each bus stop. If the ticket machines are the source of the data, then cash is definitely going to be underestimated.

  48. The other Paul says:

    Where does the data come from?
    Perhaps the amount of cash received divided by the flat fare? Unless the drivers are routinely stealing money, which seems unlikely, this would seem to me to be pretty accurate…

  49. Castlebar says:


    There were several comments about this very thing only a few days ago via another thread. As l am out of the office at the moment, perhaps somebody would kindly direct Ed to the appropriate page?

  50. timbeau says:

    @other Paul
    “Where does the data come from?
    Perhaps the amount of cash received divided by the flat fare?”

    That tells you how many cash fares are paid. But as Ed said “drivers faking the number of passengers boarding by hammering various pass buttons” will inflate the number of non-cash payers recorded, and consequently reduce the proportion of cash fares recorded in the mix.

    TfL, like anyone else, can of course decide what to accept in payment of a fare – the rules on legal tender (Coin of the realm) only apply to settlement of a debt, not to payment up front:
    Technically, a conductor has to accept cash if he doesn’t get to you before the bus starts to move, but in a pay-on-entry system the operator could insist on any payment method he chooses: be it pre-paid tickets, Oyster, live oysters, whatever.
    The answer to the £50 note trick is simple: there is no legal obligation to give change.

    As has been pointed out, many people carry two Oysters, and someone on the bus might be persuaded to donate (or sell) a stranded passenger a touch-in using their spare card.

  51. Michael Jennings says:

    The Other Paul:

    Australia introduced a locally designed, PIN based debit card system called EFTPOS very early – something like 1985. At the time, most credit cards in Australia were the local (now defunct) Bankcard brand rather than international brands such as Mastercard and Visa, and most credit card transactions were processed on paper in those days, so this actually preceded the widespread introduction of electronic transactions for credit cards. When Mastercard and Visa brought their international standard processing systems to Australia, EFTPOS was already established (and very successful), so two processing systems for electronic transactions came to exist side by side. (This is unlike the situation in the UK and Europe, where debit card and credit card brands have generally been owned by the same organisations and have been processed in the same way, if perhaps with different fee structures).

    To complicate matters further, banks in Australia took to issuing single cards that are both credit cards (using international standards for processing and signature verification) and debit cards (using the local EFTPOS system and PIN verification). If you went into a store and handed over a card, you would normally be asked “Credit or debit?”. If you said “credit”, the transaction was processed using the international system from Visa or Mastercard, you would sign, and the transaction would be charged to your credit card account. If you said “debit”, you would be asked for a PIN and the transaction would be charged to your bank account. Cardholders became used to a situation where signatures were for credit cards, and PINs were for debit cards. One way to be sure that the cashier had processed the transaction they way you wanted was that you were then given the correct verification system.

    This worked well enough for a while. 

The trouble then occurred when foreigners tried to use their foreign issued debit cards in Australia. These cards would only work with the international Mastercard/Visa system, and not the local Australian EFTPOS system. That is, they would work fine if they answered “credit” to the question in the store but would not do so if they answered “debit”, even though they were actually debit cards. This was confusing. Also, some Australian banks started issuing Mastercard branded debit cards, which would only work if you answered “credit” to the question, even though they were also actually debit cards. (Also, merchants did not like these because the fees were higher). Under pressure from the banks, some (but not all) Australians merchants started asking the question “Visa/Mastercard or EFTPOS?” rather than “credit or debit”, but this caused further confusion. This situation generally worked fine for Australians in Australia, who got used to the foibles. It was (and still is) problematic for foreigners in Australia, and Australians in foreign countries, however.

    Then, international card issuers introduced Chip and PIN. The chip part was fine. The PIN part was problematic. Firstly, international visitors came to Australia and found that their PIN cards would not work with the Australian PIN system. Chip and PIN was then introduced to Australia for Mastercard and Visa transactions too, but Australians were reluctant to use PINs for credit card transactions. A typical reaction from a customer to being told by a merchant to enter a PIN after saying it was a credit card transaction was to tell the merchant that he had entered it wrong and to refuse to do it, so uptake of PIN verification for credit card transactions was and is slow. Most credit card transactions are still signature verified, or not verified at all, although most Australian credit card terminals can now handle international standard chip and PIN. Plus you had a state of affairs in which there were two different PIN verification systems in place at the same time, and if you tried to process the card via the wrong system, there was a fair chance it would not work.

    This may be why Australians are taking rapidly to contactless transactions rapidly. It can be sold as an all new system rather than being confused with an old one.

    There is a lesson in all this, of course, is that it can be dangerous to implement a new technology first, before international standards are established. (Transport for London does know this well, making this comment hopefully more relevant to this blog). It is also dangerous when that early implementation is extremely successful (as TfL again knows), because you then tend to be stuck with it. EFTPOS really was one of the most advanced systems in the world in 1985, but it is now a strange legacy system that gets in the way a lot of the time.

  52. Castlebar says:

    I have been at Heathrow at 3 a.m. for a 111 to Kingston
    Another arrival had only been given travellers cheques and £50 notes by her bank in the USA
    The driver had no change and she was not allowed to travel.
    @ timbeau
    She was not employing any “£50 note trick”. £50 notes were the only UK currency she had been given and she was left stranded at Heathrow at 3a.m. Not nice! If l’d had a spare Oyster card or UK currency, I would have paid for her

  53. marek says:

    Drivers pushing buttons to count paper-based passes is unlikely to be a highly precise approach, but I can see no reason to assume that it would have a systematic bias one way or the other. I have seen drivers doing a burst of beeps, but I have also seen drivers taking no apparent notice of paper tickets.

    For a driver to be ‘faking it’, they would have to have some interest in the count being inflated above an accurate level, and I can’t see what that might be. If they are faking it, what is it that they are faking?

  54. John Bull says:


    To be fair, you’re well into the edgiest of edge cases there.

    And, realistically speaking, if you’re planning at landing at 3am anywhere in the world and immediately jumping on the bus, you should probably be thinking “you know what, I may want to get some low-denomination currency” before you board the plane!

  55. timbeau says:

    “She was not employing any “£50 note trick”.

    Of course – that is one of the few locations in London where one might expect to find someone with only a £50 note, and I’ve been caught out in “forn parts” in a similar way – most recently by not having the EUR 0.50 for the toilet at Innsbruck Hbf.

    I don’t mean to belittle the lady’s experience, but at 3am Heathrow is probably one of the best places in London to find somewhere open where you can buy something with your £50 note and get some change before the next bus – and even at 3am the 111 runs every half hour – at that time of night it is probably rather more reliable than when I generally have to use it!

    But people have been known to play that card, and if buses are cashless, it can be done with a £5 note.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Doesn’t TFL receive a lot of interest from Oyster PAYG cash balances? This income will be lost if there is a large scale switch from Oyster to credit/debit cards.

  57. The other Paul says:

    @Michael Jennings
    Thanks for the very detailed history of EFTPOS (for which I’ve always thought the marketing department was clearly absent in the naming phase) and the Australian card payment oddities. All serves to reinforce my point though that interoperability issues in Australia may be more down to negative expectation of retail staff than it is down to actual technical interoperability.

    @marek @timbeau
    If the proportions of non-cash to cash were more equal I’d agree that the accuracy of driver button presses might make a difference, but at 1%, come on! Statistically even if the drivers are pressing the button twice as many times as they should, which they don’t, and this meant that twice as many non-cash fares were recorded, which it doesn’t, we’re still only at 2% rather than 1%. So provided the recorded number of cash fares is fairly accurate, as I’ve mentioned it must be by measure of the amount of cash collected, then the figure is as accurate as it feasibly can be. Let’s say it’s 1% with an accuracy variance of +/- 0.5% shall we?

  58. Castlebar says:

    @ John Bull

    The plane was scheduled to land at 9:50 p.m.

    But the French had one of the regular air traffic controllers’ strikes on.

    THAT is the only reason why we were at the bus stop at 3a.m.

  59. Mwmbwls says:

    JB – Castlebar’s example is commoner than you think – particularly if you are flying in from Africa,the Middle or Far East.

    I suspect most jet lagged foreign visitors arriving with high denomination bank notes probably have no idea that presenting a high value note could cause difficulty.

    In large parts of the world, intending visitors obtain foreign currency from money changers or bureau de change. These routinely receive local currency which is recycled through the local economy and dispense foreign currency which is normally flown in using secure cargo services. In order to minimise the air cargo weight, high value notes only are usually carried. Any small value notes, for example £5 or £10 would only be issued if they had been received from a passenger arriving from the UK requiring local currency.

    I used to find myself standing outside W H Smiths at Heathrow waiting to buy an uncensored and current newspaper and a bar of Cadburys Fruit and Nut,( then on the Arab Boycott list), fuming as a foreign visitor endeavoured to change a £50 note for a trivial purchase – usually an uncensored newspaper and a bar of Cadburys Fruit and Nut.

    Some form of assistance at Heathrows Coach Terminal in providing change might be useful.

  60. Michael Jennings says:

    There’s just no way I am going to be able to obtain small denomination Armenian Dram at Heathrow before I fly to Yerevan. I am not always going to arrive at the expected time. Sometimes flights are diverted and people end up in a different country with a different currency to the one they expect. A lot of flexibility needs to be shown for airport transport. That means acceptance of credit cards at all hours. That means money changers at all hours. That means ATMs. That means drivers with change. That means staff with flexibility. In Poland recently, I found ticket machines on the bus that took foreign credit cards without a problem, even for 50p fares. If they can do it, so can we.

  61. Anonymous says:

    I assume they’ll allow paying for multiple passengers with a single CPC? I’m not sure if that’s allowed with Oyster, but how else would a family of tourists arriving in London pay for the bus?

  62. Disappointed Kitten says:

    All very well on the surface, but cashless cards are still prone to errors which can inadvertently land the passenger in hot water – many a time I have touched into the tube with an Oystercard through a faulty barrier (usually jammed open- don’t use them!) and then had to explain an incomplete journey. Sometimes bus machines don’t debit Oyster correctly, but the LCD display is so faint you can’t see the error message and only become aware when an inspector is writing out the fine. Sometimes Oyster readers debit cards that are a couple of feet away because they’ve been “turned up” too high. Many a time I’ve see poor tourists being treated like common criminals because they didn’t realise that Oyster won’t get them to the airport. And let’s not forget the confusion of privatised train companies refusing to accept Oyster or not letting you get off at certain stations – that little fiasco lasted seven whole years.

    The whole system is still full of holes and usability issues that can result in the criminalisation of passengers through an innocent mistake. The biggest benefit I can see from CPCs is ending all that nonsense of having to go to a nominated tube station to “charge up” Oyster from online top-ups when your card has run out – not much use if you don’t live in tube land and have to get the bus or train from further afield. You know where you are with cash. It’s worked for thousands of years and if it was good enough for the Sumerians, it’s good enough for me.

  63. Castlebar says:

    @ sad moggy

    You’ve reminded me that a couple of years back, I bought a one day travelcard at Hampton (SWT) station. My Oystercard was in my jacket pocket, at least 18 inches away from the reader as l went through the barrier. I heard a beep, but thought no more of it. But, the next time l tried to use my Oystercard, to my surprise, it was potless

  64. Catford Cat says:

    So instead of the bus being delayed because the driver has to find change for a £10-note, we will have the bus being delayed by a sob-story from a ‘vulnerable person’ with no electronic cash

    or the bus being delayed even more because the ‘not vulnerable’ person attacks the driver who has told them to get off and walk.

  65. Castlebar says:

    I have been at Heathrow when a European visitor to our green and pleasant land, (well, it was dark at the time), was absolutely flummoxed to discover that we generally do not accept Euros on buses or at public transport ticket offices

  66. The other Paul says:

    I have arrived in several countries on various modes of transport and suffered the challenge of having no suitable change. I especially remember a late night arrival on a train in Sarajevo where I asked a poor woman at a kiosk for change, and when she said she couldn’t I had to say, well, what if I buy something, and she looked forlorn and said that then she’d have to give me change!

    Generally airports are better equipped for these things, so it’s quite disappointing to hear that Heathrow is so bad. Seriously though, was there really nowhere open to get some smaller change for the bus? And not an oyster vending machine in sight?

  67. Michael Jennings says:

    The other Paul: There is no interoperability problem with foreign cards in Australia in terms of acceptance. Hand over any Visa, Mastercard, or even other common types and you will succeed in paying. Many readers do seem to be automatically set to process the transaction with a chip card without asking for a PIN, though. Whether the operator has the option of adding security by requiring the PIN, or whether PINs are required for larger transactions but not smaller, I don’t really know. When using the self-checkout counters in Australian supermarkets, I was not asked for any kind of verification – neither PIN nor signature. I found that a bit weird.

    There obviously is an interoperability problem in that cards that are Australian EFTPOS debit cards will not work overseas, but that’s generally okay because nobody expects them to work in the first place.

    On a different subject, I have also arrived in Sarajevo late at night. I confess that I could find no obvious way of paying for a ticket in order to ride one of Sarajevo’s charming trams, so I just got on without paying. Oh, the shame of it.

  68. John B says:

    Don’t forget visitors could be from other parts of the UK. I’d be very annoyed if I needed to get a Glasgow-Oyster card when there for the day because they didn’t accept cash. Readers of this blog are a distorted sample of London locals.

    I don’t trust CPC systems because of hacking, not wanting micro-payments cluttering my statements and the vague notion of proximity.

    I keep my oyster and bank cards in a wallet, and cash in a back pocket, so have backup if I forget one or the other. Without cash its a single point of failure.

    The 5 minute arguments when someone’s oyster card is rejected now inconvenience everyone else on a bus. It will only be worse when cash is not accepted.

    The 1% of cash transactions probably reflect the tourist/wrong trousers/stolen wallet scenarios that happen to us all 1% of our lives. A £1 premium on a bus fare seems much fairer than a £20 taxi premium. or a long walk.

  69. Walthamstow Writer says:

    JB – I think you are being a tad unfair. We can all end up in stupid situations unexpectedly. I arrived in Lausanne expecting it to be a breeze to buy a metro ticket to my hotel given it was super duper efficient and public transport focused Switzerland. Well I was daft to make that assumption. The ticket machine did not accept notes and I had small demonination notes but no coins. In the end I had to fiddle about trying to get a bank card to work for a tiny fare (and then be charged almost as much as the fare by my bank for the privilege). Similarly I suffered an Octopus card failure in HK on my penultimate trip of my holiday. Thank goodness the MTR staff were prepared to be flexible in letting me out of the system and then refunding my defunct card based on my guesstimate of the balance. Normally refunds take 2 weeks! I then had to dash to my hotel to collect my bags so I could get the Airbus to the Airport. Thank goodness they accept cash on the Cityflyer even if it means stuffing notes into a cash box chute! I have no idea why the Octopus failed given I’d never had any issues with the system before then. Now what would I have done if faced in HK with the likely TfL scenario of no Tube ticket offices and entirely cashless buses? I don’t know about you but I usually run down holdings of cash at the end of a holiday and I only just managed to scrape together HK$40 for my airport bus. We do need to consider how change will affect the very broad base of public transport users in a world city like London with a high proportion of visitors.

  70. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Disappointed Kitten – on your view about the key benefit of CBCs on the TfL network. Well, yes, prima facie I agree with you. However there is a bit of the picture that is missing at the moment. People will not necessarily know how much their travel is costing as they make it nor will they know what cap or “best value” calculation will be applied by TfL. I have not seen anything that sets out whether customers will be asked to “approve” any charges for daily or weekly capping based on journeys recorded by TfL against the CBC and then charges calculated by the giant “back office” system that will process the data. When you consider all the variables of day, time, zone, route and mode that affect fares and caps then it can all become bewildering. If TfL do not provide an “approval” mechanism via an on line Oyster account then it means people will be left to challenge their bank and / or TfL about what has been taken out of their bank accounts.

    A key element of trust in any new system will be how accurate and fair it is *and* how effectively any problems or errors are handled and rectified. You rightly say there are problems with Oyster and the extent to which people understand it. I think those issues are potentially far greater for a switch to bank card use. It is also inevitable that the slightest issue (whether serious or not) will be splashed all over the media within minutes of it happening. Interesting times ahead.

  71. The other Paul says:

    @John B
    I think medium-term ITSO will solve many of the problems for people from other parts of the UK, because the chances are they’ll have an ITSO-compatible card that they can use in London anyway, and even if they don’t, it’ll be more useful to obtain one that works around the country than it is to obtain an Oyster just to use in London (something that many people are happily doing regardless). Be interesting to see how it works though, presumably you will obtain and top-up your ITSO card via a single issuing authority no matter where you use it. Will fares then be universal, or will it be like mobile phone roaming where you pay a premium outside your ‘home’ network?

    I also don’t think it’s necessarily as frustrating for most people as you suggest. I have a Dublin ‘Leap’ card that I happily and pointlessly carry around in my wallet, despite having only been there twice in the last 10 years.

  72. Anonymous says:

    This one always makes me laugh…

  73. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, should have said that it is relevant to the cashless thing, not just a random spam from youtube – 25 seconds in is the killer line.

  74. JimS says:

    I have occasionally found myself with insufficient funds on my Oyster card. This is fine in Inner London where top-ups are easily arranged and buses frequent, but not so funny in the outer suburbs with few ticket stops and half-hourly services. In these circumstances I have resorted to cash, and have witnessed many others doing the same. Do not assume that the ticket machine will display the balance either, a string of garbage is also common. Perhaps – as already happens on the tube – Oyster Cards should be allowed to go into ‘debit’.

  75. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ The other Paul 2143 – I don’t wish to appear rude but you are joking about a national ITSO scheme aren’t you? While the standard behind ITSO allows for this theoretical possibility there isn’t yet an ITSO card that works across different bus companies of the big bus groups. Go Ahead are closest but aren’t there quite yet (Brighton and Hove / Metrobus are the nearest candidates). I think they have got the Key to work on Southern Rail and on Brighton and Hove *or* Metrobus. The rest of the country is a shambles to be frank. I’d have expected Stagecoach to have considered a national or even regional products to be portable on one of their Stagecoach Smart cards but no not yet. I’ve no idea where Arriva are in all this nor Transdev.

    First Group have a national scheme to accept CBCs and ITSO but don’t intend to issue their own ITSO spec cards. You will use your CBC but how that works regionally or with some form of “capping” I know not.

    Each of the PTEs seem to be sponsoring their own area smart tickets (Pop or Walrus or Swift are just some of the brand names knocking around). Each scheme seems to be struggling when it comes to getting commercial bus operators to participate in any meaningful way. As far as I can tell every scheme is also running late suggesting real underlying problems in making ITSO work in a way which is operationally and commercially acceptable. The proposed national schemes in Scotland and Wales also seem to be struggling.

    As you have assumed the logical thing to do would be for the DfT to broker the establishment of a national “bus clearing house” for want of a better word that would support the operation of a national (including Wales and Scotland) travel smartcard. The rail industry has Rail Settlement Plan but understandably they have enough on their plates getting ITSO to work on the rail network. We are supposed to see the first manifestation of “South East Flexible Ticketing” on C2C next year with several subsequent phases envisaged but that is rail only. Despite Norman Baker’s fine words about “national smartcards” I cannot see how we can from today’s fragmentation to a genuinely attractive and workable scheme unless the DfT really uses its power and influence to push things along and to accept that someone, somewhere has to deal with product definition and getting the data and money to work. The Plusbus scheme offers a sort of template to work from but even that is less than comprehensive and rarely has areas that join up to offer through travel across tickets.

  76. Graham H says:

    @WW – your tour de table of where the operators are at on ITSO only serves to emphasise the weakness of the whole thing – it’s operator-based. Operators, especially, in the bus industry, come and operators go, some routes have a different evening/weekend operator to the all-day one. How many ITSO cards is the poor punter going to have to carry? [It’s just the same with Plusbus – change of franchisee and goodbye Plus bus unless, which is rarely the case, it’s a franchise requirement].

  77. Geoff Smith says:

    They still haven’t provided for swiping the ITSO-based alien (“from elsewhere” to save any daft comments) concessionary bus passes, which I understood should have been ready two years ago.

    And a minor anecdote :
    Returning from the NA/PRO recently, at Kew Green a well-dressed woman with sheepish male in tow asked the driver of a 65 for “two returns to Richmond” (in the tone of “my good man”) ,
    “four pounds eighty”
    “how much are singles?”
    “they are singles”.
    For the whole journey this harridan, who didn’t look at all hard up, was moaning about the fare.
    If they were so clueless about the current arrangements what about the thousands of others, especially visitors?

    A great idea, but it will be interesting to see just how long it takes.

  78. Greg Tingey says:

    Mwmbwls, Castlebar & others.
    It is VERY EASY to get caught out with either “No appropriate money” or no smart/semi-smart card, actually. Then what do you do?
    I have been semi-trapped that way at Gare du Nord, of all places, because, although I had small-change in Euros, most of the short-journey ticket machines were “out” for some reason, there were monumental queues, & my existing multi-use ticket had just expired & I hadn’t been able to get one in London, before departure.
    Closing off all the escape routes is NOT a clever thing to do, actually.

    Michael Jennings
    But, such facilities coast money to operate, & one gets the impression that really big concerns really can’t give a toss about the 1% who happen to get stuffed by the inconveniencies that happen that particular day.
    TfL appear to be heading down that route … (perhaps)

    DK @ 16.30
    TfL/LUL have taken to displaying notices about jammed-open gates & “Please ignore gate – use separate Oyster-reader instead to avoid full-fare”
    At any rate, they have taken to doing this @ WC, anyway – & good for them!
    Ah, certain privatised train companies were (& still are?) run by bus Spivs are/were they not? Which explains a lot – they screamed & threatened to hold their breath until DafT gave in to their blackmail. A thoroughly reprehensible tale.
    [ NOTE: From last-night’s discussion …Bus operators are not “Bandits”, they are Spivs –as in “The Titfield Thunderbolt”, ahem. ]

    John B
    Be very, very afraid of hacking – see the links I posted way back up ….
    [ 07.43 / 10/09/2013 ]
    I carry an Oyster, but hardly ever use it, because I’m over 65, and the usual before 09.30 journey that I might & do make on National Rail is covered by a special pass ….
    But, I carefully keep my Oyster well away from my London Senior Citizens pass, just in case. I sincerely hope I never have to use “wave-&-pay” with a credit/debit card, as I don’t trust the security of the systems any more …

    WW 21.16 / 10/09/2013
    IIF a new, “completely-cashless” system is set up [ & I predict it will be ] then there MUST be an escape-route for the unfortunate, approx 0.5% who have been stuffed by circumstances, through no fault of their own.
    Unfortunately, we then run up against the problem usually described by the word: “Jobsworth” … the ticket-grippers who won’t let squaddies travel in uniform, the bus-drivers who turn teenage girls off the last bus, at night, so that they get attacked on the way home, the barrier-staff who refuse to help, or even let people without tickets cross the line, even though someone is dying of stab-wounds in front of them … ( And, yes, all of those have happened. )
    How does one arrange so that these sorts of things become less common, rather than more frequent?

    & @ 00.25 / 11/09/2013
    Err .. Oh do come on!
    I would expect Stagecoach to be the last company to make interoperability of cards to work. That way, they ( And, especially the Souters ) can rip you off for even more money for their crap services – after all, this is merely a variant of the trick they played on commuters from SW London for years (as mentioned above) isn’t it?

    As you have assumed the logical thing to do would be for the DfT to broker the establishment of a national “bus clearing house” for want of a better word that would support the operation of a national (including Wales and Scotland) travel smartcard.
    Can I fall about in hysterical laughter, right now?
    Come on, we already have an interoperable smartcard – it’s called “Oyster”.
    When ( As I assume) Crossrail does go to Reading, then I think the whole thing will fall down in a pile of poo – & said poo will be all over DafT’s face again.

    [Modded for language: JB]

  79. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – I don’t share your abject cynicism about Stagecoach. They are a business and will do what is best for their shareholders. Just because they contested a badly written and woolly franchise agreement in SWT land does not mean they are incapable of running decent bus services or introducing a smart ticketing scheme across their entire operation. You only need look at their decent track record of patronage growth, innovation and profit margins to see they are ahead of almost all their main competitors. I can completely understand why people may dislike Mr Souter and his views but he is, at least, brave enough to try new things to see if passengers will take to them. I am just surprised, given they have regional Dayrider and Megarider tickets, that this hasn’t really stretched across into a Stagecoach wide product or least portability across companies.

    I have to disagree with you about Oyster. I sat in the very early discussions with individual TOCs and ATOC and their major fear then was being lumbered with a proprietary system / technology and a sole supplier. LT was happy to go down that route at that time using PFI but TfL has slowly been digging itself out of that position for the last 5-6 years. The Future Ticketing Project and the attendant contract retendering that is happening now is another step in the process of “getting out from under” the dependance on Cubic equipment. Clearly there are “fashions” in procurement practice and TfL have decided to try to maximise the benefit of competitive procurement and use of industry standard kit wherever possible. This aligns with getting the banks to do your card issuing for you with the move to CBC use on the TfL estate. I think you are not looking far enough ahead when you say Oyster will somehow “rule the roost”. It won’t – TfL no longer want it and are working to get rid of it. DfT will not allow its extension to other TOCs and are pushing ITSO. ITSO is being made to work (some how) on the TfL network so you will see a future mix of CBC use, ITSO use from TOC passengers and a residual but declining Oyster card population. I agree you will probably be able to use an Oyster card to Maidenhead but I doubt DfT will allow it to go further as they won’t hand Reading Station over to TfL control! Yes Crossrail services might eventually reach Reading but we’re at least 10-15 years away from that happening. I doubt Oyster will still exist in that time frame.

  80. The other Paul says:

    Joking aside, I do think the best model for ITSO is the mobile phone-style “roaming” approach. If inter-operability can be made to work this would allow any operator to issue ITSO cards with PAYG credit that can be used elsewhere. It may of course have to be that, like with phones, there is a financial disadvantage to roaming, but it would at least deal with the casual visitors.

    All that said, it leads me to better understand TfL’s keenness to pass the financial management piece over to banks. I can see the dragons in the scheme. The trouble is, I’m not sure how comfortable people are with instant charges and their bank/card statements showing all the detail of their travelling in micropayments, Taking the phone analogy further, how comfortable would people be with every phone call being billed directly and individually to a card in the same way? Not very I’d say. If Vodafone, O2, EE et al accept it as part of their remit to run an itemisation and bilkling scheme for their customer’s usage, I think transport operators need to accept it as well. It is what I think people will want.

  81. SD says:

    I’m slightly lost here. If Oyster cards are eventually phased out, what will become of the Travelcards? Will they still be around?

    I prefer to seperate my travel cash from my main cash, but I could probably get used to using CBC. However I tend to just buy a weekly Travelcard at the moment and put that on the Oyster.

    Travelcards are 1000x more useful than constantly having to top up Oyster prepay I find, though that’s because I commute around London a lot.

  82. Michael Jennings says:

    ToP: I am curious exactly how the billing is going to work with CPC once charging is for more complicated things than simple bus fares. As it is at the moment, I pay for a bus journey using my contactless Amex card when I get on, and one charge for a single bus fare appears on my credit card statement. Once we have daily capping of bus fares, will this be replaced by a single charge at the end of the day? Once we use CPC for tube journeys in which the fare is not calculated until the end of the journey, where is the record of my journey stored prior to the charge? Does this mean TfL’s system will keep track of my movements, calculate my fare, and then just charge my credit card once in a while? If so, this isn’t much different than simply Oyster with auto-topup. (I agree with other people in this thread that auto-topup as it exists right now is a very good feature and well worth using). It’s still useful, in that I have one less card to carry, but how big a step forward is it?

  83. Michael Jennings says:

    I believe that the transport authorities in Hong Kong and Shenzhen have been trying to come to an agreement for Octopus cards to be accepted on the Shenzhen metro, and the equivalent Shenzhen card to be accepted in Hong Kong. I don’t think the currency exchange issues are much of a problem, but I don’t think they have otherwise made an agreement? Does anyone here know more about this than I do?

  84. MikeP says:

    @Michael J – as the stated goal is to make use of smarts on the card, and make less/no use of smarts in the network (hmm, the opposite of the move to “the cloud”, but let’s not go there…..), I don’t think your operational scenario can match what’s planned.

    But I would love to know the detail for PAYG. Let’s hope it’s well publicised in advance, and hopefully consulted on too, so that we can all scream together “I don’t want my bank statement cluttered up with all my public transport journeys”. I guess the travelcards will be easier, though.

  85. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ The Other Paul – the problem, though, is that PAYG is about the last thing that will be delivered on ITSO. It is all about loading a ticket of some sort on to the card which is exclusive to a rail or bus operator (by line or route or network). I recall reading a TfL document on rail devolution that ITSO, as specified then, was incapable of operating PAYG as TfL do (i.e. multi modal with capping). I suspect that the complexity of rail ticketing rules and the product range is what is proving difficult for the TOCs and RSP to translate into ITSO compatible tickets. That is a guess though. TOCs have no concept of PAYG as a national rail product – the TfL model is all they are familiar with but it’s no replicated anywhere else in the UK.

    I await TfL’s plans around CBCs and charging / accounts with interest.

  86. SD says:

    I’ve had a look at West Yorkshire’s Metro system and they seem to be going towards a TfL model – they already have zonal fares and travelcards, and are going towards pre-pay….

    Manchester doesn’t seem to have done the same thing which is strange, though I think they’re looking towards zonal fares…. Surely imposing the London style zonal fares + Travelcard model [with a CBC or pre-pay option] is a no brainer for every major urban centre in the UK.

  87. SD says:

    Actually I may be getting the wrong end of this discussion anyway, so ignore me if I’m making no sense!

  88. Paul says:

    What about doing the opposite and making buses Oyster Top Up points – no longer can people complain there isn’t one near them, or that they are closed, and the guy that I see at least once a week who gets on the bus only to discover, to his horror and suprise, that he has no credit on his oyster card, and the bus driver doesn’t have change of the £50 note he keeps in his pocket (the only money he has on him). The driver can happily take the £50 and credit the full amount to his oyster card, then take the fare for that journey. Everyone is a winner!

  89. answer=42 says:

    A few questions, a bit of speculation.
    WW wrote:
    on the TfL network so you will see a future mix of CBC use, ITSO use from TOC passengers and a residual but declining Oyster card population.
    Seems a reasonable forecast to me but what strikes me is that TfL are putting all their eggs in the CPC basket. Clearly, this makes financial sense but it places an all-in bet that CBC is going to be adopted as a universal standard.

    Well, will it? On the plus side, the link that The Other Paul provided shows that all Brit banks interviewed are either adopting CPC either on request or as a matter of course, about to do so or are studying the issue. TfL is probably a big enough fish in the Brit pond to be able to achieve general adoption by Brit card issuers.

    But what of the world beyond the Channel Tunnel portal / end of Heathrow runway? This matters for two reasons:
    1) There are a lot of tourists. Having a heap load of non-Oyster carrying tourists is not a problem when Oysters are in general use but having a dirty great big pile of non-CPC carrying tourists could be a problem when the Oyster card has passed to that great Oyster Bed in the Sky. What will TfL do: sell pre-charged CPC cards to tourists (and the unbanked) only? How much will that cost?
    2) If CPC fails to catch on internationally, it will eventually be dropped by the banks. There are a great many players who want to be involved in the post-cash payments world: banks, credit card companies, telephone companies, telephone makers. Hey, I hear that Apple have a new iPhone out which has an integrated fingerprint reader. Now what’s that all about? Making bank payments by mobile phone is becoming common in Africa – seems they’re ahead of the rest of the world in this. According to Wikipedia (unattributed), US CPCs work to a different standard. According to French Wikipedia, outwith the UK, the only countries with significant uptake are USA, Canada, Hong Kong and South Korea.

    Another reason why CPC may not get universal acceptance – and this one is non-foreign. CPC works using RFID. (Opens major can of worms – well someone had to do it). An RFID chip will respond to interrogation by any RFID reader. The reader, which can be hidden, will know which chip is which. And through the magic of linked databases and Big Data, your identity and hence location can be deduced. So one can imagine that some people, say senior movers-and-shakers, police, tabloid fodder, Edward Snowden, teenagers who don’t want their Mums to know where they are, people who don’t want their spouses to know where they’ve been and so on, might be a bit reticent to carry such a card. And this could amount to a significant percentage of the population.

    There has already been a scandal in which the City of London rubbish bins which showed changing internet-based advertisements were also secretly collecting identity information from the mobile phones of passers by. This has been switched off now (that what they said, anyhow). Did you not read about this? Obviously the information has been suppressed by a conspiracy of …. (fill in by personal prejudice)

    But a mobile phone that can be turned off (although some new Google phones can’t be) will only provide its location when turned on, perhaps for only a short time at a tube station.

    Perhaps a side bet on mobile telephone based payment technology could be worthwhile for TfL.

  90. Sikpc says:

    Great article!
    Are we (oyster) considered early adopters of smart card technology? How about the Octopus card in Hong Kong which I’ve used frequently since the late 90s? It started out just like Oyster i.e for travel only but over the years has been expanded to paying for stuff in coffee shops, convenience stores, cinemas and much more.
    When Oyster was introduced, I was looking forward to these facilities being added over time but I’ve given up hope.

    Anyone with views on why this hasn’t happened quicker? Are there technological limitations to the Oyster platform or are there other factors?
    Partnering with banks solves the revenue management challenges I guess but the number crunching for journeys on our complex network remains with TFL.

  91. Long Branch Mike says:


    Manchester doesn’t have zonal fares or a Travelcard mode. Having visited there twice a year for the last 18 years, I’ve seen their Metrolink LRT system more than double in size, but the bewildering array of passes (tram only, bus & tram except peak time, bus & tram including peak time, bus & train*2, tram & train*2, bus only, train only), corresponding ticket machine button options, and names (RailRanger, Wayfarer, bus company only fares & passes) is the one thing they have still got completely wrong. What a nightmare, and a real disincentive to take public transport there. Furthermore the lack of a zonal system means the bus, commuter train, & tram networks are effectively all competing against each other for passengers.

    Hopefully as another commentor commented, all major (& minor) British cities’ll have a zonal & travelcard system, that can be used in any other British city. I’m not familiar with ITSO but I presume that’s one of its goals.

    PS Mwmbwls I believe you live in Manchester. I would be interested in meeting up with you on my next visit there. Is there a way the admins can get us in contact via email?

  92. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ M Jennings / SD – I think we’re wandering into the territory of JB’s next article but from what I understand of the CBC proposal on TfL’s network the bank card is used to generate transaction data on buses, at gates and at validators. I assume that where cheaper routes are available by touching a pink validator that passengers will be required to touch their CBC as they pass the relevant route validator. No journey is held on the CBC and there is no way a gate or validator can display a fare on exit. I guess they will show the bus fare on the ETM when you board but there’s no way to change it to reflect a cap being applied because there is nothing on the bank card to allow this. TfL will collect all the data in its new “back office” system and, I assume, will put it into a sequence of travel and then calculate the fare due for each leg. Then a calculation will be made to determine a daily charge. Weekly capping is planned as a later stage.

    More assumptions are that the daily caps will align to those used for Oyster. For weekly capping it will align to the applicable 7 day Travelcard price. The trick for TfL will be ensuring that people are charged the absolute minimum cost even if they have strayed beyond their “usual” pattern of travel. Let’s imagine someone commutes Z2 to Z1 and back 5 days a week using tubes and buses. This would most likely cost more in individual fares than the 7 day Z12 Travelcard so TfL would cap at that price. However the person wanders into Zone 3 a couple of times over the week. TfL’s process will need to calculate whether a Z12 7 day T/C plus the PAYG extension charges to Z3 are less than charging the person for a Z123 7 day Travelcard. There are, of course, a myriad other combinations if people uses buses more but rail less or only travel 4 days out of 7. And then there is the complication of equipment failure, missed validations or incomplete journeys. I await with interest how TfL will deal with all of this when it comes to calculating charges, caps and the application of any “standard fares” when the passenger is genuinely at fault! I don’t believe there is an approved plan to use CBCs for monthly or longer period tickets yet – it’s clearly a very complex task. Ditto for how discounts such as Railcards could be reflected with the use of CBCs.

    TfL have said that their website revamp will include a stronger level of “personalisation” to individual users and this also links to paying for TfL services. The concept of a “TfL account” has been cited by TfL whereby you can pay for travel, congestion charges etc through one account on the TfL website. I assume people will be presented with options about what bank account they wish to link to which service. I would guess that charges for public transport use will be a daily or weekly charge on someone’s bank statement with the journey detail held in the TfL online account. Please note this is all my own guesswork and interpretation of what little TfL have said. The introduction of CBC use on rail modes plus daily capping is now scheduled for early 2014 having slipped from late 2013. Weekly capping is possible for late 2014 but I suspect it will be early 2015. Perhaps JB has a stunning exclusive from the TfL press office up his sleeve that will reveal all?

  93. SD says:

    Despite the mechanics of how it works capping wise I’m always going to prefer having a seperate transport card TBh, as it just makes things easier to keep track of.

  94. Anonymous says:

    With the demise of the cash fare there will no longer be the incentive for tfl to keep cashless payment much lower than the cash payments.Could it be a tfl plan to shoot up cashless payments.Time will tell.I would say keep the cash payments as a gaurantee to keep cashless charges down.Beware Londoners.

  95. Castlebar says:

    …………..but WHY should the CHEAPEST routes need to be confirmed via having to touch in at the pink validator??

    When you think about getting from A to B, is it beyond rocket science to make these pink validators unnecessary? How often is the cheapest route actually the longest?

  96. timbeau says:


    “How often is the cheapest route actually the longest?”

    Many journeys on the orbital parts of the Overground, which stay out of Zone 1, are slower than going through the middle – e.g West Brompton to Whitechapel – or West Hampstead to Canada Water

  97. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @Castlebar – the alternative is that we turn back the clock back where people had no choice of route and fares are largely charged via Zone 1 regardless of how people travel. I have no issue at all with the idea of people being asked to tap on a validator to indicate the route taken. What I have a massive objection to is the lack of publicity and information to explain to passengers how the fares system actually works – for PAYG *and* Travelcard users who do not have Z1 as part of their validity. I also object to the lack of publicity, other than via a private website and FOI requests, about changes to fares and the provision of extra pink validators which could lower people’s fares. Just such a change is imminent with pink validators due to be installed at Surrey Quays and Clapham Junction to allow cheaper travel via these interchanges and New Cross thus lowering fares in South London as a result of the newish Overground service over much of the old SLL.

    My other major grouch is the lack of consistency as to where routed options apply. One example – Crouch Hill to Wandsworth Town is assumed to be via Zone 1 only despite a valid but slow route being available via Gospel Oak and Clapham Junction. However Crouch Hill to Twickenham has a lower fare priced via Gospel Oak and Richmond and you have to touch pink validators at both places. However with the imminent introduction of a pink validator at Clapham Junction have TfL provided lower priced fares from Crouch Hill to stations west of Clapham J as far as Richmond? – nope! Completely ridiculous.

    The fares system does not all work to people’s disadvantage. There are some journeys where the default fare is the cheapest and assumes use of orbital lines *without* any pink validation required. Needless to say some of the journeys can be done across Zone 1 without being charged for Zone 1 because there is open interchange between tube services and people don’t trip across gates which would detect you in Zone 1.

    No one is saying the system is perfect – it isn’t because so many journeys are easiest via Zone 1 and therefore there is a long standing presumption that is how people travel and how rail revenue accrues to TfL and the TOCs. Clearly the Overground orbital lines are changing journey patterns and some of that is down to price. I would just prefer a properly assessed and logical basis for priced route options. I also think TfL should provide an easy to use dedicated comms channel to raise these fares and route issues.

  98. MikeP says:

    @Paul – Providing Oyster top-up facilities on buses would negate what is almost certainly the major cost-saving motivation for removing cash payments from buses – cash handling. As I learnt some years ago (in the context of pressing for more user-friendly P&D parking), cash handling ain’t cheap.

  99. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    The fares system does not all work to people’s disadvantage.
    One example I used to do and I presume was totally legal was Purley to Blackfriars via London Bridge and change at Blackfriars for Elephant & Castle which was actually the quickest route. I had actually gone into zone 1 and out again but touched in at Purley and touched out at Elephant & Castle so it got counted as a zone 6 to zone 2 journey. In a sense that is only fair because why should I be disadvantaged simply because the the journey at certain times of the day is very awkward without going via zone 1?

  100. Castlebar says:

    It used to be the case with journeys that if you went via a longer route, you paid more. Now it seems you can pay less

    I remember Castlebar Park to Oxford Circus was ONLY available via a change at Ealing Bdy. If you wanted to go via Greenford and still go direct on the Central Line, you had to “alight” at Greenford and go downstairs to buy an individual Central Line only ticket, but because of legacy issues from GWR days, Castlebar to Ruislip Gardens was available as a through ticket.

  101. Snowy says:

    I must say that a £24million/yr saving seems quite impressive by not having cash. Particularly as some table top calculations would suggest TFL would lose approx £22million/yr in revenue if all 60,000 cash users switch to oyster/CPC (on the basis of the £1/trip paid less).

    I wonder if their savings include that lost revenue as it almost seems as if cash payment is almost cost neutral if you count the £2million as social benefit. In fact if you add in the people with not enough oyster credit this makes £35million/yr in lost revenue & cash fares would appear to pay their way with profit.

    On the other hand if TFL can save a total of £54million/yr (lost revenue & operational £24million saving) then this is not a figure to be sneered at.

  102. Long Branch Mike says:


    “It used to be the case with journeys that if you went via a longer route, you paid more. Now it seems you can pay less”

    Shouldn’t fares be charged to incentivise the (often slower) routings that avoid Central London?

  103. John Bull says:

    I wonder if their savings include that lost revenue

    Yup. That’s already been factored into the savings calculation – as has a minor increase in the number of passengers who’ll be waved on.

  104. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Castlebar – you are quite correct that in times past there were expensive tickets based on a summation point or else requiring people to rebook. I used to programme fares data so was very familiar with the disparities – for example a route like Barking Gospel Oak in BR days was expensive as it was mileage priced not zonally priced. There have obviously been considerable moves in recent years to try to align NR and TfL fare scales but we’re not there yet. TfL taking over the former Silverlink Metro has pulled fares down as has tweaks to zoning for specific stations (e.g. Hampstead Heath and Willesden Junction). TfL has also pursued a policy of premium pricing Zone 1 to reflect the huge demand on that part of the network. I suspect if TfL had a free hand then fares in or through Zone 1 would rise considerably but so would those for journeys in Zones 2 and 3 to try to pull in more revenue from Overground and DLR services. Of course fares are subject to political control in London so there isn’t a free hand and Boris is constrained by public opinion and the Government. If I am reading between the lines properly expect the Chancellor to (re)announce, at the party conference, retention of RPI + 1% fare increases for the 2014 fares revision.

    The other factor is on journeys involving NR and TfL to or via Zone 1 – these are subject to an extra charge but one that is less than the Z1 tube fare. No such charge is applied for non Z1 interchanges. This is why it can be advantageous for people to change at Vauxhall as it is a Z12 boundary station – you don’t pay for rail into Z1 and then tube into Z1. Look up the PAYG fare from Earlsfield to Oxford Circus (as an example) to see the difference in fares.

    In some respects the fares system has been simplified (zones and narrowing the difference between LU and NR fares on PAYG) but it is also more complex as TfL have very high cash fares while NR do not. We also have the complication of three PAYG tariffs when ideally there should be one. Regrettably the Mayor does not seem enthused about pushing for that single tariff – it seems to have disappeared from the political agenda.

  105. Graham Feakins says:

    TfL lists overseas agents who can sell paper tickets and Oyster cards for visitors from overseas:

    Furthermore, TfL has web pages in various languages such as this one in German:

    Moreover, once you have arrived, the touch screen ticket machines at all LU stations can now be accessed in 17 languages:

    I bet you won’t find that in, say, Derby!

    Surely, when one plans to travel abroad, one tries to include information on local travel prior to departure. On the other hand, numerous hotels in towns and cities throughout Continental Europe include a travel pass for the local trams, buses and railways valid for the duration of the stay. In Germany, long-distance tickets on the Deutsche Bahn also automatically include a pass for all local transport at the destination station valid for one hour after arrival time to enable you to reach your final destination, e.g. hotel. Does any of this exist in the UK?

    And why is there such a problem with those who fail to realise on the previous journey that their future journeys may be in jeopardy because their Oyster card needs to be topped up? A visual warning flashes up e.g. on the exit gate or bus on the previous journey. Don’t blame the system – it seems to me to be simply the usual lack of awareness of the folk concerned.

  106. Graham Feakins says:

    Walthamstow Writer 00:25, 11 September writes: “…While the standard behind ITSO allows for this theoretical possibility there isn’t yet an ITSO card that works across different bus companies of the big bus groups. Go Ahead are closest but aren’t there quite yet (Brighton and Hove / Metrobus are the nearest candidates). I think they have got the Key to work on Southern Rail and on Brighton and Hove *or* Metrobus.”

    This is the Southern link to how extensive their “Key” is so far:

    Within that, these comments may be of interest:

    1. Can I get the key from outside of the UK? – Anyone wishing to travel to and from stations currently enabled for key card use will be able to go online and order a key smartcard.

    2. Can I use the Brighton & Hove bus key smartcard on Southern trains? – No, currently the Brighton & Hove smartcard will not be valid on our Southern trains nor will our Southern smartcard be valid on buses. However Plusbus in the Brighton and Crawley areas is available if you wish to add a weekly bus ticket on to your Southern key card. We will be working towards this during 2013 and will provide further information on this website as to when this will be available.

    3. Can the key be used on Gatwick Express services? – Not at the moment but smartcards will be available on Gatwick Express services when our rollout arrives along the relevant section of the Brighton Main Line later in 2013.

    4. Is the key compatible with London’s Oyster system? – The key is based on the national specification for smartcards which is ‘ITSO’; Oyster cards are not currently compatible with this system. However, the Department for Transport and Transport for London are now working to ensure that Oyster readers are compatible with ITSO so that the key will work across the London Underground network by the end of 2014.

    5. Why is the key not yet available at all Southern Stations? – The key is being rolled out along the Southern network in a phased approach until the end of 2013 to help with testing and implementation. A pilot for testing was conducted on the route between Brighton and Seaford. This route was chosen because:
    •We were the only train operator on this section of the route which meant we could test it ourselves before expecting other train operators to become involved
    •There was a good diversity of passengers in this area with students, season ticket holders and leisure travellers
    •Linking to Brighton helped start an early understanding of how we might operate our multi modal scheme with Brighton & Hove buses
    •There is logic in starting on the coast and working up towards London. This is principally as we must wait for London’s Oyster style ticket gates to accept our style of smartcard which is likely to happen by the end of December 2013
    Refer to Southern’s Q&A for further info. At least you can see that Southern is making a good effort to trial the Key and to work with TfL and Oyster. Of course, it will likely be that Oyster has to adapt to ITSO rather than the other way around.

  107. Rob says:

    Just a thought – but how do transport systems elsewhere manage? Do they all allow cash fares on buses or only cashless ticketing? What “safety” mechanisms do they have in place.

    I don’t have the knowledge – but wonder if there are those who do who could add that information into the mix.

  108. NG says:

    Whilst we are talking about fare systems that put people off travelling by bus, how many systems in the past 25 years changed to a sealed cash box with no change? Many towns provided no information at stops as to what the fare might be so there was the prospect of either having enough change to be able to make any fare exactly or having to overpay. My last visit to Nottingham encountered cash boxes there but fare info at the stop enabled me to have correct change ready – and in Nottingham the Countdown Next bus information seems to be more extensively deployed than in London, giving extra confidence to out-of-towners to use the local buses.

  109. John says:

    Bus drivers selling Oysters for £10 should be easily doable.

    Supposing I travel for 8 continous days from Z1-6. The first day is a Monday bank holiday. I would obviously get capped on day 1 at £8.50 and then buy a weekly from days 2-8. I doubt the “automatic capper” would do that, instead charging me the weekly rate from day 1-7 and making me pay £16 for the peak cap on day 8. (The solution is to allow monthly passes for calendar months only and weekly passes from Monday-Sunday only, which is the case in many places around the world, though would hurt if implemented in London.)

    The HK and SZ combined card holds 2 balances, it is basically 2 cards stuck together.

    Buses in HK accept cash with no premium. If pensioners wish to pay the $2 flat fare (substantial savings on a $20 fare), they need to use the Elder Octopus, otherwise they pay half the adult price.

  110. timbeau says:


    I remember Lincoln City Transport had “exact fare” cashboxes forty or more years ago. The idea, I believe, was partly to speed things up but also meant that drivers (or robbers) did not have access to the cashbox. Any money put in the box stayed there until the bus returned to the depot.
    Drivers could issue vouchers for change, but these were only redeemable at the bus garage (not on the bus, against futire journeys), so at least 50% of the time it meant another bus ride to go and collect it.

    The problem with most “exact money, no change given” schemes is the habit of the operators to charge odd amounts that you are unlikely to have the right money for, necessitating overpayment: my local hospital’s Pay & Display car park charges in multiples of £1.80: what is the probablity of having the exact amount on you? (quite apart from being expected to know, when you arrive, which multiple you are going to need? – how long are you going to be in A&E, in labour, by auntie’s deathbed?)

  111. Malcolm says:

    When visiting Beijing I tried hard to buy a multi-trip bus ticket. Did not do so in the end because although it was a big relative saving on the cash fare, it required paying up front for 200 journeys: hard to use these in a 4-day visit. And anyway the cash fare was 1 yuan : about 10p!

  112. John Bull says:

    Bus drivers selling Oysters for £10 should be easily doable.

    Except you’re instantly back to accepting cash again, when the goal is explicitly to move away from that.

    It really is worth remembering that the issue here is not that TfL have an innate dislike of cold hard cash, nor – in reality – that they have an overwhelming desire to know the exact movements of everyone across the network (collecting such data is one thing, but being able to do something useful with it is actually much harder).

    It’s that handling cash carries a significant overhead, both physically and procedurally, and that this carries a non-scaleable “all or nothing” cost penalty – i.e. that you have to cover it whether your total daily transactions are £1 or £10,000,000.

  113. Graham Feakins says:

    And some will recall LT’s original Red Arrow bus services, where the aim was exact fare if possible but nevertheless ticketless. First worked with on-board turnstiles and small-change machines, this progressed to exact fare only, dropped into a box by the driver. The concept worked well because the majority of users were regular. No fuss handling tickets and the cash (all 6d’s) was easy to handle when the bus returned to depot. Of course, this was an era when bus passes and the like were not the norm.

  114. marek says:

    @Graham Feakins

    And why is there such a problem with those who fail to realise on the previous journey that their future journeys may be in jeopardy because their Oyster card needs to be topped up? A visual warning flashes up e.g. on the exit gate or bus on the previous journey. Don’t blame the system – it seems to me to be simply the usual lack of awareness of the folk concerned.

    On the contrary, this is one of several significant design failures in adapting osyster to buses. Yes, there is a display on the ticket machine which shows the status of the card, but it is almost impossible to read in normal circumstances. The display is very low contrast dark grey type on a slightly less dark grey background, positioned at a height and direction which is nowhere close to the sightline of a passenger getting on a bus in a normal way. I find it very hard to read even when I am deliberately trying to, the idea that it would catch my attention when I wasn’t is just not real. That’s not just a hypothetical problem – more than once I have realised several days late that I had misssed the expiry of a monthly bus pass and was unintentionally eating in to my PAYG balance.
    Meanwhile, the tickeet machines have both a beep and a light. They are only used at present to give pass/fail signals and to separate children and adults, but it shouldn’t be hard to devise a way – an amber light, a two tone beep, which was a low balance or imminent expiry warning.
    For most people, auto topup is a much better answer – but we also need to remember those whose financial precariousness means that that is not a safe option for them.

  115. Castlebar says:

    @ Malcolm 9:27

    When the Ealing routes fell victim to the Bus Re-shaping Plan in 1968, routes E1, E2 & E3 also used such a system. If you bought a strip of tear-off, card tickets from the driver, that journey was “free”, then for the remaining journeys you either dropped 6d OR a card ticket into the fare-box. I don’t know how long that system lasted, and it may not even have survived decimalisation, but I’d moved away by then.

  116. Greg Tingey says:

    DK 16.30 hrs – 10/11/13
    [ Revisitng an earlier post with 2nd/3rd thoughts – oops. ]
    Many a time I’ve see poor tourists being treated like common criminals because they didn’t realise that Oyster won’t get them to the airport. And let’s not forget the confusion of privatised train companies refusing to accept Oyster or not letting you get off at certain stations – that little fiasco lasted seven whole years. Yes, well, I did mention “Jobsworths” further back up, didn’t I?

    Seriously, how does one deal with that problem?

    At a count one day, the station we were on had a really serious “grip” –approx 10 each of ticket-inspectors & police, & watching those who were trying to evade payment was most amusing, in a cynical sort of way. However, I asked one of the inspectors & he reckoned that somewhere over 1% & under 2% (He put it as: “Slightly less than one-in-fifty”) passengers didn’t have validity … but that quite a lot were run-out-of-Oyster-credit … but without realising it (i.e. they were in credit when they started their journey) &/or had made genuine mistakes. These were, certainly in a situation like that, either asked to pay up using a credit/debit card (The team had portable machines for this), or sometimes let off. The deliberate criminal evaders, who tried to bluster, or run away got dealt with severely, I’m glad to say. But, as he said, you got the occasional confused / lost / misinformed / genuine hard-luck case … & that they were the difficult ones to deal with.
    Going over to totally cashless is going to make this sort of thing more difficult, not less, though, again, bus-travel & train-travel don’t equate completely.
    As for some privatised TOC’s … well, they hurt themselves, in the end, because, IIRC, when they finally accepted Oyster, their revenues went UP, in spite of all their long-term handwringing. [ Someone correct me, if that is wrong, btw ]

    Also – Castlebar
    How does one deal with this occasional “remote-operation” of an Oyster that you have not swiped?
    Technically, that is theft, is it not? “They” ( either SWT or Tfl I presume) have taken your money for no return of goods or services.
    How does one obtain redress?

    John B
    Actually, the problem needs restating, doesn’t it?

    It isn’t so much that TfL are proposing to do away with cash (for the buses) as they need to totally revise their procedures for those 0.5-> 1% who will be lost/confused/robbed/”which way is up?” that happens to all of us at some time or another.
    And do it fairly, & without persecuting the innocent.
    Not going to be easy, is it?

    WW 00.25 hrs 11/09/13
    Your critique of an ITSO-system that does not work across the board is very true, but misses the point (I think). There was already an operating, expanding smart-card system here – it’s called: “Oyster”. But, IMHO because someone else had thought of it, DafT were determined that ABO (Anything But Oyster) had to be the standard & insisted on not-yet written-or-tested vapourware.
    And now, we are living with the consequences of that, & it is probably too late, & too expensive, to back up & try again …

    Yes, there are times when one needs to balance the options.
    My wife has an annual “BR” season, i.e. point-to-point. Saves her approx £600 p.a. She also has a PAYG Oyster, for other running-around. Yet, there are, once or twice a year, occasions when a one-day card may ( & I emphasise MAY ) be more useful & cost-effective.

    WW 11.34 hrs 11/09/13
    Writing the software is going to be great fun, isn’t it?

    Like the idea of an Oyster top-up on the buses, but where are you going to put them? They will have to have a proper credit/debit card-reader, like an ATM, are they not? Err ….
    – & Mike P …
    No, I’m sorry to say. Still no cash-handling, just an ATM-style reader. But, even that is going to be difficult

    Well, it’s too late already.
    The Panopticon society is here, now. It will take a year or two for it to sink in, but it’s too late. The potential for misuse by guvmint & those in petty power is very scary indeed & waaaaay off-topic to this thread. But, using CPC-via rfID is a conveniently-ignored problem, isn’t it?
    “Nothing to hide? Nothing to fear” Yeah.

    And, of course, there’s a reason for that … Zone 1 is the expensive, really expensive one to operate. The big rail termini & especially the sub-surface stations cast shedloads to run, because they are large &/or under the ground, requiring expensive services & lots of expensive staffing to operate safely. So that, a jouuney that avoids zone 1 should cost less.

    WW 22.50 11/09/13
    Please don’t open that can of worms again!
    Point-to-point (“BR”) fares can be, & often are cheaper than zonals. Hence our real worry about TfL/OvergrounD taking over the Chingford service, & my wife having to pay approx £600p.a. out of taxed income, for exactly the same service, with no improvement. Zonal is not always, every time, the correct answer.

    Graham F
    And Eurostar offer Oyster tickets to incomers on their London-bound services (sometimes, at least)
    However, your post on the future availability of ITSO tickets via “Southern” & area buses suggests to me that we have a target date for all of this to start to work, with true interoperability – probably the December 2014 timetable change?
    If so, that would explain why TfL are “consulting” right now, wouldn’t it?
    So that they can roll-out cashless at that date (or similar)

  117. timbeau says:


    Ticket strips were certainly still in use on the E3 when I started using it in 1977, but I think they had died out by the time I moved away in 1979.

    Exact fares work reasonably well when the fare is a single coin (e.g the 6d Red Arrows) – most regular users can make sure they keep a stock of the requisite coin. But the current London bus flat fare of £2.40 requires at least three coins, of two different denominations (one of which is not very common) of a .

    I couldn’t pay an exact fare of £2.40 using the change in my pocket right now. How many readers could?

  118. @Greg

    How does one deal with this occasional “remote-operation” of an Oyster that you have not swiped?
    Technically, that is theft, is it not?

    I don’t really understand what you are suggesting and don’t know what the evidence for it is but whatever it is, as I keep telling you, technically it is not theft. First of all there has to be intent (people frequently forget that bit), secondly there has to be something physically stolen e.g. coins. Wrongly changing the data stored in a smart chip under certain circumstances would be embezzlement. It would be pretty hard to pursue an accusation against a firm unless evidence could show it was sanctioned at the highest level as a matter of company policy for improper purposes.

    Is there any strong evidence for this actually happening rather than a number of people in a population of around 8 million being convinced it is happening ? – to which category one can add influence of the planets on our fortune, people being abducted by aliens, the power of ley lines etc.

  119. timbeau says:

    “My wife has an annual “BR” season, i.e. point-to-point. Saves her approx £600 p.a. She also has a PAYG Oyster, for other running-around. Yet, there are, once or twice a year, occasions when a one-day card may ( & I emphasise MAY ) be more useful & cost-effective”.

    This is the combination I have, too, for the same reasons. Surely the daily cap is effectively the equivalent of the one day card on those occasions?

    The problem with having that combination, apart from absent mindedly trying to use the wrong card and Oystering a journey already covered by my season (or having an Underground barrier spurn my p-p, ticket), is any journey which requires both – what should be a cross platform change at Clapham Junction becomes a trek to the entrance to touch out, as there are no readers on platforms 11/12. Similarly there is no such thing for me as a through journey on Thameslink: I always have to break the journey at City TL to touch in (or out, as the case may be).

  120. Graham Feakins says:

    @Marek – Yes point taken but on the buses I use in South London, the Oyster reader is reasonably legible and is located something like as appears on this page:

    Again, if you think that you are running low, then surely it is sensible to make the extra effort to check as clearly you do. This seems to come down to getting TfL to provide more legible displays on their machines where they are not at present.

  121. marek says:

    @[email protected]

    Such evidence as there is for contactless payment cards is that it is not happening. Dave Birch, who is a global expert on this kind of thing, wrote up some tests he conducted when there was a similar scare at M&S a few months ago. Even in ideal circumstances with a card perfectly positioned, the maximum reading distance was 7 cm, and in any circumstances it as 1 to 2 cm. He wrote that up in a blog post – I am no expert, but the approach looked pretty rigorous.

    There might be something bizarre which would make the answer radically different for oyster cards and readers, but there is no obvious reason to assume that it would be.

  122. marek says:

    Sorry, keyboard glitch in last comment. “and in any circumstances it as 1 to 2 cm” should read “and in any other circumstances it was 1 to 2 cm”.

  123. Patrick Griffin says:

    I have just spent a few days in Istanbul where they have an electronic payment card which can be used on all modes of transport – the Istanbulkart. These can be topped up at any time of the day or night as machines are available at all tram stops and ferry terminals.
    Secondly, I frequently arrive at Paddington station at night after the Underground has closed. Every time there are a considerable number of tourists who have arrived on late flights at Heathrow. There is no means for them to purchase an Oyster, and whilst the bus stop in the dark recess of Praed Street has a ticket machine it of course will only accept coins, and most newly arrived tourists will only have notes. The other weekend the bus I caught had to wait 25 minutes at the stop to try and get paymetn from all the passengers.

  124. Milton Clevedon says:

    A couple of corroboratory points that occur to me:-

    @ timbeau
    11:21, 12 September 2013
    Yes, use Clapham Jn regularly and it is a pain not having click in on the footbridge off the longer distance point-to-pointery flows for our PAYG Oysters. Having asked staff about this several times , it is apparently precisely to reduce the risk of people boarding further up (or down) the SWT/Southern lines and only aiming to have a valid (and low cost) ticket once on the Overground… Clear case of regular season ticket market being penalised – not clever and down to SWT/Southern failings back on their systems. One for London TravelWatch and Passengers Forum, I think.

    @ marek
    10:30, 12 September 2013
    & @ Greg Tingey
    10:46, 12 September 2013
    My wife and I have seen Dyslexia and the hard-to-use station ticket machine top-up arrangements being a genuine problem, especially at National Rail stations. Cold-hearted RPIs might not understand, though more human ones do….
    Also sometimes low-waged people also have other problems, and can’t easy cope with (or be allowed) bank accounts, and therefore are excluded from auto-top if they are paid on day rates or weekly.

  125. marek says:


    I think the bus picture on the page you linked to illustrates my point very well. The display is positioned as far away from the passenger as it can get while still being attached to the machine, and to to look straight at it you need to be facing roughly towards the front corner of the bus, at a point where the natural body and eye position is to be turning towards the back of the bus. I am sure it works fine for those with good eyesight, but for those of us with less than perfect vision, it can be a real struggle, I don’t want to get this out of proportion, it’s certainly not the world’s worst problem, but I maintain it does show a poor quality of initial design – it would have been very easy to make it much better.

    And to amplify my own point at 11.37 on unintended card reading, it occurs to me that we all conduct a version of this experiment every time we use an oyster card: you bring your hand containing the card in the direction of the yellow pad until it bleeps. In my experience, that point is when contact is made, or possibly a few millimetres away – you certainly can’t wave the card in the general direction of the reader and expect anything to happen,

  126. Fandroid says:

    @Patrick Griffin. Late arrival anywhere can be a nightmare, especially on international trips. It would be fabulous to have machines issuing pre-loaded Oyster PAYG cards at the big London terminals. However, I wonder how many people arriving from abroad (or even from outside London) are aware of London’s night bus network? Your crowds at the Praed St bus-stop seem to have been amazingly well informed. Most would give in and get a taxi!

    I have been around in the southeast for many a decade and have never been on a London night bus.

  127. Greg Tingey says:

    Embezzlement is a sub-set of theft.
    Money had been loaded on to an Oyster for use (It’s a specialised form of a “Bill of Exchange” in electronic form, really) and money was extracted from it, for no return of goods or services.
    If it isn’t a form of theft, what is it?
    See, however ….

    It’s possible, of course, that this happened early on, & that the readers have been re-calibrated so as not to do it. I know that with my wife’s Oyster (or mine – not that I’ve used it for over a year) or my “freedom-crumblies-bleep” have to be put virtually touching any reader before said reader acknowledges it …

    Patrick Griffin
    Which suggests, immediately that there are certain locations, like the one you mentioned & Gatwick / Victoria / London Bridge / Liverpool St (& several others, I’m sure) where it should be firmly impressed on to TfL that they need to put in an Oyster-purchase machine that will take anything that is valid currency or a card as payment.
    Not directly relevant to the present discussion, perhaps, but it ought to be done …..

    Night buses are unutterably SLOW – even with no “normal” traffic to hinder their passage.

  128. marek says:


    It’s not theft because there is no intent. As s1 of the Theft Act puts it, rather elegantlty:

    A person is guilty of theft if he dishonestly appropriates property belonging to another with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it; and “thief” and “steal” shall be construed accordingly.

    The fact that nothing is removed physically wouldn’t stop it being theft – s4(1) specifies that

    “Property” includes money and all other property, real or personal, including things in action and other intangible property.

    But that’s irrelevant, because there isn’t any dishonesty.

  129. timbeau says:

    It would be theft if the person who is inadvertantly enriched by the error doesn’t take reasonable steps to return it when the error comes to their attention. If £100,000 mysteriously appeared in my current account, (or indeed on my Oyster) I am not entitled to spend it.

    Nevertheless, the problem with establishing theft by TfL would be proving they knew, or should have realised, that the payment was not intentional. (After all, they assume any “unresolved journey” on the tube is a maximum fare, not a minimum one) .
    An attentive bus driver might possibly notice two payments registering when only one person boarded, but the back office certainly can’t tell – even if a simultaneous bank card and Oyster payment could be identified as being the same user, it could be one person paying for himself and a friend.

  130. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Greg, Marek

    Indeed I stand corrected as regarding embezzlement is a subset of theft but I think Timbeau has neatly put the case why it isn’t theft in the first place. Can we just avoid using these emotive words when there is no evidence to support their use?

  131. JimS says:

    On the subject of checking Oyster balances, Tramlink readers are particularly bad. Even when new they were illegible in bright light, and when they have been heavily scratched by someone or something, you stand very little change of reading the display.
    Also, there were certainly some Network Rail/Tube barriers which were incapable of showing balances, possibly fixed now.
    An alternative tone might work for low-on-balance cards, expensive to program of course.

  132. Whiff says:

    John Bull in his introduction warns against relying too much on anecdotes; yes, the occasional tourist may run into problems but the fact that 76% of foreign visitors now use oyster cards suggests that TFL are doing a good job of getting the information out there. One thing they could consider, though, is selling oysters on incoming flights in the same way I believe they do on Eurostar

  133. John says:

    Bus drivers selling Oysters for £10 should be easily doable.

    Except you’re instantly back to accepting cash again, when the goal is explicitly to move away from that.

    I meant that bus drivers should only accept £10 notes (or 2 fivers) in exchange for an Oyster. If someone has a £20, then they have to buy 2 Oysters if they are the first person to buy that day. No faffing about with small coins.

    Once a week, someone drives round all the garages and replenishes them with new oysters and takes the notes away. I don’t know how they deal with the cash now, but if every driver needs to have enough coins to make 60p or £2.60 in change available, I expect there to be a lot of bulky coin bags in transit.

    Even if the cash fare was £3 the amount of coins would probably decrease by half.

  134. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – goodness me you could start an argument in an empty room!

    First off – I explained to you where the reluctance to adopt Oyster started from – the TOCs and ATOC. They did not want to be tied to a proprietary system. This is an entirely reasonable stance for them to take as private sector contractors. I am not the slightest bit surprised that DfT adopted the same stance and opted for an open standard. That just aligns to what most people consider as the most commercially advantageous and competitive option. How you then turn that into an evil plot by the DfT I just don’t know. Perhaps I should simply write a load of old codswallop rather than share my own direct experience? If you have substantive evidence to contradict what I wrote then please share it with us.

    Secondly I was discussing single fare pricing when I mentioned point to point pricing. The only person opening “that old can of worms” is you. You opened it the first time round IIRC. Have you had a response from TfL yet on the issue of Chingford Line season tickets? If not have you chased it or escalated it to London Travelwatch? If you haven’t written or escalated the matter then I detect just a bit of “false rage” being displayed for our benefit as observers.

    Thirdly I am a tad concerned by your remarks from observing the “lock down” revenue exercise. If people have legitimately entered the system but then have a negative PAYG balance (entirely possible in normal circumstances) then an exit gate would let them out. A revenue inspector should certainly not be detaining such a person or forcing them to pay up. They should be allowed to exit and then it is the passenger’s choice about how and when they restore their PAYG balance. This fate can befall people with valid season tickets on Oyster as a negative PAYG balance prevents further travel. If people had a negative balance before entering the system and just walked past a validator and were caught by the inspectors then fair enough. I appreciate you were only observing and probably not conversant with all the detail but I’d want inspectors doing the right thing by people who had not committed any wrongdoing.

    Finally – “night buses are unutterably slow” are they? Funny I find them a perfectly reasonable way to get into town and home again whenever I choose to use them. They are rarely stuck in traffic even in the heart of the West End and make decent progress. Even more bizarrely tens of thousands of people stuff themselves into jam packed full night buses every weekend. Presumably they’re just deluded or perhaps imagining they are really inside a train rather than a bus? The Night Bus network is a real success story.

    @ Marek – the irony with the current bus displays is that the trials of smartcards on buses employed much better “plug in” devices. I had a smartcard for the first trial on the 212 route and that used a big reader with a bright text display and a “red, yellow, green” display across the top. It was really easy to see (and hear) that your card had been accepted although there was no PAYG being used back then. That kit was from Finland IIRC. My memory of the Harrow Smartcard trial is a bit more rusty but there was only a plug in reader and any displayed info was on the ETM. I suspect the fate of displays was sealed way back then!

    If TfL do go down the cashless bus route then I expect the existing ETMs will be replaced with something akin to a simple card reader, display and possibly a print unit of some sort for inspector’s tickets. Hopefully there will be a much brighter and easier to read display on the new unit. Octopus card readers on HK buses have a nice clear display above the actual reader and give a coloured light / bleep confirmation.

  135. John Bull says:

    I meant that bus drivers should only accept £10 notes (or 2 fivers) in exchange for an Oyster. If someone has a £20, then they have to buy 2 Oysters if they are the first person to buy that day. No faffing about with small coins.

    Which is still handling cash.

    What I was trying to get across in the last comment (sorry if I didn’t explain it well) is that things like whether you give change, or the price point you charge, aren’t the biggest overall contributing factor to the cost of taking cash payments, or the biggest nuisance factor.

    It’s the insurance, the staff training, moving the money around, managing the risk and associated policies, the extra complexity cash adds to the operator contracts (and the increased price said operators charge for all the above). That’s where the overwhelming cost – both from a financial and resource management perspective – lies.

    Simplifying the payment structure doesn’t alleviate any of the above.

  136. MikeP says:

    @John – sorry, still won’t work. Cash handling is cash handling, whether it involves coin or not. Off the top of my head (and I’m no expert) there’s physical security required against external theft. There’s the charges your bank will make for receiving it. Then there’s auditing, to ensure no-one handling it along the way is diverting any of it. I’m sure there’s plenty of other costs I haven’t thought of.

  137. Steve L says:

    The biggest problem with going cashless is the person wanting to make a late night journey, finding that they don’t have enough cash on their Oyster card, and Oyster ticket stops (typically newsagents and convenience stores) are not open overnight. So we need Oyster ticket stops that are open overnight. So how about encouraging 24-hour petrol stations to become Oyster ticket stops. Similarly late night takeaways.

  138. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Steve L 1938 – while the idea sounds OK the problem is what range of services does the Ticket Stop offer? Just loading cash to a card is relatively straightforward but there is still all the accountancy and banking to TfL plus separate kit to deal with. The commission would probably have to be more than TfL is willing to pay. It gets worse when you move into Travelcards – newsagents can probably spare the time to learn about zones and validity but the average petrol station attendant? If being a Ticket Stop was remotely attractive to petrol stations and major supermarkets I’m sure we’d have seen them by now.

    The problem TfL has is that it has committed itself to a policy which really means it is going to be reluctant to invest in Oyster and any infrastructure to sell products on Oyster. It will maintain what it has but that will be scaled back over time as ticket offices close. Shifting people to CBCs means all you need is a network of fairly dumb card readers, a comms network and a big back office system to process the data and send demands for payment to the banks. The accountancy is also streamlined with less need for any station level accounting and much less at the centre. I hadn’t thought about that before but once you’ve shifted “sales” to a basis of claiming against bank accounts you’re in a very different place from today. It also means the idea of revenue targets for station managers goes out the window as they won’t be selling very much if a majority of passengers are on CBCs. We’re years away from this all being realised but if it works you can see the TOCs wanting to follow in short order if it allows them to dump a lot of their ticket offices and machines. I appreciate it possibly isn’t feasible for certain journey types / fares levels but urban areas should be fine.

    @ JB 1921 – do I detect some additional TfL blurb being quoted in respect of back office / process costs?

  139. John Bull says:

    Nope – just an understanding of how the business of cash transactions and payment handling works. Indeed what I’ve found interesting so far is that TfL haven’t seemed to make much of those costs.

  140. Greg Tingey says:

    I can understand the reluctance to be tied to a “Proprietary” system … but, once Oyster was shown to be a success, why the reluctance, thereafter?
    As for DafT, I think you may be reading more into my critique than I stated – understandable, but they don’t have a good track-record.
    I may have misinterpreted, from a several-month-old early-morning memory of my conversation with the ticket staff – my fault entirely, in that case.
    Night buses, however – I stand my ground. I frequently have to catch the first train or tube, but, to get to the sam place, 20 minutes earlier, using “Night-Bus” means an hour earlier start – so I don’t do it.
    Agree re. clear displays on readers, however.

    Mike P & JB
    Yes – hence my prediction that TfL will find that the advantages of dispensing with cash is so great that they will do it anyway (Dec 2014?) … As any Beer-festival treasurer or finance team will tell you … cash is a lot of work & effort!

    That’s what we should be afraid of.
    We need separate Oyster-or-equivalent cards, that are NOT directly linked to bank-accounts.
    It’s a matter of trust, eventually.

  141. Anonymous says:

    I can top my mobile phone up from an ATM. Why not also an oyster?

  142. Michael Jennings says:

    Many countries – often those in which many people do not have bank accounts – have multi-function payment machines in many locations. These are used to do such things as pay your electricity and all other kinds of bill, as well as top up Oyster equivalents, mobile phone accounts and the like. They take cash – often large amounts of it – and so have to be in relatively secure locations and emptied regularly. We don’t have those here, as we do have bank accounts and therefore other means of paying for our electricity.

    However, in places where lots of organisations are looking for a solution to this problem and can share it once they have found it, they do seem to have a solution.

    I suspect the reason why you can’t top up your Oyster at an ATM is that banks see Oyster as competition to things that they would like to supply their own solutions to. There is no obvious technical reason against it that I can see.

  143. timbeau says:

    Anon 0952

    To top up the Mobile phone at an ATM, you need to have a bank card – presumably you would also need a bank card to top up the Oyster. If you’ve got a bank card, you can use that on the bus anyway. If you haven’t got a bank card, you can’t top up your Oyster. And if you haven’t got an Oyster, you can’t top it up.

    What is someone to do if they lose their wallet/handbag, or it is stolen., with all their bank cards and Oyster? All they have left is the loose change in their pockets, or perhaps a friend, or Good Samaritan, (or responsible adult – this could be a child we are talking about) has given them a fiver to get them home.

    If buses are cashless, they might as well have been given a street map of Ulan Bator.

  144. Anonymous says:


    Yes and no. Having the ability to top up an oyster from an ATM means that you can a) keep travel separate from general money. b) have huge availability of oyster top up (although getting the credit onto the card is a problem) c) accommodates those who do not have contactless cards.

    Children can be sent out with a “Get you home” oyster not a “Get you home” fiver. It is far less likely to be used for something other than its purpose than the cash alternative.

    The stolen handbag case is something that you handle with the police, not TfL. Also can you give me a number of cases where this has been relevant, is it actually a significant number per year?

    Friends can lend you a PAYG oyster or just pay on their card. The number of ways a friend can pay for you hasn’t reduced, merely changed – and been made cheaper for them as well.

  145. AlisonW says:

    one of the massive benefits (to me, anyway) of the now-ended book of six bus tickets was that I could keep a couple of them tucked in my footwear when I went clubbing, thus ensuring I could always get home.

    Now I just swipe my (disabled freedom) oyster and hope I never lose it.

  146. Greg Tingey says:

    From the just-available latest issue of “Rail”
    { With comments in {Brackets}}

    1] Oyster-only for seven-day trips

    Paper travelcards for periods of over 7 days or longer {grammar?) will no longer be sold by Overground as TfL moves further towards encouraging Oyster cards for all journeys on its system. TfL {$idiot-title} director Shashi Verma said Oyster was already: “The ticket of choice” for more than 85% of its customers.

    2] TfL ticketing bidders shortlisted
    Three bidders have been shortlisted for ticketing & fare-collection services across the TfL network, following a formal notice in the journal of the EU.
    Cubic transportation systems, LG CNS Co CNF { You what? You who?} & Scheidt & Bachmann have been short-listed for the new Electra contract, which will begin in August 2015, when the current TfL ticketing system expires.
    The winning bidder will be responsible for providing & maintaining both front & back-office revenue-collection systems for TfL services at 400 LUL, DLR & LO stations, 250 National Rail stations & an off-system retail network of some 4000 Oyster agents.
    TfL Customer Experience Head of Business Development { WHERE do they get these Toytown/Ruritanian titles FROM? } Matthew Hudson said: “One of the key things we will be looking for from the successful bidder is a contract that delivers the high quality of service & value for money that our customers demand.”
    The Electra contract term is for seven years, with an early-exit option at 5 years, & extension options of up to 3 years.


    Interesting, no?

  147. Castlebar says:

    @ Greg T

    TfL Customer Experience Head of Business Development { WHERE do they get these Toytown/Ruritanian titles FROM? }

    Remember the old saying “The longer the title, the less important is the job”

  148. Malcolm says:

    Anonymous said “Friends can lend you a PAYG oyster or just pay on their card. “

    They may be able to lend you one, if it so happens that they’re not about to need it themselves. But as I understand it, an Oyster (or indeed a bank card termporarily pretending to be an Oyster) cannot be used by two people simultaneously. So they can only “pay on their card” if they have another form of ticket for themselves – and why would they do that?

    Possibly the friend could Oysterise you onto a bus, and then step smartly off the platform. But the driver should probably not allow this – because in the event of an inspector getting on, you and the driver will both be in trouble if you cannot produce a swiped-on-this-bus Oyster on demand.

    Or have I misunderstood something?

  149. ChrisMitch says:

    There are some incredibly complex workarounds being proposed here to replace simple cash transactions. This is what cash is FOR. Why invent a whole new technologically complex solution which still will not work for many of the current cash ticket payers? OK, so cash transactions on the bus are a very small proportion of total fare revenue, but they are an important fallback.

  150. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Surely the reason why you cannot top an Oyster at an ATM but can do so with a mobile is that the mobile phone communicates with its network whenever its switched on *and* that the account value is held centrally not on the phone itself. Oyster does NOT communicate with a central system while it is sat in your pocket *and* the value of any credit is held on the card. Bus readers and gates / validators interpret the data on the card and then work out what charge is to made against the card and then *writes* updated data, including the balance, to the Oyster Card. The central system catches up overnight when it receives the data from all the devices and then brings itself into alignment with the card.

    A mobile phone account is a completely different beast to an Oyster card.

  151. timbeau says:

    “Shashi Verma said Oyster was already: “The ticket of choice” for more than 85% of its customers.”
    So 1 in 7 customers still prefer something else.

    “Anonymous said “Friends can lend you a PAYG oyster or just pay on their card. “
    They may be able to lend you one, if it so happens that they’re not about to need it themselves.”

    Not if it’s got a Travelcard loaded on it.

    Interesting question – as the daily cap is essentially a travelcard, can I lend my Oyster to a friend if I’ve already reached the cap?

  152. Fandroid says:

    What the world needs is a contactless card that anyone can buy (with cash if necessary) at convenient locations. As those cards become more universal for those with bank accounts, I suspect that the dreaded market will recognise a need for pre-loaded cards and provide ways of getting them (at a price).

    This is a London site but it’s worth reminding the commentariat that the actual existence of a comprehensive all-night bus service is a privilege enjoyed by Londoners. There are other all-night bus services in the UK but for many of us the only late night options (from 9pm in some places) are taxis or walking.

  153. Fandroid says:

    One of the Anonymi suggested selling Oyster cards on incoming planes. Not a bad idea, but they really have little time and if they can, they try to sell high-end trinkets, not boringly practical tickets for onward travel. Heathrow just leaves it to the Tube stations to sell Oystery things and on Heathrow Express makes just about zero effort to even acknowledge the existence of onward travel modes other than taxis. I feel a Greg moment coming on here – Heathrow’s efforts to pretend that HeX isn’t a railway get up my nose to an almost irrational extent. My simple mind tells me that a railway-style ticket machine selling Travelcards (as well as tickets to the whole of GB) should be an essential feature of all of their Arrivals areas.

    As an afterthought, there should be no reason why Oystercards cannot be sold on Gatex (perhaps they are?)

  154. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm 1658 – you understand correctly. One Oyster card per person – you can’t pay for two people with one card. The same applies with CBCs on buses too. If you only have PAYG on your Oyster card and no discount entitlement set on the card then it is transferable. I recently saw what looked like your query about someone zapping an Oyster card for someone on board the bus and then getting off with the card! This happened after the first person’s card didn’t work and neither did umpteen other cards. The person with the valid card got on at the next hail and ride point along the route! I was a tad bemused as to what would happen if a revenue check did take place.

    @ Timbeau – if the card balance has been capped earlier in the day then there is nothing to stop a normal, non discounted PAYG Oyster being used by someone else later in the day who travels for free – provided their travels are on the modes and in the same zones as earlier in the day. If the card had been capped as Z14 ODTC but the second user went into Zone 5 or further then there would be a further payment due for the higher cap assuming the fares incurred exceeded the difference between the two caps.

  155. Graham Feakins says:

    Not sure whether this might help condense the Oyster card debate but this is what TfL has to say, including reference to top-ups:

    Which? has produced this video of ticket machine ‘nightmares’, albeit concentrated on railways rather than buses:

    @ Greg – I feel that ‘Rail’ needs explain to amplify its report – it’s bad enough to understand even without your interjections!

    London Transport used to have a highly systemised arrangement to handle cash fare receipts at their bus garages and train depots. I suspect that similar is still used today, albeit condensed as a result of the reduction in the use of cash. Remember that much coinage is not actually banked but ‘recycled’ to meet the needs of change in machines where notes are offered. Over in Tokyo, vast amounts of coinage are stilled handled by the subways and local railways – with extremely swift machines (once the right button is pressed!) to accept small change up to 50+ dropped (not simply inserted into a restrictive slot) at a time and return any balance equally as swiftly. Any return cash simply drops in one go to the collecting tray. In other words, you can throw any combination of coins at the machine and within moments the ticket and change is sorted and issued.

    Beyond that, I can only add that I am one of those who have continually held for more than 35 years either an annual season ticket for BR(S) with London Underground add-on or latterly an annual London Travelcard for the zones required (including bus).

    But I will support Walthamstow Writer and wonder where Greg has used night buses because I often use them on the routes from Central London to a significant distance South of the River. The N68 and the N3 tend to be the swiftest buses of the ‘day’, despite being packed! They simply race through the roads almost free of other traffic and it is not unknown for them not to stop at many what used to be known as “Compulsory Stops” at four to six at a time if nobody wishes to alight. Just like the all-nighter trams along the same roads of yesteryear, really.

  156. Anon5 says:

    I keep my Oyster card in my wallet with my bank card and bank notes. On a daily basis I pay for most things on card, including small purchases using wave and pay at Pret, Teso and M&S. I sometimes have loose change in my pocket or bag but not always. My phone is usually in my other pocket or hand.

    I use banking apps to keep a daily check of my accounts and can spot fraudulent transactions far quicker than waiting for the monthly statement to arrive.

    If I lose my wallet today I’m no less vulnerable than I will be when TfL stops accepting cash on the buses. If I leave a club in the early hours and find my wallet stolen my options are to visit the police station, call someone and ask them to pay for a cab at destination, walk or plead with a night bus driver.

    If anything the cashless policy is more likely to get me a free ride home because TfL will be so wary of negative publicity. They will look at how many night bus passengers currently use season tickets, season tickets loaded on to Oyster and pay as you go.

    They will factor in a proportion of genuine cases and a proportion of blaggers. If word gets out that lots of people are blagging they’ll put TfL funded police officers and PCSOs on a few buses who will be on hand to ‘help’ victims of crime report the incident there and then. This will raise enough publicity to make blaggers think twice about misreporting.

    On the issue of TfL wanting to wash their hand of the Oyster responsibility, it’s a shame it couldn’t have moved under an umbrella of responsibility that included the DfT and ATOC or something similar. A proven scheme that could roll out nationwide.

    Plenty of airlines arriving at Gatwick and Stansted sell train tickets for onward travel. What’s to stop those arriving at Heathrow selling Oyster. Most in-flight magazines include onward travel information. Guide books to London include information on Oyster etc just as English language guides to cities overseas always include a local transport section.

    Copehagen airport includes a ticket machine in the arrivals hall for trains from the airport, as well as at the airport station. It shouldn’t be difficult for something similar here.

    But then how many travellers each night catch a night bus from Heathrow? I’d suggest most arriving at that time of night will catch a cab. There might be airport workers who catch the bus at that time but they’d be aware of the cashless policy.

  157. Fred says:

    @ChrisMitch. Lots of effort is going into replacing cash with electronics, to enable “the prevention and detection of crime”. Once everything is recorded, and no-one is anonymous that changes the rules quite dramatically.

  158. Fandroid says:

    It might interest commenters to hear that nearly all German airports only have ticket machines in their train stations (not in Arrivals). The only exceptions I can think of are Berlin Tegel which doesn’t have a station but does have bus/rail ticket machines just outside Arrivals, and Dusseldorf which has inscrutable local transport ticket machines at its Skytrain stations. But I have yet to come across any wholly cashless ticketing in Germany. Some towns however do have Smartcard readers on their buses.

  159. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Fandroid – I thought DB were trialling a form of mobile phone based ticketing with “touch in” and “touch out” pads near platforms. A check of the DB website shows something called Touch and Travel where your smartphone registers your start position and you touch out on exit. There are also MMS tickets available for use on mobile phones. There has to be a link to an account registered with DB and if you have purchased any DB discount rail card then the discount is applied to any travel undertaken on these alternative ticketing technologies. It also seems that if you travel long distance with DB using a railcard that you can also get free local public transport usage in several big German cities. All looks pretty clever to me.

  160. ChrisMitch says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that everything being recorded and no-one being anonymous is a slightly over-bearing reaction to crime reduction?

  161. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – yes, and a By Your Lady nuisance it is, too. I recently travelled from a rural station in Bavaria to Muenchen and the only way to buy a ticket was from a machine that only accepted coin. As the fare was about 40 Euro, there weren’t many takers – but a very long queue… So, we all just boarded the train, which was so full that the guards couldn’t pass through to collect any fares, so….

  162. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Fandroid – Munich airport has both a DB desk and ticket machines for local travel in both Arrivals halls as well as in the railway station itself.

    @ Walthamstow Writer – You don’t need a DB railcard if you simply want to use the local transport at your destination for an hour after your arrival if you have booked on a long-distance train.

    I mentioned before that many hotels in Germany provide passes for all local travel for the duration of your stay and even a print-out from an online hotel booking will suffice before you arrive at the hotel!

    An example of extended availability which can be obtained in Germany is here:

    I think what you have in mind with mobile phone ticketing is here:

    I saw that used extensively in the Rhein/Ruhr last month.

  163. Overground Commuter says:

    @steve @other paul

    My account with a RBS branded bank is a basic current account. Note the word Basic. Many people who bank with the major high street banks are only issued with a standard Visa Debit card with chip and pin to those on low incomes who the bank can’t make money out of overdrafts and loans, so issuing CPC at this stage isn’t going to happen.

    I can’t see the Credit Unions who deal with the poorest people having the revenue to finance CPC for their clients either, while a Visa Debit chip and pin is adequate for their needs.

    For those on benefits or low paid work, the ability to pay with Oyster PAYG or cash is a lifeline.

  164. IslandDweller says:

    @Fandroid “As an afterthought, there should be no reason why Oystercards cannot be sold on Gatex ”
    Who’s going to sell them? Southern trains with ‘express’ branding stuck on the side are just ordinary commuter type trains now, albeit with a painful price trap. Are you suggesting the Southern guard becomes a ticket sales agent for tfl?

  165. IslandDweller says:

    To be deliberately provocative (and a bit selfish) I can’t wait for cash tickets to be abolished. Buses in London are so much better than elsewhere in the UK, partly because boarding/offloading at each stop is remarkably quick. On my travels yesterday (I was on the buses a lot yesterday) I saw two passengers pay cash, and in both cases the time penalty is massively disproportionate. Each cash transaction took over two minutes, asking what the fare is? Fiddling with coins. Printing a ticket.
    I know this sounds harsh, but is it appropriate to retain a costly and very slow payment method which 99% of bus users don’t use?

  166. Malcolm says:

    @IslandDweller: If 99% do not use it, then the overall time penalty is correspondingly small. (Could still be annoying to other passengers with a train to catch, I suppose).

  167. timbeau says:

    @Island Dweller

    To many of that 1%, it is an essential service: far more essential than for the majority who can afford taxis, bicycles, private cars, or can walk.

    If a Job Centre expects someone to take up a job a bus journey away from home, you must make it possible for them to get there to start work.

  168. IslandDweller says:

    Yes, I was deliberately provocative about ‘abandoning’ the 1%. But I’d much effort was put into enabling that 1% to gain an alternative enablement to travel – that didn’t cause a bus to going to a halt for minutes at a time.
    This idea has a double benefit – because some of those paying cash now are those with least money, and that can’t be fair.

  169. Belsize Parker says:

    It’s interesting that nobody has mentioned the fact that on-street parking appears to have become cashless-by-stealth in large areas of North London, courtesy of our local councils blocking up the coin (and even credit-card) slots on their kerbside machines. Yesterday (on a rare excursion by car to Islington) I had to resort to ‘pay by phone’, since the payment machine I used on previous occasions had been officially disabled. Luckily, I had a working mobile phone, linked to a valid credit card, with me, but I paid an additional 20p, on top of £2.40 for 30 minutes, for the ‘service’. I was, to be fair, offered the option of going to a convenience store, at a location I did not recognise (which turned out to be around 600 yards away), where I would, apparently, have been able to conduct my parking transaction in cash, though how this would have prevented my car from being ticketed in the intervening period eludes me. I now notice that the kerbside machines in Hampstead (Camden borough) have been covered over as part of an ‘experiment’ in cashless parking. Clearly, if anyone is going to be stupid/antisocial enough to want to park on the street away from home, he/she will need to possess a payment card and carry a functioning mobile phone, because London’s councils are getting out of the business of maintaing kerbside payment machines altogether (even card-based ones, so no Hong-Kong-style paying with Octopus/Oyster). What was once a wholly coin-based transaction is clearly in the process of becoming wholly (smart-) phone-based, and everyone (myself included) is just going to have to live with it. I mention all this by way of contrast with TfL, which is at least going through the motions of consulting those concerned, will doubtless publicise the change widely when it comes in and is even aware of the ‘lost my credit card late at night’ and the ‘just-arrived tourist’ problems. No such courtesy has been extended to London’s car-users (nor has anybody, to my knowledge, kicked up much of a fuss). My confident bet therefore is that cash-handing on London’s buses will be a thing of the past well before the next general election and we’ll all just have to cope as best we can.

  170. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Belsize Parker – I suspect you are correct that buses will go cashless regardless of the consultation. It would only be stopped if there were some very influential stakeholders who said “no”. My experience of other TfL consultations is not positive when it comes to TfL listening to the “little people” and their ideas.

    I suspect the comparison with car parking is not quite a direct one. Motorists probably view car parking charges as a form of taxation rather than a charge for a service. There are also dire consequences (fines, clamping, tow aways) for not complying with the rules so they will do whatever is necessary to comply with whatever payment processes exist. I don’t think we’re quite at the point of TfL clamping bus passengers to bus stops if they can’t proffer an Oyster or bank card. 😉 I believe TfL have some form of statutory duty to consult on significant changes to passenger facilities but councils (or more accurately councillors) run the more direct risk of being voted out of office if they do things the public dislike.

  171. timbeau says:

    “councillors run the more direct risk of being voted out of office if they do things the public dislike”
    TfL is responsible to the mayor and, ultimately, the London Assembly, so perhaps any concerns should be addressed to your local MLA, rather than bothering with submitting obesrvations to TfL’s figleaf of a “consultation”.

    In my experience, MLAs, unlike TfL, are quite responsive to well-reasoned arguments.

    TfL’s “consultation ” on Crossrail 2 was a particaularly egregious example – not quite at the “which of your arms would you like us to cut off” level, but one “option” was obviously a straw man to persuade everyone to choose the other one , and they both had some very odd features in common (e.g the Tooting loop). I would love to quiz them on the thinking behind these, but the “consultation” is strictly one way.

  172. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I have had contact with 2 or 3 Assembly Members, including my local one, and I agree with you that they are generally keen to listen to what is being said and they respond quickly (when not relying on responses from others!). I did send in a submission to the Bus Services Investigation because I felt it would be read and considered. I also E Mailed Val Shawcross subsequently with one final remark having watched TfL reps on a webcast. She replied with an hour or so which I felt was pretty impressive given the huge volume of issues Assembly Members deal with.

    I didn’t bother with the Crossrail 2 consultation as I am far from convinced by either option. There was no point in me trying to optioneer alternatives or variants that TfL would pay no attention to. I am beginning to tire of such vastly expensive schemes anyway. There is so much else that needs sorting that can be done without such grandiose projects – we need boring but decent investment projects to raise quality across the board but I digress!

  173. Castlebar says:

    @ W Writer

    You have touched on a very interesting legal point

    Does TfL inherit from its predecessors, an inherent liability to convey a passenger from point A to point B upon legal tender as full payment being proffered for the journey to be undertaken? Surely legal powers would be needed to totally abolish cash fares, and if so, which political party could hope to be re-elected for pushing for such a measure to become law?

    Once, I had a car stolen. I had a £5 note and that was sufficient to get two people all the way home via a single bus journey on the 267. What should we have done if the driver had said, “Sorry mate, I can no longer accept cash for your two, £2 bus fares” ?

  174. Slugabed says:

    Castlebar 16/09 15:58
    Quote: which political party could hope to be re-elected for pushing for such a measure to become law?
    The answer is any one of them.Such a law could be passed through “under the radar” with no fuss whatsoever.
    Rather like the law to re-introduce National Service which is currently plodding through Parliament to the deafening silence of the “media”…..

  175. Anonymous says:

    @ Belsize Parker
    “nor has anybody, to my knowledge, kicked up much of a fuss”
    You are clearly unaware of the revolt in Barnet following abolition of cash payments for on street car parking, as well as in car parks. This resulted in many high street shops having to cease trading as their customers would not or could not pay by phone. The net result was the “Anyone But Coleman” campaign in the GLA elections. Brian Coleman, who introduced the scheme, lost his GLA seat over this.
    Bank debit card payment discriminates against the poorest segment of society. Did you know that some prepaid debit cards have a transaction charge in excess of £1?

  176. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Coleman lost his seat because he was convicted of assaulting someone who saw him illegally parking his car (on a scheme he introduced) and tried to take pictures as evidence.

    Not quite as described.

  177. Graham H says:

    @WW, Castlebar, Slugabed – I doubt if LRT had any statutory duty (as opposed to any Common Law duty) to convey passengers for a tendered fare. There was certainly nothing in the start up legislation. Their statutory duty was to provide or secure the provision of services. TfL (under the Greater London Act) had its transport duties re-enacted anew and again, I can’t see any reference to giving them a statutory duty to convey, merely the duty to provide services.

    @Castlebar – if I’d been in that desperate straits, I’d have given the driver the fiver and told him to keep the change. [Once one of my colleagues coming out of 2 Marsham Street late at night and looking for a cab to Waterloo, failed to see one; however, an empty 507 appeared immediately. “How much to go straight to Waterloo? – £5 – Done …” ][It’s not, of course, that civil servants were overpaid, merely that the chap was a carefree bachelor on a senior salary…].

  178. Slugabed says:

    Graham H 16/9 17:08
    … LRT could provide the services without the bothersome rigmarole of conveying passengers and remain within their statutory obligations?
    Has anyone here read “A Scheme For Full Employment” by Magnus Mills (incidentally,but not co-incidentally an ex London bus-driver)

  179. Graham H says:

    @slugabed – yes, in that there was no duty to fill the services provided – that was the terrible change made at Ferdinand Mount’s suggestion to No 10 and eagerly seized upon by N Ridley. Previously, there had been a duty to provide services that met the needs of passengers. Not any more… Indeed, as critics at the time noted, LRT(A) didn’t have to provide/secure many services at all to comply with its statutory duty.

  180. Greg Tingey says:

    Excuse the snark, but of course TfL are bad at listening to the “little people” – they’ve been deafened by all the un-necessary tube announcements!
    / snark over …
    But, no – it’s virtually certain that they will go cashless – probably when the new ticket-franchise is enacted – see my post from “Rail” earlier …

    GH & Slugabed
    I find that absence of statutory duty etc to be very worrying as for Ridley, well, this IS a “family publication” isn’t it?

  181. timbeau says:

    The provision of services people can’t use: or don’t need – like the introduction of late-night operation on the W&C line from today?

  182. The other Paul says:


    The provision of services people can’t use: or don’t need – like the introduction of late-night operation on the W&C line from today?

    What’s the evidence behind that sweeping statement? From what I’ve seen of late, the alternative routes (Northern, Jubilee) are pretty busy late at night as are a lot of trains leaving Waterloo. I reckon there’s plenty of pent-up demand for the later evening services on the W&C, and I personally know a few people who will be making use of them.

  183. timbeau says:

    @What’s the evidence behind that sweeping statement?

    I could be wrong, but I doubt that, with a ten minute frequency, average journey times will be any quicker than going via London Bridge. The Drain is essential to relieve congestion in the peaks, but I wouldn’t trust the “one train in steam” late evening service to get me to my last train home from Waterloo in time.

    If the money was available to add the evening service, I can think of many far better uses for it – later services on the Overground perhaps? Countdown at a few more bus stops?

  184. AlisonW says:

    @Graham H
    Actually, they didn’t always need paying. One Sunday late evening I’d been waiting a while at Barnes (Richmond Rd/Roehampton La) to get a bus to Euston to catch my last train. A 73 came along (ah for the days of long routes!) and as we pulled away from the stop I mentioned to the conductor that I was probably going to miss my train. So he knocked on the glass to the driver (did I say I miss routemasters?) and told him to ‘move it’.

    I think we picked up other passengers twice, we certainly passed a few stops where people were waiting though.

    We arrived at Euston 14 minutes after I got on.

  185. Graham Feakins says:

    @ timbeau – the W&C long ran until 10pm anyway Mons-Sats. From what I have seen recently of the City at late night time, a service until just after midnight will be just as welcome as on all other tube services. It might also relieve pressure at London Bridge and make it easier to reach Waterloo when the main line to Waterloo East/from Charing Cross won’t stop at London Bridge for 18 months during the Thameslink work.

    Moreover, the late night W&C services run every 6 minutes, not every 10 and the complete journey is timed at a mere three minutes. You can’t match that by travelling via London Bridge.

  186. MikeP says:

    @Slugabed – yes, I finally noticed that one a day or so ago. I guess everyone has the expectation of the Standard Outcome of a Private Member’s bill. Though the military, who usually shout very loudly about how a load of unwilling surly teens would screw up their modern fighting ability, do seem to have been unusually quiet as well. Probably scared of another few billion being knocked off their budget as revenge if they pop above the parapet.

  187. timbeau says:

    “We arrived at Euston 14 minutes after I got on”

    That’s about nine miles, so an average of 39 mph. Good thing there were no inspectors, or police, about. (and I hope, for the sake of the passengers you doidn’t stop for, that it wasn’t the last bus)

    “Moreover, the late night W&C services run every 6 minutes, ”
    Every ten minutes after 23:30

    Remembering that the Travelator adds a couple of minutes, and then compare that with the ten minute end-to-end journey by Northern and Jubilee, or twelve minutes by bus (despite the unnecessarily circuitous route the buses take
    (times according to Journey planner)

  188. Greg Tingey says:

    “The City” is a lot more active later at night than it used to be & even some things open on SUNDAYS, now …
    so, probably opening the Drain for longer periods is a very good idea.
    Even I, who usually go WC Vauxhall or WC Oxford Circ Waterloo would find it useful upon occasion ….

  189. timbeau says:

    Translation of “I usually go WC Vauxhall ”

    worked it out in the end – “WC” is not Wembley Central or White City or even Waterloo & City, but Walthamstow Central:

  190. Fandroid says:

    Thanks timbeau ! I too was struggling with those WCs.

    It’s not unheard of for me to arrive at Liverpool Street on a Saturday evening and want to get to Waterloo. As I don’t have a journey planner in my head and can’t be bothered to fire up my Smartphone, I just count stations (double for each change) as a proxy for journey times. So Liverpool Street to Waterloo via Bank and London Bridge is 6 stations, via Bank and the W&C it would be 3 stations!

  191. Greg Tingey says:


    The compiler removed my arrow / dash / arrow markers between the stations – it displayed correctly on “preview”
    Of cf course, I’m traelling in the opposite direction to fandroid, but the idea still counts, as well as the calculation: “Is the Drain open / not/ maybe?”

  192. Steve says:

    timbeau @19:35

    I disagree. It’s a great and long overdue development. I shall find it extremely useful, as will all the thousands of others who will undoubtedly use it.

  193. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H / Castlebar – can I just clarify that I made no remark about TfL having a duty to convey anyone or to accept cash. I am sorry if I was unclear. I thought they had a duty to *consult* about changes to facilities as all local authorities do. Some Councils have been taken to court for failing to consult on things like significant changes to supported bus services. I believe Cambridgeshire County Council came a serious cropper on this issue. I would expect TfL have the freedom to change how people pay for services they provide. As removing cash acceptance on buses is a high profile issue then it is entirely sensible that TfL consults the public and stakeholders about it.

  194. timbeau says:

    “I count stations (double for each change) as a proxy for journey times”

    So do I – with the proviso that I count a phantom station for those I know are a long way apart – e.g Farringdon – Kings Cross, and indeed Bank – Waterloo.

    If I was going from SWT to Anglia I would look at Jubilee (Waterloo to Stratford) or Victoria (Vauxhall to Tottenham Hale) rather than brave the labyrinth at Bank

  195. Greg Tingey says:

    Ah, but timbeau, if you wanted the ex-Northern & Eastern Raliway lines, or the GE later build to Enfield Town, then going to Stratford is useless – & not all long-distance trains call at Statford, either. If, of course, you are on a purely suburban journey at the S end, then Victoria line Vauxhall – Tottie Hale is an option – hence the insane numbers joining / alighting at that station.

    Coming back to the actual subject……
    What are TfL ging to do about the ( I would guess ) 0.1% of travellers who really NEED transport, don’t have money & want home/help?
    And what are they going to do about making Oyster really easily available for visitors (Pace the sirport sub-thread) and getting secure payment for same?

  196. Anonymous says:

    “If, of course, you are on a purely suburban journey at the S end, then an option is Victoria line Vauxhall – Tottie Hale”
    …………….or Seven Sisters or Walthamstow, depending on your ex N&E branch of choice.

    And if you don’t call at Vauxhall, then Clapham Junction/Victoria, or Waterloo/Oxford Circus are both quicker than going via Liverpool Street.

  197. Fandroid says:

    My particular journey is from Greg’s WC (!) to catch a long distance train at Waterloo, when the Victoria Line is closed. Not very common these days, I admit; so Stratford, Seven Sisters, Tottie Hale, Vauxhall and Clapham don’t help in those circumstances.

  198. Graham Feakins says:

    Waterloo & City – It must also be useful for those transferring between Bank (W&C) and the Central Line, particularly the Eastern Section.; I can’t be the only one who often use(d) the W&C from e.g. Leyton to Waterloo via Bank following a night out in East London. Remember that the W&C terminates just below the Waterloo main line concourse and thus some valuable seconds can be saved there as compared with travel via the Northern and Jubilee Lines.

    Oh, and Greg T, one can tire of asking but do please try to use full and proper names. It might be a short cut or laziness on your behalf but not many are going to be like timbeau and even attempt to interpret what you are saying! “WC” in normal usage means something totally different – and here I might add that even in South London public conveniences were identified more fully on signposts, even down to details like “Men’s Urinal” as was to be found at the foot of Dog Kennel Hill! No reader of this site unfamiliar with the area is even going to understand readily “Tottie Hale” and thus you possibly exclude many in Greater London, let alone far beyond. If you want us to understand what you compose, then kindly express yourself using comprehensible language and names; otherwise, so far as many readers are concerned, you are wasting your time. Personally, I find it difficult to comprehend why you rarely take these requests on board and thus continue to exasperate. In my view, the Moderators have been more than patient.

  199. Greg Tingey says:

    If you aren’t careful, Graham, I’ll go over to using the NR 3-letter acronyms for stations, since that IS offical usage!
    In the context of what we were discussing, “Tottie Hale” was obvious, but “WC” should have been clearer, but, as mentioned before, the compiler excised the arrows, removing the obvious meaning & confusing everyone (including me) – one must remember that just becsue it looks ok in preview, it doesn’t always come out like that – the other one is that “strikethrough” doesn’t work & one has to use “del” instead.
    Niggles with computers ….

  200. John Bull says:

    Quick Note: The Use of Acronyms and Abbreviations

    I think Graham’s point has merit – this is something I’ve been thinking about for sometime (in terms of how we approach acronyms in comments). Station codes and suchlike are all well and good but not everyone is fluent in them.

    I think, for now, people should assume that the guidelines are the same as that which LR posters themselves have to follow. Which is:

    1) Any acronym or abbreviation already used in the article is fair game. As are the likes of DfT, TfL and GLA – i.e. “top-level” government or national bodies where an expectation of familiarity is fair. Similarly tph (“trains per hour”) and things like mph etc. are fair.

    2) Any other acronym or abbrieviation should be preceded by at least one instance of it being spelt out in full. So things such as station codes are acceptable, as long as the first time they are used is something like:

    “At Chingford (CHI) there are already four trains an hour. If you wanted to increase the service between here and Liverpool Street (LIV) then you could do CHI – LIV…”

    Personal Note: I’d rather people didn’t use station codes – my own opinion is that, generally speaking, if your comment is long enough that it needs them then you may want to think about whether it’s too long to begin with. Also, I hate comments that read like they’re a list of moves in a Diplomacy Game (A CHI – Liv, F Bet – PAD). I appreciate that others find them useful though.

    Obviously, as usual, the above should be treated as a general guideline, and we reserve the right to completely and arbitrarily ignore our own guidelines when moderating comments. Such is life.

  201. Anonymous says:

    For completeness on the one occasion where this might somehow be on-topic:

    Connoisseurs of TLAs may enjoy noting that there are eleven three-letter codes which are both standard Diplomacy abbreviations and London Underground station codes. (I have not yet considered other station codes.)
    BAL (Balham / Baltic Sea)
    BAR (Barbican / Barents Sea)
    BER (Bermondsey / Berlin)
    BUR (Burgundy / Burnt Oak)
    HOL (Holland / Holborn)
    LON (London / London Bridge)
    MAR (Marseilles / Marble Arch)
    PIC (Picardy / Piccadilly Circus)
    RUM (Romania / Ruislip Manor)
    STP (St. Petersburg / St. Paul’s)
    WAL (Wales / Walthamstow Central)

    The only legal Diplomacy move I’ve yet found that can be performed on a single LU line is A Mar – Hol and even that relies on having five fleets in place to perform the convoy.

  202. mdb says:

    Perhaps the site could offer a mouseover/tooltip of sorts on three letter acronyms so that those who don’t recognise them can easily see what they are? I understand that might contradict usability however.

  203. 1956 says:

    On Station codes – I paid good money to get multi-channel TV including CNN – which I thought was a 24/7 channel all about Canonbury. Imagine my disappointment when it was just an American News Channel.

  204. Anonymous says:

    I have come late to this subject and the comment thread is extremely long, so I apologise if my suggestion has already been aired. I have recently started using Oyster and have yet to get to grips with it. One thing that I would like to see is being able to load credit direct to your PHONE and using it to pay for your journeys. The software should also allow you to keep a track of your travel and remaining credit. Just a thought.

  205. Kit Green says:

    I have never understood the desire to hold financial transactions in some app on a phone. I can only think off all eggs in one basket. That is why my phone, Oyster, cash and bank cards all live in separate pockets.

  206. StephenC says:

    I was in San Francisco recently, and they have cash fares on buses as well as an Oyster like system. The cash had to be inserted into a basic machine in front of the driver, so the driver didn’t have to manage anything. Exact fare only. This solution seemed very effective and simple, and would reduce the manual cash handling as it could easily be centralised.

  207. Fandroid says:

    @StephenC. You don’t have to travel as far as San Francisco to see exactly the same system in use. Just go to Reading where the buses have had an exact fare rule and a transparent hopper in front of the driver for decades. In recent years an itso smartcard reader has been added. I suspect that there is still a big overhead in handling the cash at the depot. I read somewhere that Reading has the highest use of the ‘Plusbus’ add-on to train-tickets in the UK. London’s equivalent is of course the paper Travelcard which incorporates a return journey in from outside the TfL area.

  208. timbeau says:

    Exact fare is fine, as long as they are not profiteering by charging fares for silly amounts for which people are unlikely to have the right money, resulting in having to overpay. Reading’s website shows the standard fares as £1.80 single and £3.40, which qualify as “silly” by that definition – the single fare rquires at least four coins all different. The return also requires at least four coins, but more usually five, as £2 coins are relatively rare).
    The original 6d fare on the orignal Red Arrow services is a sensible exact fare.

    Coin in the slot machines where they have to attract you in either give change or, less often, can be worked by a single coin. If the price requires an odd combination of coins, you know they’ve got you over a barrel.

  209. Mike says:

    Timbeau: precisely so. My local provider in NZ has a policy that all cash fares are in multiples of 50c (and change is still given), and smartcard fares are generally 20% cheaper. Makes a lot of sense, though it does mean that when lower cash fares are raised the % increase is high.

  210. Malcolm says:

    £1.80 may be a “silly” single cash fare for Reading buses. But at least some cash payers will have the right change, and the others will pay £2. If the fare was unsillified, then everyone would pay £2. Who wins by that?

  211. Malcolm says:

    In the discussions about cash handling by drivers, no-one has yet raised the issue of suspected, or alleged, fraud by the said drivers. Whether or not these “fiddles” are as widespread as I have heard suggested, the very possibility must be downright poisonous to industrial relations. (The allegedly widespread fraud which I have heard about was neither in London nor recent, I should add).

  212. Greg Tingey says:

    Diamond Geezer has just raised the subject.
    I have back-linked to this article, as well.
    Today or tomorrow is the last day for consultation ….

  213. A729 says:

    I think this is a bad idea- won’t TfL still have to handle an waful lot of cash on daily basis through tube stations? Why doesn’t TfL use it’s economy of mass scale to whittle costs down

  214. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Sources (BBC London, Mayorwatch blog) on Twitter are reporting that TfL buses go cashless from 6 July 2014. No official TfL press release on the TfL site yet.

  215. Ken Gill says:

    I do not and will not have a bank card that has a contactless payment facility. The only method I have for paying for ad hoc journeys in London or any other city on my occaisional visits is by using legal tender of the realm in which I am at that time. I can just imagine the scene in a busy London street with the bus driver, who is probably not either chosen or trained for their knowledge of the English Legal system not being able to convince me of the need to use something I do not have. I therefore expect TFL to provide certified copies on each bus of any relevant legislation in all languages native to the UK and regularly spoken by UK inhabitants i.e at least Welsh, Gaelic, Cornish etc,

  216. Greg Tingey says:

    Indeed, refusing coin of the realm is IIRC not a legal option.
    I wonder.
    There’s also the problem, mentioned by previous posters…
    What about the “fringes” areas where TfL buses are operating outside the GLA area & Oyster card purchases / top-ups / renewals (etc ad nauseam ) cannot be done easily.
    There is going to be a lot of screaming & shouting going on.
    Sooner or later a person, or group of people are going to point-blank refuse to get off the bus – why should they, after all?
    Then the fun will start.

  217. AlisonW says:

    Ken – that would be overkill, in addition to being pointless. Any service provider is able to set their own rules and you then have a Hobson’s Choice about accepting them or making alternative plans.

    i , for one, greatly look forward to the reduced dwell time ahead.

  218. John Bull says:


    Do you also refuse to pay for train tickets, demanding that the man at the barriers takes the physical cash from your hands instead? If you do, then how successful is that as an approach?

    I appreciate that’s a somewhat extreme example but ultimately what Alison says is correct. TfL are a service provider in this context, nothing more. They have no legal obligation to take you as a passenger, and you have no automatic right to travel.

    As Alison says, like it or not your choice is ultimately to pay for your journey in an appropriate way or make alternate arrangements for travel.

    Frankly the whole “legal tender” thing is one of those tired, mis-understood arguments that people use to try and justify a whole range of things on which it has no bearing. As is the case here.

  219. Lawyerboy says:


    There is no requirement for TFL to accept cash. The ‘legal tender’ point is (and is only) that a creditor must accept cash when offered in settlement of a debt. This is intended to protect a debtor from an unreasonable creditor who refuses to accept repayment: the debtor can tender the cash, and if the creditor refuses to accept it he cannot enforce his other rights in respect of the amount tendered.

    In practice, this is never relevant: when debtors approach creditors to pay, creditors take the money!

    All this legal theory has no application in the bus ticket scenario. The passenger is not trying to settle a debt. He is trying to buy a ticket. TFL don’t have to sell it to him. No debtor-creditor relationship arises.

    Also, from a more legal realist perspective, which district judge or magistrate is going to have sympathy with the man who walks onto a bus and tries to pay in cash the driver doesn’t have the facilities to store etc? They’ll simply see such a customer for the kook that they are.

    @Ken Ironically your proposal of providing copies of ‘relevant legislation’ (these are buses, not law libraries on wheels!) might itself be unlawful, because your criteria for identifying languages ‘native to the UK’ seems to discriminate on grounds of race.

  220. timbeau says:

    As has been said above, legal tender is only an issue if you are settling a debt. Which might be the case if you have already made – or at least started – your journey (what about the old-fashioned conductors on the 15H?). But until you board the bus no contract exists between you and the bus company, and there is no obligation on the bus company to enter into one unless it chooses to do so, on its terms.
    Of course those terms have to comply with the law – it would be illegal, for example to charge different fares for people of colour, or according to gender. Moreover, TfL are not refusing to accept cash – just that they are expecting you to pay in advance by loading up an Oyster. In that sense, it is no different from buying a train ticket.

    “criteria for identifying languages ‘native to the UK’ seems to discriminate on grounds of race”
    I don’t think so – it is not racial discrimination to have official notices to be written (only) in the official language(s) of the locality. If you are in a country where you are not a native speaker of the official language, that’s your lookout.
    If you go to Germany, do you expect all signs there to be in English? And Urdu, Japanese, Turkish, Welsh and Gujarati as well?

  221. Anomnibus says:


    “But until you board the bus no contract exists between you and the bus company…”


    @Ken Gill:

    By boarding a bus (or stepping into a station), you are agreeing to the operator’s contract terms and conditions. It’s that simple.

    All contracts must be agreed to by both parties, so you do not get to unilaterally demand that every operator offers their service in compliance with your own terms and conditions: these companies make their money shifting thousands of people a day, not just one, so losing your custom isn’t going to bother them in the slightest.

    As you haven’t actually agreed to the operator’s contract to begin with, they are not a creditor and you are not in debt to them, so they have no duty whatsoever to accept your offer of cash (so the “legal tender” thing is irrelevant). They are not a creditor and you are not a debtor. If you boarded their bus with no intention of abiding by their terms, you are trespassing on private property. It would be you who’d be breaking the law.

    London is an exception in accepting cash fares on buses today; it’s far from common practice in most major cities.


    Contrary to popular belief, all businesses in the UK have the right to refuse service to any customer. While there are legal limits to such refusals, there is nothing in English law that obliges a business to always accept cash, regardless of the impact doing so would have on their business.

  222. timbeau says:

    A contract requires an “offer” and “acceptance”. On a bus the offer is the published Ts & Cs, the acceptance is boarding the bus.
    Conversely, you are within your rights to not pay for a trolleyful of shopping, right up to the point where the cashier has rung up the last item and said “that’ll be £123.45 please”. Only at that point is an offer made (“you can have that lot for £123.45”).
    If you decide not to accept, you can walk away, and some shelf-stacker will have to return the items to the shelves. This has been used by activists as a method of protesting about some policy of the shop in question.

    Of course, as the shop is private property, the manager can bar you from coming back.

  223. Melvyn says:

    To aid discussion on going cashless I have added link to TFL consultation –

    one of the contentious points on the original consultation was the suggestion that if someone did not have a valid ticket or contactless payment card they would be told by the driver to leave the bus no matter what time it was !

    Of course routes with FREEMASTERS don’t count I suppose !

    @ Ken Gill the fact is most bus operators in other countries in Europe don’t use cash fares with users needing to buy tickets at tobacconists just like with oyster .

    Anyway cash fares represent only 1% of fares and so have already disappeared .

    The daft thing of course was how Boris consulted on removal of RTMS from bus stops without any mention of removing cash fares and so consultation was flawed on basis of passengers being told tickets could still be bought from driver !

    By rights the consultations should have run together and there is still a good case for RTMS selling 1 day tickets at bus stations and major bus stops .

    Of course I use paper Travelcard issued by railway and so look like I’m freeloading when I use centre entrance of Borismasters just like in days of Artic buses …!

    In fact with expansion of Borisbuses and going cashless the question as to whether ALL BUSES should have ticket validators at centre door arises!

  224. Rational Plan says:

    Most shops refuse to accept £50 notes these days. Many are not that keen on £20’s. As a way to reduce theft risk many shops also operate till safes where all high denomination notes are put. Therefore many tills only have tenners in them. These shops are perfectly happy to refuse to sell customers small value items if it avoids having to give change.

    You only need a line of people with £20 notes paying for newspapers and gum to empty your till.

    Of course it does not help that many people from abroad buy their currency at home and do not realise that a roll of £50 notes is going to be an annoying for a holiday in the UK and also those out of date £20 notes are no good either, you’ll need to go to a bank to exchange them.

    Money is expensive to handle and police, lots of the rules are to prevent staff from stealing everything they can. I can think of three people this year we’ve had arrested for theft, one managed £17,000 over a few months.

  225. ChrisMitch says:

    Tourists should be aware that bureaux des changes (is that the correct plural?) give out high-denomination notes.
    It is the same problem that we have here with cash machines not dispensing £5 notes.
    Banks like high denomination notes because they are easier to transport. But customers can’t easily use them.
    I am perfectly aware when I buy foreign currency that a wad of $50 and $100 bills or €50 notes is not much use if I want to buy anything – you need to ASK for smaller demoninations.

  226. Greg Tingey says:

    Chris Mitch
    it’s the nitty-gritty little practical details that are the nuisances aren’t they?
    Like… how are people living outside the GLA area going to get their oyster & other prepay tickets?
    What is going to happen the next time there’s an Ireland-England rugger match @ Twickers?
    What is going to happen to foreigners arrived overnight at any of the airports, with £20 notes the smallest-denomination Brit money they have?
    [ I got caught that way in Paris, once – what a palaver … ]

  227. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau et al – I’ve always been taught that a valid contract requires offer, acceptance *and* consideration.

  228. Mike says:

    Ken Gill’s basic premise is wrong, too: “The only method I have for paying for ad hoc journeys in London or any other city on my occaisional [sic] visits is by using legal tender of the realm”.

    No, you can use Oyster (which is not “a bank card that has a contactless payment facility”) for such ad hoc journeys, just as many visitors (like me) do.

  229. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Anomnibus,Walthamstow Writer,

    A contract, in the strict legal sense of the word, is something that is freely entered into by both parties.

    Clearly, in that legal sense, TfL have not freely entered into it, as they are obliged to carry you providing the Conditions and Terms of Carriage (bye laws) are met.

    As such, all your references to the Law Of Contract are irrelevant and inapplicable.

  230. Mike says:

    PoP – are you sure? I thought all such common-carrier-like obligations disappeared under the Transport Act 1962. Aren’t TfL’s conditions of carriage analagous to the conditions under which any contract is made? And since TfL has freely made those conditions, wouldn’t they only be obliged to themselves – ie not at all?

    And if the payment of TfL fares isn’t covered by the law of contract, what law makes such transactions legally enforceable?

  231. HTFB says:

    Common carriage law still holds good, if you can find a common carrier. TfL is explicitly declared, in the 1999 GLA Act, not to be a common carrier by rail or inland waterway. The Act doesn’t mention roads or buses in this context.

  232. Anomnibus says:


    Buses aren’t operated directly by TfL the way London Overground and London Underground are. Buses are let out as concessions to private operators, all of whom are obliged to abide by the PSV-related laws, none of which claim that a PSV operator is legally required to accept cash fares on the vehicle itself.

    Incidentally, some parts of the law don’t apply at all if all fares are paid prior to boarding, so that may be part of the motivation behind TfL’s push for a totally cashless infrastructure.

    This is also one of the reasons why most long-distance coach services are operationally distinct from buses. A distinction that is becoming increasingly blurred, as the PSV-related Act dates way back to 1981—an era before the Internet and pre-booking on websites. (And apps like Uber—the same Act also covers Black Cabs.)

  233. AlisonW says:

    PoP: “obliged to carry you providing the Conditions and Terms of Carriage (bye laws) are met”

    That will be why buses stop everyone getting on when they are full then. Any room on top?

  234. timbeau says:

    “TfL have not freely entered into it, as they are obliged to carry you providing the Conditions and Terms of Carriage (bye laws) are met”
    As has been said, TfL set the conditions of carriage (and your contract is with them, the operator is merely their agent), and those conditions are essentially an offer, which you accept by boarding the bus.

    @WW the consideration is the fare paid. If you pay in advance e.g by loading an Oyster, the contract is made at that point – essentially by accepting your money TfL have then agreed to carry you at some future date, subject to their Ts & Cs.

  235. Rational Plan says:

    @chris Mitch, you’d think so but it rarely happens. Besides all banks etc are not interested in handling large amounts of small denomination notes. In most cases when you ask for small notes you will get one large note broken down, with the rest remaining the same. Also people from some countries carry a lot a cash with them when coming to the UK. All those long haul tourists from the developing world with rolls of £50’s and a couple of £20’s

    But they are not the problem, very few non english people travel outside the airports free travel zone. It’s people who once went on a bus 20 years ago and are outraged that things have changed.

  236. Long Branch Mike (près de Trois Pistoles) says:


    It is <>.


    What is PSV?

    RTMS. Roadside Ticket Machines for buses in Central London, phased out in February 2013 due to low usage.

  237. timbeau says:

    PSV = Public service vehicle : or, in English, a bus.

  238. Timbeau,

    I still think you and others are barking up the wrong tree and you really ought to forget about the law of contract as applied to boarding a bus.

    The consideration is not necessarily the fare paid. What about servicemen in uniform? Where is the consideration there?

  239. Mike says:

    PoP – so what tree should we be barking up?

    TfL’s (self-imposed) conditions of carriage don’t give any clues as to why an agreement to be carried by TfL should be any different legally from any other agreement for the performance of services, so why do you think the laws of contract don’t apply?

    And to clarify my earlier comment, I think common-carrier status of publicly owned transport was abolished, with the British Transport Commission, in 1962 – as confirmed by HTFB, TfL has no such obligation.

  240. timbeau says:

    What is this about servicemen? Do they get to travel for free? If so, and assuming this isn’t paid for in another way (by a grant perhaps) and there is no consideration (in money or in kind) then there is no contract.

    What I was taught in law is:
    offer, acceptance, consideration. If any of those elements are missing, there is no contract. If they are all there, a contract exists.

  241. Graham Feakins says:

    @timbeau – but the consideration can be of zero value, rather like overseas clients being charged VAT at zero rate.

  242. Pedantic of Purley says:


    There also has to be an agreement freely entered into.

  243. Ian J says:

    I would have thought the main legal framework under which TfL carries people is under its (very broad) statutory powers to offer services and require payment, and so it wouldn’t worry about contract law either way. For example when people fail to pay Penalty Fares, as I understand it TfL don’t sue them for breach of contract – they bring criminal prosecutions.

    While looking up what those powers are, I was diverted by <a href=";this clause in the Greater London Act 1999:

    “Transport for London may carry passengers by any form of land or water transport (including in either case hovercraft) within, to or from Greater London”

    I’m not sure what colour roundel hovercrafts would get, but I dare say we could have a lengthy argument about whether they should be on the tube map.

  244. AlisonW says:

    One could make a good argument that the dangleway is neither “land or water transport”.

  245. timbeau says:

    If one party makes an offer, and the other accepts it, isn’t that an agreement freely entered into? There may be some debate about who made the offer (is it the operator, or are they merely acting as an agent for the party who drew up the bylaws and fare charts).

    The fact that fare evasion is also a criminal offence does not mean that a contract does not also exist.

    @Graham F
    If there is no consideration at all, it is not a contract, and is just a promise – only binding if made under seal.
    That is why some transfers of ownership are done for tiny amounts (e.g Rover, W&C).

    The consideration does not have to be money – if you feed my cat in exchange for me mowing your lawn, that’s a perfectly valid contract: and I could sue you for breach of contract if you don’t keep your side of the bargain and the cat dies.

  246. Chris L says:

    @Ian J
    Hovercraft on the Thames were used for commuter services between Greenwich & Westminster piers in the late 60s/early 70s. Not really fast enough.

    Replaced by Russian built hydrofoils which used to get their propellers/gearboxes damaged by nylon rope which floats just under the surface. Service didn’t last long.

  247. Anonymous says:

    I can see this having a negative impact on those on the front line, the poor drivers.
    Can see assaults rising rapidly.
    If I were a bus driver I would think it’s not worth it and just push the button for paper travelcards on the ticket machine and pocket any coins laid on the tray.

  248. Mike says:

    PoP – “There also has to be an agreement freely entered into”, and there is – the passenger is free to board or otherwise, and TfL (or its contractors) is free to let people board or otherwise, subject to its self-imposed conditions of carriage.

    It would be very good if you could support your assertion that “you really ought to forget about the law of contract as applied to boarding a bus”. Without knowing the basis for this, it’s impossible to see why you’re suggesting that, particularly when all elements of a contract appear to be there for most (if not all) passengers (who may not be the suppliers of the consideration).

  249. Long Branch Mike (près de Trois Pistoles) says:


    Hovercraft were hellishly loud, and in such an urban environment, probably withdrawn for that reason as well.


    Thank you for the (totally unexpected) meaning. Mr Internet said twas a soccer/futbal team, of all things. 😉

  250. The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Orange says:

    Just to complicate matters, some London buses were built in Eindhoven.

  251. Graham H says:

    @PoP – Common carrier obligations were indeed abolished by the 1962 Act and we took care in the 1984 legislation to ensure that LRT had no such obligation, nor indeed any duty to provide anything at all, unlike BRB. TfL’s powers and duties follow those of LRT. The contract that exists between a carrier and passenger is, in legal terms, no different to that which exists between some supermarket selling beans and its customers – either you pay the advertised price and get the beans of the advertised quality, or you don’t get them. The method of payment is irrelevant even if some folk might hope that Mr Justice Cocklecarrot will come to their rescue – vendors always have the right to refuse to sell without having to justify themselves: the conditions of carriage merely qualify the contract as it is entered into. Their existence does not generate a contract per set.

  252. Melvyn says:

    As I said earlier when I travel to London I buy a Travelcard which includes bus, train, tube etc and I assume Travelcard add on applies to all rail journeys within old Network South East .

    So can Travelcard option be added to long distance rail tickets ?

    Of course technology is changing with the development of ITSO tickets and cards similar to Oyster (e.g Southern Key ) which is gradually expanding its use and brings forward the possibility of using same card on rail and bus in Brighton and London and the new TSGN franchise won by present Southern operator brings forward the possibility of The Key spreading to full TSGN network !

    I remember reading that when former Mayor Ken looked at buses going cashless an image akin to the ” pink elephant nightmare !” of RTMS marching across London it became obvious that all stops could never have ticket machines .

    The removal of the last few per cent of cash fares was always going to be difficult and Boris made things worse by abolishing 1 day bus ticket and retaining cash single when it should have been the other way round!

    TFL talk about ticket stops in shops and one more trip if your oyster is in credit but not much use if you need to change buses at 3am ?

  253. Ian J says:

    @anonymous: If I were a bus driver I would think it’s not worth it and just push the button for paper travelcards on the ticket machine and pocket any coins laid on the tray.

    Reducing employee fraud of this type is one major (unstated) motive for getting rid of cash fares – if no cash fares are accepted, there is no need for a coin tray or for drivers to handle money.

  254. timbeau says:

    Wouldn’t stop a driver taking the money and recording the passenger as having presented a paper travelcard as anon suggests (or not recording it at all).

  255. Greg Tingey says:

    Graham H
    it isn’t “refusal to pay” that’s the problem.
    You are perfectly willing & able to pay & want to enter into a valid contract – but you can’t …
    You have a non-Wave-&-Pay credit-card or cash only.
    Now what?
    And, it’s late at night & you’re a foreigner or have lost/been robbed of your cards etc, or it’s a rugger match @ Twickers, or it’s an out-of-town service & no Oyster in wherever it is, or any combination of the above.
    THAT is the nub of the problem(s), not the “Legal” nonsense we’ve all be spouting the past 2 days …
    How to get around that, without violence, either on the bus, or to the dumped passenger in the middle of the night.

    CCTV can “see” the driver, as well.
    SO, TfL’s rules may force a driver to abandon someone in the middle of the night.

    Let us also remember the try-it-on brigade, as well – I encountered some such on a very early W’stow-Tottie Hale journey, which made us all late, because the driver, correctly this time, wasn’t having any of it, & refused to move until they left.
    Which brings us back to “difficult judgement calls” doesn’t it?

  256. Graham H says:

    I see from reports in the trade press that the Dutch have just ended both paper tickets and cash fares for all public transport by whatever mode, with all stations becoming closed to people without smartcards. It seems they took some persuasion to recognise the needs of casual travellers (and visitors from abroad) and have now introduced a one-time smartcard – for an extra euro. Maybe this is the way TfL will go, although at least they don’t have the added complication that, in the Netherlands, ticket machines will accept only Dutch-registered credit cards, or low denomination coins. As one travel site advised – if you arrive at Schipol and want to buy a train or bus ticket, make a deal with a friendly passing Dutchman…

  257. Long Branch Mike (St-Jean-sur-Richelieu) says:

    @Ian J

    “if no cash fares are accepted, there is no need for a coin tray or for drivers to handle money”

    Why doesn’t TfL use locked fareboxes for the occasional cash fares? They are used everywhere in North America, and keep drivers’ away from handling filthy lucre. Whilst very simple mechanically, and relatively cheap, more advanced versions count the coins (and now probably read bills) to ascertain payment amount and print transfers/receipts.

    The bonus comes with those without proper fare overpaying (sometimes considerably), a nice bonus for the transit operator.

    Regarding refusal of carriage, my instructors for Toronto transit bus training stated very clearly that we could not refuse anyone to board.

    The rationale was that refuge from bad weather (cold sub-zero winters), extreme intoxication, and risk of assault, robbery, or rape in unsafe areas or hours was worth much more than the $3 fare (2 pounds approx.) Not to mention the avoidance of very bad publicity for the transit agency and the city.

    Non-refusal of service also greatly reduced assaults on drivers.

    Bref, public transit was explained to us as being a social service as well as being a transportation system.

    I realize that the municipally run transit systems over here have a very different basis of operation and culture than the franchised/deregulated model used in the UK, but some aspects could certainly be adopted.

  258. timbeau says:

    Sorry to lapse into legalese, but although as you say “You are perfectly willing & able to pay & want to enter into a valid contract “, you would not be accepting the offer that is made (which includes the means of payment). If the Ts &Cs say “card only”, offering to pay by cash instead is not acceptance of the original offer but a new “offer”, which TfL can decide not to accept.

    I agree entirely that not having the right magic wand shouldn’t be a bar to getting on a bus, and that the problems you describe can and will occur, but sadly there is nothing in law to stop TfL imposing this.
    We can only hope that if enough people express their views on this to their MLA there will be a change of policy, or failing that a change of government at City Hall. In my case, having failed to persuade my MLA to vote against going cashless, I have told him I will not be voting for him next time. If enough people do the same, the politicians may get the message.

  259. timbeau says:

    “I realize that the municipally run transit systems over here have a very different basis of operation and culture than the franchised/deregulated model used in the UK, .”

    The irony is that London is an exception to that model: the services remain regulated by, and operated for, TfL.

    The annual savings supposed to be achieved by going cashless are not very large really – little more than one bus fare for each member of the population.

  260. AlisonW says:

    From reading a few of the recent comments one might get the idea that some people feel that a bus service should be free if you can’t be bothered to pay in the required manner. One wouldn’t expect to just climb onboard a train or aeroplane and demand free travel so why should a bus be different?

    And suggesting it is about the safety of the want-to-be-traveller falls down when routes are withdrawn entirely.


  261. Anomnibus says:

    @Greg Tingey:

    “it isn’t “refusal to pay” that’s the problem.
    You are perfectly willing & able to pay & want to enter into a valid contract – but you can’t …
    You have a non-Wave-&-Pay credit-card or cash only.
    Now what?”

    You walk. Or phone a friend. Or hail a taxi.

    Last time I checked, London still had plenty of alternatives to buses.

  262. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – agreed that the bus service isn’t a charity. However it is publicly owned and controlled and democratically accountable in London which makes it a bit different to elsewhere. There is the potential for significant and damaging headlines if there is a nasty assault / incident where someone was refused travel. Trent Barton, a private operator in Notts / Derbyshire, received some very bad press when a young woman was refused travel late at night as she did not have the full fare home. She offered to pay what she could but was turned off and then violently assaulted. The company admitted its driver did not follow policy. With 15,000+ drivers in London there must be a risk of a repeat because human beings will come to different conclusions when put in the same situation because of their own past experience / bias / inability to reach the right conclusion. That’s not a criticism merely an observation. I’ve seen a photo of some of the drivers’ advice for the upcoming change and heard some other stuff about it and I’m not terribly confident about how it’s going to work. The level of publicity doesn’t feel appropriate either with only announcements on buses. I’ve yet to see a poster or notice inside a bus. There is social media activity which usually generates a load of negative / rude responses when people realise what’s happening.

    In London you can guarantee that “bad press” will happen if something similar occurs but you will also see it turn political very quickly. That is because the policy direction is set by the Mayor who has imposed an ongoing efficiencies programme on TfL that is so severe that it is now damaging customer service facilities for passengers. I fully recognise that technology has had and will continue to have a big impact on revenue collection but how much money will be wasted on dealing with the negative consequences of this policy if things do not run smoothly? On a final note TfL have refused to publish the updated driver advice on dealing with vulnerable passengers having been asked to do so by Darren Johnson, Green Party London Assembly Member. I can see that one running on for a while yet with a Mayor’s Question almost certainly following.

  263. CdBrux says:

    Here in Brussels there is a multilevel pricing depending on how you pay – made easier by the journey being a flat fare price no matter how far you travel.

    * If I buy a ten card trip it’s €14 from the ticket machine – not located at every stop but certainly all the major ones.
    * If, from the same machines, I buy a 1 trip card it’s (from memory) €2
    * And if I pay the tram or bus driver direct it’s either €2.50 or €3 for a single trip, I’m not entirely sure, the key point being this is notably more expensive.
    * I believe the equivalent of the oyster card is probably the cheapest.

    So they recoup some or all the additional costs for handling the money which seems a balanced approach to me. As London prices are based on zones then surely adding an additional 50p or so for a cash fare should not be too complicated although it’ll cause a stink amongst the small bunch who will cry loudly it’s unfair and treating people unequally etc… (but then so does the Oyster card if they are that worried)

  264. Malcolm says:

    @cdbrux : London train fares are based on zones, but London bus fares, oddly, are fixed price for any distance on a single bus. The approach of accepting cash but making it more expensive than the alternatives is the current (about to end) situation.

    Of course there are plenty of alternative possibilities, but, as discussed at enormous length above, Boris has ruled them all out. It’s going to be Oyster only, and no amount of rational discussion here or anywhere else will make any difference.

    (My theory, for what it’s worth, is that it is all about the politics. Tories seem to feel that a bit of nastiness – especially when it’s apparently directed at someone else – goes down well with the electorate. It certainly goes down well in the tory press).

  265. Greg Tingey says:

    Graham H
    I presume, though @ Schipol (A place I’ve used to change trains) you can still, unlike TfL … go to a manned ticket office & present your UK-registered credit/debit card for a fare or pass?

    ALison W
    “TANSTAAFL” as first seen (I think) in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” by Robert Anson Heinlein. ( ! ? )
    Agreed, but, I’m not arguing for giving it away, as you may be thinking … I’m arguing that those able & willing to pay, but without what timbeau calls “the right magic wand” should not be penalised.
    Given timbeau’s other comment about the small (relative ) amount of money actually saved, one begins to wonder, really if it’s worth the effort?

    TfL have refused to publish the updated driver advice on dealing with vulnerable passengers having been asked to do … That really does not leave me feeling ever so reassured … in fact it strongly suggests something (nasty) to hide, doesn’t it?

  266. timbeau says:

    I don’t think it’s nastiness: but simply counting the cost of everything: knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. To misquote an advert for something or other:
    Going cashless: £3 per Londoner.
    Being able to get home safely in the middle of the night even though your Oyster has been stolen or stopped working and all the Ticket stops are shut: priceless.

  267. timbeau says:

    “but London bus fares, oddly, are fixed price for any distance on a single bus”
    A consequence (and a welcome one) of Oyster: since you don’t touch out on a bus there is no way to calculate graduated fares.

  268. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – apologies for pedantry but it will be Oyster / Freedom Pass or contactless bank card for the vast majority of people. Some will have a concessionary pass from outside London, some will have paper Travelcards and a tiny few may have Bus Saver tickets. The essential distinction is that ticketing for bus will be all “off bus” with no sales on vehicle.

    As to what lies behind this it is money plus a technology based strategy which is bringing further change in order to lower costs. I doubt Boris is being deliberately nasty but I don’t think he’s capable of putting himself in the shoes of a person who may be caught out / disadvantaged by the new policy and its rules. I actually don’t think he understands very much about buses as a form of public transport. He steadfastly refuses to ever answer in detail the regular Mayor’s Questions about “when did he last use a bus and what route was it?”. He cycles, he likes cars and I assume he regularly uses taxis and ends up on the tube / train sometimes. Apart from electioneering and promoting the NB4L I have never seen a photo / tweet / whatever about him being on a bus. There’s an open debate to be had about the relevance or otherwise of a City’s Mayor using the services they’re responsible for but I do think using public transport regularly in London is a plus point for the Mayor of London (and future candidates). We all knew Mr Livingstone used the tube and the buses and doesn’t drive. If nothing else it means they have some level of understanding of the conditions people travel in and the delays they suffer.

  269. Chris L says:

    @Long Branch Mike (près de Trois Pistoles) @timbeau

    I travelled on the hovercraft and it was not that loud. They was a crowd of regulars who were loyal to the end.

    The hydrofoils were better but they had to carry a diver to unwrap nylon rope from the propeller.

    An alternative was to slam the engines into reverse and hope the rope unwound.

    Get the timing right and it worked. Wrong and the gearbox was stripped.

    By the way, the modern generation of Thames Clippers may appear to be a green option. Unfortunately the marine diesel engines are not.

  270. AlisonW says:

    timbeau: stage fares on buses have, in my experience, never required re-showing the ticket to alight. Oyster could easily have been operated in the similar manner, it was just decided to go to zones (multiple, then single) instead.

  271. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @Anon 1744 – or they received a press release from Darren Johnson (AM) and regurgitated it and the response from TfL. Seems they’re incapable of independent thought and analysis but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I note one of the commenters under the article is not terribly aware of how TfL run services especially those outside of Greater London. I personally can’t see Potters Bar or Staines being plunged into chaos just because TfL buses go cashless. The 465 to Dorking and Leatherhead is more problematic as no extra Ticket Stops seem to have been added – you can’t buy an Oyster card in Dorking, Westhumble or Box Hill. There is only one Ticket Stop in central Epsom with others being some distance away in Ewell. Oddly the Ticket Stop locator doesn’t work under Google Chrome but does in Internet Explorer – bizarre.

  272. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – Sorry to disagree with you but I don’t think graduated, staged fares were ever an easy option with Oyster. There are three ways to do it –

    (1) force everyone using PAYG to state a destination on boarding so the driver sets the fare and then you touch in. Needless to say this doesn’t speed things up. Reducing stop dwell times by speeding up the ticket transactions was a key aspect of the business case. The flat fare is therefore a pretty fundamental aspect of the economics of London bus operation – for both revenue and costs.

    (2) require everyone to touch in and also to actively touch out on exit. Given how busy some routes are this could cause congestion and slow down the alighting process. To “encourage” people you would have to deduct a special maximum fare on entry and then add value back on exit (as happens with the tube). Needless to say this carries the risk of card validaton problems and mischarges if people don’t touch out properly or readers are defective.

    (3) require everyone to touch in and have “passive” reading technology at exit. This was looked at quite thoroughly by the Buses project team but the technology was not mature then. Given the fact that some people carry multiple Oyster cards there would be reading problems. Add in the use of contactless bank cards and “card clash” issues it would be impossible to do these days. There are also issues about how you properly manage flow past passive readers.

    Now I have used exit smartcard readers on buses in Singapore and while their system is busy it’s not as bad as London is. Culturally I think there is less fraud risk there than in London. The exit readers only activate within a few metres of the bus arriving at a stop to try to prevent people touching out after 1 stop but riding for 10 stops. There are a load of rules involved in the administration of incorrect charges, defective readers etc. They also have switchable readers so that at termini the entry readers by the front door can be switched to exit mode to allow two stream of people to alight from buses and still touch out with their EZ Link pass. I never had a problem in SG but I had to consciously adjust my behaviour to remember to touch out on buses. I had the same when travelling in Amsterdam a couple of years ago.

    I thnk London has a problem with the flat fare concept that will emerge in a few years. At the moment people seem happy to “short hop” for the current fare and view it as reasonable for medium or longer distance journeys. However as fares continue to rise (as I am sure they will) you start to erode your short hop rider base as the view of value for money changes. Now that might be a good thing but it will pull down ridership and revenue from PAYG users. Those with passes may be unaffected but that does rather depend on how they’re priced. If the budgetary pressures remain then TfL may also feel that a flat fare is too much of a bargain for longer journeys so may well want to move to a two stage fare structure. They will need to do something about exit validation at that time but it won’t come cheap.

    However the extra journey data and the ability to see connecting journeys may be a significant benefit if it allows TfL to adjust services and save money. Whether TfL provide a discount in future for connecting trips, as has happened in Hong Kong where bus to bus interchanges have been established, remains to be seen. The bus companies in HK have removed through services thus lowering their operating costs but have improved the connecting services and offered a discounted through fare. Singapore have done something similar with their bus fares but they are pursuing a new strategy of significant expansion and improvement of their bus network.

    I imagine TfL are keeping an eye on technological developments for card reading at exit on buses but it’s not an easy problem to fix if you have concerns about how your passengers may behave / comply with your rule set.

  273. timbeau says:

    @Chris L
    “I travelled on the hovercraft and it was not that loud. ”
    As with aircraft, it’s the people outside who are affected by the noise.

    I remember once standing on the cliffs above Dover and hearing a very loud noise: after about ten minutes the source of the noise became apparent: an approaching hovercraft from the direction of Boulogne. Bearing in mind that the cross-channel journey time was about 35 minutes and the distance about thirty miles, I must have first noticed it when it was nearly ten miles away!

    @Alison – I was going to explain why Oyster needs flat fares if you’re not touching out, but WW has already explained it better than I could have done.

  274. Anomnibus says:

    It’s worth pointing out that having only a single touch-in point for a journey isn’t as bad as it sounds as most heavy users of buses tend to make return trips.

    On the outward journey, passengers touch in at their ‘start’ bus stop and at any interchanges on the way.

    On their return journey, they touch in at their ‘destination’ stop, and other interchanges on the way back. (The above also applies to schoolchildren using buses to get to and from school.)

    You don’t get both end points for each journey, but you do get both ends of a journey for a typical commuter each day. This is relatively easy for a computer to sift through and generate reports on where most people are actually going.

    Tourists are relatively easy to spot as they will usually buy Oyster cards at tourist-centric ticket offices, or even directly through their travel agency. Thus you can monitor tourist ‘hotspots’ and where bus routes might need increased frequencies to cope during the high season.

    Casual, one-off journeys are less of an issue as these account for only a small fraction of the total.

    So the touch-in-touch-out issue isn’t as big a deal as it might first appear.

    Personally, I think a flat fare for buses, and a slightly increased flat fare for the Tube / trams, Overground, would be fine. There are other, more efficient, ways to pay for stuff than charging on a per-use basis.

    There’s no meaningful ‘competition’, and public transport provides such crucial connectivity for cities that most would be utterly paralysed without it. It’s therefore comparable to any other public utility and could be paid for entirely through either taxation, flat-rate billing, or even just a flat-rate subscription, like a mobile phone tariff.

    You could include a fixed number of such rides per month in the subscription fee— like “free minutes” on a cellphone bill—so frequent users might pay a higher subscription to get more rides, while infrequent users might prefer a lower tariff that requires they always pay a small, flat fee for each ride.

    (Tourists would, as tradition dictates, be milked for all they’re worth.)

  275. AlisonW says:

    WW et al: My point wasn’t that it was sensible, just that it could have been done as a ‘cash replacement’ option (your number 1). Non-London/non flatfare buses require you to state your destination but I’ve never been required to show the ticket to alight nor, except for a separate inspector boarding the bus, en route by the driver.

  276. Greg Tingey says:

    timbeau @ 16.49: 24/06/2014
    And Tfl refuse to “see” it – not can’t – won’t.

  277. timbeau says:

    @Alison W
    But that is surely the point – if it wasn’t for the risk of being challenged by an inspector, (or a driver with a good memory) why would anyone ever ask for anything but the cheapest bus ticket?
    One of the main reasons OPO bus dwell times in London have fallen in the past 15 years (indirectly leading to the loss of the Routemaster’s main advantage over OPOs, and their earlier-than-planned demise) is the simplicity of a flat fare. Having to face a multiple-choice menu at touch-in would inevitably slow these things down again.

  278. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – the problem, though, is that TfL are desperately trying to stop operating costs going up / increases in bus network subsidy. Anything that slows down boarding speeds makes routes less efficient which means more buses are needed for a given frequency or you have to reduce frequency to avoid needing more buses. Also a flat fare immediately removes a common form of ticket fraud – overriding. TfL have removed / reduced a number of forms of ticket fraud on the bus network and presumably have been able to scale back the number of revenue inspectors as a result (I don’t know this for certain).

    I’ve not used an ITSO spec smartcard elsewhere in the UK but from comments I’ve read the common observation is that ITSO is slow and the ticket transaction process has not been radically improved. One noticeable difference between London and provincial buses is dwell time – buses in Manchester or Newcastle stand still for minutes at a time because every passenger takes so much time to pay cash or process a pass. London buses can handle multiples of passengers for the same dwell time – clearly some routes do have long dwell time at very busy stops (e.g Stratford Bus Stn or Leyton Tube Station) but you’re talking about 50-60 people getting on the bus rather than 15-20 that you’d see in the provinces.

  279. Graham Feakins says:

    And it was interesting to note ‘a visitor’ tonight in front of me at the Charing Cross (main line) gates trying to get out with his card ticket by swiping it on the Oyster card reader! Eternal thanks were proffered when I showed him the slot into which the ticket had to be inserted to open the gate. As there were only three Green exit gates right across the suburban concourse at that time of night, he could have held up the queues trying to get out even more than was the case.

  280. Mike says:

    “Having to face a multiple-choice menu at touch-in would inevitably slow these things down again” – why would anyone have to face that? Smart-card graduated fares can easily be accommodated by touching off as well as on, as happens in many places. Easy and pretty quick, and charging to the end of the line if you don’t touch off means that it’s pretty much self policing, too.

  281. Ian J says:

    @Mike:Easy and pretty quick

    But not as quick as if passengers don’t have to touch off, especially at stops like tube stations in the morning where large numbers of people get off at once. So you would still have to factor longer dwell times into the business case, which would probably cost more than it was worth – especially given that (unlike on the tube) most bus journeys would probably not span more than one zone anyway.

  282. Mike says:

    Ian J – agreed that dwell time is an issue, though a study I read a while back indicated that touching off didn’t generally increase this (obviously that study couldn’t have been done in London) – I was just highlighting a non-issue being raised.

    Another example is “Needless to say this [touching out] carries the risk of card validaton problems and mischarges if people don’t touch out properly or readers are defective” – yes, but touching in has exactly the same issues, and touch in/touch out for buses happily exists in many places without these issues being of any significance.

  283. Fandroid says:

    My observation of ITSO cards (English national concession cards) on buses outside London is that they do speed up boarding enormously, compared with what went before. That’s not to say that they are as quick as Oyster cards on London buses. The standard readers on Stagecoach and Go-Ahead services flash two lights in sequence to confirm that the card has been read, but if you fumble or the reader is having a bad day, it requires the driver to re-set it and the process to be repeated. First Group seem to insist on issuing a ticket, so that adds time to the process. Stating the destination and taking a ticket is also required on some rural Stagecoach services (eg in Lake District). Overall, the Oyster system and the London flat fare seems to be the slickest operation around.

  284. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @Mike – To help increase my knowledge could you list the places where there is smartcard reading on entry and exit? I can only think of three – Trent Barton Buses (Mango Card), Singapore (EZ Pass) and the Netherlands (OV Chipkaart). Clearly the latter two are big schemes. Genuine question btw – if I’ve missed some schemes then it would nice to learn about them.

  285. Melvyn says:

    Fandroid ITSO is not just about concessionary fares but is about a national standard for all fares. In fact Soujthern Key is one such card which can be used on buses and increasingly on Southern rail services and will no doubt expand to full TSGN network . It can now be used for journeys to London and will in due course be accepted on TFL services .

    A more contentious issue re flat fare on buses is the fact you pay the same for a full length journey on a local bus around say Ealing as you do on route 25 from Ilford to Oxford Street !

    So should different flat fares apply on shorter routes and does this not raise the question as to whether we should have fewer but longer routes like we used to have ?

    The one more journey option is not much use if you need to change night buses .

    I still think RTMS should have remained at major bus stops, bus stations etc and why was no moved made to allow RTMS to top up Oyster cards made ?

  286. Mike says:

    WW: In addition to those touch on/touch off systems that you mention I’m aware of (in rough order of current size) Seoul (T-money), Melbourne (myki),Auckland (AT HOP), Wellington & Whangarei (Snapper), Sydney (Opal).

  287. Melvyn says:

    One question I failed to raise above is – can a contactless payment card be used to pay for more than one person in same transaction ?

    I’m thinking of say a couple travelling together who only have 1 card.

  288. Mike says:

    Melvyn – Wellington’s Snapper smartcards can be used to pay for more than one person, but the bus driver has to set it up so it’s a bit time consuming.

  289. straphan says:

    @WW: There are many such systems in Central/Eastern Europe that I can think of – e.g. Plzen (Czech Rep.), Poznan (Poland, goes live on 1st July), Ostrava (Czech Rep.)…

  290. Southern Heights says:

    Why don’t they add Oyster topup to Cycle hire points? They are outside and all over the central part of London.

    It would solve the 3 a.m. topup issue….

  291. straphan says:

    @Southern Heights: That would require an awful lot of Oyster readers given there are none at the cycle hire stations at the moment. I think street-facing machines at stations (where feasible) is probably a more reallistic goal.

  292. timbeau says:

    Not much good out in the suburbs either, where cycle hire points are even rarer than stations which will top up Oysters even when they are open.

  293. Chris L says:

    Registered Oyster cards can be topped up automatically at a preset level.

    I’m looking forward to faster journeys.

  294. BobG says:

    @Straphan and @Southern Heights
    And also Dubai

  295. Ian J says:

    @Mike: touch on/touch off systems that you mention I’m aware of (in rough order of current size)[…]Melbourne (myki)

    However, note that Melbourne abandoned the initial intention of having touch-on/touch-off on trams, in favour of a single-zone touch-on only rule – as on London buses, this meant changing the fare zones to avoid the need for validation on exit.

  296. Mike says:

    Ian J – not quite correct: “You must touch on at the myki reader at the start of your journey. However, you only need to touch off if your whole trip is in Zone 2*”, so there is still some touching-off on trams, and on all buses. See

  297. Ollyver says:

    @Ian J @Mike “But not as quick as if passengers don’t have to touch off, especially at stops like tube stations in the morning where large numbers of people get off at once”

    Well, why not have touch-out readers at busy bus stops then? Regulars will know that they can touch out not on the bus itself, but on the reader outside, and this will reduce queues.

    (Or you could do something clever with software, and come up with some kind of out-of-station interchange where touching into the tube automatically touches you out of the nearest bus stop if you started your bus journey less than X minutes ago. But that’s probably just a recipe for over-complication. And doesn’t help if it’s a busy bus stop without being a tube station.)

  298. answer=42 says:

    Contactless Payment Cards (CPCs) are very relevant to the question of touching out and hence to this whole discussion of stage fares, transfers and so on. The card-reading system, once it has read the card for payment, can regularly (say every second or so) poll the CPC to see if its owner/wearer is still within range and hence on the bus. Lost connection means the owner/wearer has left the bus and can be charged accordingly – contactless touch-out. This information can also be used to give a more accurate picture of bus usage.

    The only problem, apart from the civil liberties aspects of CPCs or any public use use of RFI (radio frequency identification), is that the cards do not seem to be spreading that rapidly. Electronic payments systems globally seem to be being implemented much more rapidly on smartphones. Of course, mobile phone technology would have the same characteristics as those of CPCs that I’ve outlined.
    Wonder how long it is until TfL start to hedge their bets.

  299. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Just had it confirmed that the Heritage Routemaster routes 9 and 15 go cashless on 6 July too. I specifically asked TfL given these routes retain “real” conductors. However they will not accept contactless bank cards (as now) so only valid Oyster products and valid paper tickets on the 9H and 15H from Sunday. Therefore if you want a paper ticket issued by a conductor better get one on Saturday – end of an era.

  300. Anonymous says:

    Less than a week to go and very little visible publicity. I doubt that very much will happen on Sunday 6 July but expect some nasty scenes and delays from first thing on Monday.
    “What do you mean you don’t take cash? Are you taking the…….”

  301. timbeau says:

    I’ve seen posters up at several stops, and I am told that the message is being announced with montonous frequency on the buses themselves – but of course those announcments are unlikely to be heard by the occasional user or first-time visitor, who is the most likely to be affected.

    H15 won’t take bank cards or cash? There go many of the tourist users then. So how soon before the inevitable “no-one is using them” claim forces closure?

  302. Greg Tingey says:

    In fact, one suspects that it’s deliberate ……

  303. Anonymous says:

    @Pedantic of Purley 16 September 2013 at 17:01
    No, He lost his GLA seat over parking. The subsequent assault conviction cost him his Conservative Barnet council seat.

    @timbeau 30 June 2014 at 17:09
    The people this affects don’t necessarily notice or understand the posters. I’m talking about TV and radio adverts, national papers, mass marketing etc. Or are TfL just waiting for the first life threatening assault on a driver?

    Personally, my debit card isn’t contactless – I hope that the PAYG Oyster doesn’t break on a rainy day.

  304. Graham Feakins says:

    @answer=42 – “the cards do not seem to be spreading that rapidly”

    Did you mean that use of the cards for contactless payment is not spreading that rapidly or the cards themselves? I ask because my bank and credit card companies (2) all ‘automatically’ renewed my cards with contactless ones.

  305. answer=42 says:

    @Graham F
    There are apparently (according to English Wikipedia) some 32 million such cards in the UK (but not mine). Only South Korea is the other major user. In France (according to French Wikipedia ), the trade group for mobile payments, which seems to have started off by pushing contactless bank cards, contains no banks as members – only phone companies, technology companies and transport providers.

    Phone companies and internet search companies (Google, Facebook etc) are getting into mobile payments and mobile banking in a big way globally.

    Even TfL can’t shut the world out.

  306. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – to be fair bank cards have never been accepted on the Heritage routes since the cards started to be accepted on the bus network. My guess is that TfL cannot justify the purchase of new conductor machines for such a small scale operation.

  307. Ian J says:

    @Mike: there is still some touching-off on trams [in Melbourne]

    Note, however, that there are only two small stretches at the far end of tram routes that enter zone 2, and that these are all also in zone 1: it’s to ensure that the (very few) tram passengers travelling entirely in zone 2 weren’t disadvantaged by the change to a touch-on-only system. The fact remains that the original intention was to have all tram passengers both touch on and touch off, and that this was abandoned as unworkable in the busy areas of the system.

    @answer=42: Lost connection means the owner/wearer has left the bus and can be charged accordingly

    Or has put their card next to something magnetic, next to another wireless card or phone, which interferes with it, or… Any system relying on maintaining a constant radio connection is asking for trouble.

    Only South Korea is the other major user

    Not so. There are certainly millions of users in Singapore and Australia, for example.

    Mobile payment services like Google Wallet, on the other hand, have conspicuously failed to get much traction.

    @WW: isn’t heritage Route 9 being withdrawn soon anyway?. Cue outraged comment to the Daily Express from a bus enthusiast: “Unlike the Royal family you can meet, touch and ride on one”

  308. Fandroid says:

    Following the link to the Express I was intrigued to see a related article titled; ‘Jeremy Clarkson under fire for blowing up an iconic Routemaster bus’. Difficult to suppress a wry smile.

  309. timbeau says:

    According to the TfL report July 25th is the end of real Routemasters on route 9.

    Re Dr Clarkson’s little jape: here’s another Routemaster, in the Young Ones’ tribute to Cliff Richard

  310. answer=42 says:

    @Ian J
    Thank for the links. I followed the Singapore one, which tells me that 1.5 million Visa payWave cards have been issued in Singapore. Actual use seems to be quite low (despite the article’s presentation) but these are, of course, early days.

    I tried to do a little more digging and found a Visa article entitled Visa and Samsung Sign Global Alliance Agreement to Accelerate Mobile (NFC) Payments. This says that the Visa PayWave app will be available on Samsung phones. So Visa are hedging their technological bets.

    I’ll take your word for it that Google had a failure in mobile payments. But they will be back. And meanwhile, mobile phone companies are making the running in parts of the world.

    Incidentally, TfID or near field communications don’t require constant radio contact, just regular polling. (Imagine a satellite tracking an aeroplane, to take a recent sad but well-known example). If contact was lost, it would be a soft failure, since the user/wearer would be potentially charged less for his / her trip than justified.

  311. Anomnibus says:


    I laughed at the Routemaster fan’s unfounded assertion that “the public” unanimously loved them. I *hate* the bloody things and always have done.

    (Besides, since when was it normal to demand that private property be treated according to the dictates of a fan club? If there are 500 of the wretched machines still around, why would this one have been missed?)

  312. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anomnibus – didn’t you know that the removal of 5 RMs from public service is the equivalent of the end of civilisation as we know it? Someone complained, under a blog article about a visit to West Ham Garage, that the beloved RMs were kept *in the open* and not under cover. Where do you begin in dealing with that sort of “logic”?

    As you say there are hundreds of Routemasters in preservation and many more in use for private hire work. There are always opportunities to see them and ride on them. The same can be said about RTs. There seem to be more RTs in regular use nowadays than there were back in the 80s and 90s. I don’t begrudge anyone the chance to ride on an old bus if they want to and the preservation movement does a great job in preserving history but I don’t see such preservation of RMs as a key objective for TfL, the LT Museum – perhaps. Even Ensignbus, who have an excellent vintage fleet and spend considerable sums on restoring old vehicles, make sure the vehicles earn a living to recoup the investment and pay for their upkeep. I dare say some sentiment and enthusiasm is mixed in too.

  313. timbeau says:

    “since when was it normal to demand that private property be treated according to the dictates of a fan club? ”
    Since about 100 years ago: at least as far as buildings are concerned

    “If contact was lost, it would be a soft failure, since the user/wearer would be potentially charged less for his / her trip than justified.”
    Or could potentially be charged for several short trips, if contact is intermittent.

  314. Melvyn says:

    Reason given for withdrawal of real Routemasters on 9 is both financial cost of 2nd person and fact London now has wonderful, superb new bus for London (I think someone needs a white stick as too far gone for specsavers!) . As for cost of 2nd person so why buy hundreds of buses designed to need a 2nd person !

    Anyway many of these buses run nearly empty as they only cover part of the full route and perhaps would be best run by a bus company like the ones that run open top buses instead of TFL ?

    I’ve even heard buses going cashless announcement on underground trains !

  315. answer=42 says:

    “”“If contact was lost, it would be a soft failure, since the user/wearer would be potentially charged less for his / her trip than justified.”
    Or could potentially be charged for several short trips, if contact is intermittent.”

    No because
    a) the gaps in contact are likely to be a few seconds
    b) the system is by definition intelligent
    c) there would almost certainly be a time-based minimum before re-charging

    In fact, this is one of the advantages of contactless touch-out. You could introduce the time-based or distance-based tariffs, permitting changes of buses, that the thread has discussed above and found too difficult with current technology. This, I believe, is one of the reasons why TfL has trialled contactless technology on the buses.

  316. The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Orange says:

    I thought I was being careful about this but I had a card clash at the weekend after I dropped my debit card inside my Oyster wallet. I’d touched in the right way round with my travelcard nearest but I got an error message touching out. I’m minded to ask my bank for a clash-free card.

  317. Greg Tingey says:

    Keep them separate at all times …
    My geriatric’s pass lives in my top outside pocket
    My Oyster lives in the back-pocket of my diary, which is always kept in a different pocket.
    No problems – until, presumably my oyster fails, because I haven’t actually used it for over a year now …..

  318. Long Branch Mike (Sur le Métro) says:

    Question about heritage bus routes and route numbers – do route numbers 9H and 15H (alternately written here as H9/H15) denote official heritage bus routes? And are these alphanumeric route identifiers official?

  319. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @LBM – The “H” does not appear on publicity or on the vehicles or bus stops. However the “H” suffix is used by TfL for contract purposes, in statistics and on I-Bus for route management purposes (but not on public info displays). The Heritage Routes are separately contracted so have to be distinguished from the main routes. In similar vein the night element of 24 hour routes (e.g. the 24 or 111) are also separately contracted and measured for performance terms. What may be a high frequency route during the day is often low frequency for the Night Bus period and each route type has a different performance measurement regime. It is now often the case that the retendering of the day and night elements of a service is in the same tendering tranche e.g 38 and N38 or 24 and (night) 24. I can’t think of an example where the day and night services are with different operators. There are only a few unique night routes these days – N97, N550, N551 – where there is no obvious day time bus route that they shadow. While some night bus routes offer unique links in the bus network many fully shadow their day time equivalent and then run on a bit further to replace bits of the tube network (e.g. N38, N73, N207).

  320. timbeau says:

    Although there is little consistency, an “N” prefix is not always used where the night route is simply a longer (or shorter) version of the day route (for example route 65), but it is used when the night and day routes diverge: for example after Baker Street the day 18 continues along the Euston Road to Euston, but the N18 runs down Regent Street to Trafalgar Square.

  321. Long Branch Mike (Sur le Métro) says:

    @timbeau & WW

    Thank you for the ever excellent and concise, ie non-rambling or verbose, information.

  322. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – isn’t it the case the 65 is the sole exception where a day number is used for a night route which runs further than the day route? Strictly it should be the N65 if TfL were consistent.

  323. timbeau says:

    As the 65 is my local route I had no idea it was an anomaly.
    We do things differently down here!

  324. Ian J says:

    @Anomnibus: private property

    Aren’t the Routemasters owned by Transport for London, which would make them public property? Of course, if public money is being spent on them for purely sentimental reasons at a time of budget cuts then you’d have to question that. Though some might apply the same logic to the Royal Family…

    If the heritage Routemasters are basically there to look good in tourists’ photos, why not just make them free and have them funded by the (proposed) London tourist levy?

    @answer=42: b) the system is by definition intelligent

    I’ve heard that one before, usually when a Microsoft product tries to do something “intelligent” I don’t want it to. How does the system distinguish a person sitting on the bus from a person who happens to be standing (or walking, cycling) next to the bus within radio range?

  325. Greg Tingey says:

    Ian J & others
    the system is, by definition, intelligent
    It has (hopefully) been well-programmed, with a proper set of decision trees.
    The hard AI problem has not been solved, & there is presently, no prospect of a solution.
    In some, restricted cases, low-level forms of AI may be achieved, soon.
    Not blaming anyone on this blog, but the nomenclature is a result of very sloppy thinking, or the absence of any thinking & far too much advertising hype.

  326. Graham H says:

    @GT -the application of “intelligent” to motorway management systems is especially galling – the sheer cost and disruption of installing a sign every few km to tell you that the journey time to somewhere you are not going to is x, or else that there is a problem ahead that disappeared 3 hours ago, is annoying in the extreme. It’s a classic case of poor planning – satnavs are already rendering that whole investment otiose (not that they don’t have problems of their own but at least they cost less).

  327. Chris L says:

    The RMs withdrawn from the 9 are to allow a float to refurbish a number of buses for the 15.

    This work will see things like the hopper windows replaced with original winding windows.

    You can expect to see the existing ticket machines on the other buses in London replaced with card readers.

  328. Moosealot says:

    @GT & others
    Indeed. I have a M.Sc. in artificial intelligence and most of the first half term was about what intelligence isn’t. If a system does not learn or adapt and improve its performance on its own then it is not intelligent.

    Stuff that is intelligent is great fun to play with in a lab, but in terms of supporting it in a mass deployment: not so. In a scenario like that you want something that is well-designed but will consistently do the same thing given a particular set of inputs, i.e. is not remotely intelligent. Inevitably there will be corner-cases that nobody has thought of and — when they are discovered — a human programmer should deal with them as per the requirements of the specification and v1.1 of the software is released…

  329. Anonymous says:

    @Chris L 2 July 2014 at 10:00

    “This work will see things like the hopper windows replaced with original winding windows.”

    Beclawat Avon Mk X?

  330. Anonymous says:

    On second thoughts, do I mean Widney Ace? My memory is playing up.

  331. Anonymous says:

    Following sip of strong tea to reboot memory – definitely Widney Ace:

    on RT – Mk. VI
    on RM – Mk. X

    Widney also made the passenger hanging straps on tube stock up to 1972.

  332. Anomnibus says:

    @Ian J:

    “Aren’t the Routemasters owned by Transport for London, which would make them public property?”

    I would assume that Top Gear either (a) had written permission to blow the bus up, then, or that (b), the machine used was owned by a private collector. They do exist.

    Either way, Top Gear had the rights to do what they did. They’re all about ‘shock’ and controversy, but they’re also about not breaking the law, finely-polished videography, and a hell of a lot of planning. (Like so many fields, the team’s expertise is what makes it look effortless, despite that being far from the case. Despite appearances, Top Gear is a scripted show.)

  333. timbeau says:

    The fleet of 2,760 Routemasters (RM class) were built and operated by London Transport, a public body, but sold off to the private operators during the privatisation in the 1980s. Subsequently, many have been sold on to other operators (some of which operate on the heritage routes, enthusiasts, film companies, – and indeed scrap metal merchants.

    The LT class are owned by TfL: but none of them have been blown up for entertainment yet

  334. Ian J says:

    @stimarco, timbeau: I was talking about the Routemasters currently in service on the heritage routes, not the ones previously in “normal” service in London or any that may have been blown up by terrorists or whoever “top gear” are.

    According to this, “The Routemasters used are owned by TfL and are some of the ones that were refurbished by Marshall and fitted with Cummins engines in the 1990s. They are leased to Stagecoach, but occasionally Stagecoach will use heritage Routemasters that they own alongside the TfL ones.”

    So yes, they are (mostly) publically owned, like the New Routemasters but unlike most buses in London. Did TfL buy them back from the operators to operate the heritage service?

  335. Anomnibus says:

    @Ian J:

    I was responding to the criticism levelled at the “Top Gear” production team, who blew up an old bus (either an RT or RM; I can’t be bothered to look it up). The way they banged on about it, this act of televisual entertainment was an atrocity akin to bombing Coventry Cathedral.

    TfL own some heritage buses: specifically, those used by operators to provide heritage services in London. TfL do not own every old bus ever made.

  336. Anomnibus says:


    I have as much appreciation for pedantry as the next nerd, but even I know when to apply context. I was clearly referring to old buses, not buildings. (And it’s a bit of a stretch to claim that national and local councils count as “fan clubs”.)

  337. timbeau says:

    @Ian J

    Indeed, most RMs were sold off – the one in the picture in the link, RM1933, spent 14 years working in Scotland for Stagecoach.
    TfL does indeed own the Routemasters used on the heritage routes, and leases them to the operators. This practice started back in about 2000 , when a number were bought back after a decision was made to specify open-platform buses on some routes (e.g 13, 19). It is some of those buses which no operate the heritage routes.
    History of ev ery single Routemaster listed here.

    I think you missed the point – until the Ministry of Works (now English Heritage) was set up, an ancient monument like Stonehenge had no more protection than Clarkson’s Routemaster. There was indeed an outcry from the landed gentry at the idea that the Government could interfere in how they managed their property.

    What is the National Trust if not a “fan club” for old buildings?

  338. Anomnibus says:

    Re. “Artificial Intelligence”…

    There’s no such thing in IT today. At best, we have “Artificial Behaviour”—which is a more useful form for most applications anyway.

    “Big Blue”—IBM’s chess-playing program that beat a chess grandmaster a few years ago—isn’t “intelligent” either: it’s just really, really quick at analysing potential moves and countermoves many turns ahead.

    Genuine, self-learning artificial “intelligence” is still a long way off, despite the recent reporting of an AI passing the “Turing Test”.

    The Turing Test was designed years before modern cognition research, and has a number of fundamental flaws* as a result. Also, it turns out we already have perfectly adequate imitations of human-like intelligence. They’re called “humans”.

    * (The cognitive sciences show that fooling a human into thinking they’re talking another human using text only, and without any non-verbal cues, is actually not that difficult. It’s why so many people get frustrated with computers in the first place, but the same holds for almost any reasonably complex system. It’s the same reason why we give names to ships and project human traits onto teddy bears and similar toys. We know they’re not ‘real’, but that doesn’t stop us doing it.)

  339. Anomnibus says:


    “I think you missed the point – until the Ministry of Works (now English Heritage) was set up, an ancient monument like Stonehenge had no more protection than Clarkson’s Routemaster.”

    I’m well aware of the reasons behind these systems. I was merely pointing out that (a) an tatty old bus is not a “monument”, and thus, (b) cannot be “Listed”. In the context of my original post, the “private property” I was referring to was clearly the bus, not a building. Hence my point about pedantry and context.

    “Top Gear” have also received similar complaints from caravan owners and (if memory serves) MG fan clubs too, for similarly cavalier treatment of examples of their preferred machines.

  340. Anonymous says:

    The Top Gear bus (RML 2513) was blown up more than 5 years ago – hardly news.

  341. Anonymous says:

    Great article, but I wonder if getting rid of cash is linked to the obsessive (and endless) desires of our wonderful intelligence services to track all our movements. I know its perhaps a bit off-message to even suggest it here, but TfLwould never admit to this being suggested to them would they, so what I am suggesting here is a hunch more than anything else, but when we read of the new surveillance bill gooing through the HoC, it certainly appears to more of a coincidence. Maybe we’ll find out either way in 30 years time. Certainly Mr Johnson would chuckle at the suggestion.

    Emergency surveillance bill to be fast-tracked despite 49 MPs’ opposition

  342. Malcolm says:

    An ingenious attempt (perhaps unintended) at hijacking the thread for something completely different.

    But it should be noted that so long as Oysters can be bought and not registered, their hypothetical (ab)use for surveillance is a complete non-issue.

  343. Mike says:

    Melvyn – it’s a non-issue if the card and any topup are paid for anonymously, ie in cash. But do anything with a card, a phone or a computer and doubtless an unregistered card can be traced…

  344. Anonymous says:

    Cashless on buses had to come eventually but I think it should have waited until contactless cards were accepted on the whole TFL network and also after the 24 hour tube is introduced (it means those after a night out in Central London can then pop to the tube station to get a ticket if they have no contactless card or Oyster but do have a regular card or cash).

    I wonder if those who try and pay cash on night buses don’t realise their one day travel card is still valid? I know in Edinburgh special fares apply on the N-buses and a regular day pass won’t do it.

    I still think the buses in London are the easiest to use in the UK and beat most other countries too. Go to a bus stop elsewhere in the UK and you have to work out what the fare is, whether it’s exact change only, if you buy a day ticket will all the buses you need in the city be operated by the same company? In London, it’s simple, get an Oyster and you can’t go wrong. That’s the advice they need to give in all the guidebooks. It’ll be even simpler when contactless payments get rolled out to all TFL modes. Once it is rolled out TFL are promising both weekly and daily capping.

    My main worry about contactless is the Routemaster. They’re already scrapping the 9 even though most in the public consultation wanted to keep it. Contactless may also kill off the 15 heritage route. Once contactless gets rolled out the advice for tourists could change. If your credit card opens the tube barrier you no longer need an Oyster. This would mean a whole load of tourists not able to ride this bus.

  345. Ian J says:

    @Anonymous 02:04: Contactless may also kill off the 15 heritage route.

    Perhaps (and the opposite of my suggestion above of making them free), TfL could go down the San Francisco cable car route and charge a hefty cash fare for the heritage Routemasters (with a nice “heritage” ticket issued by an old-style machine, perhaps?) The SF cable cars are $6 a ride. Weekly bus passes etc could be accepted for the benefit of non-tourists who just want to get from A to B.

    Just as an aside: the fact that most in the public consultation wanted to keep the Routemaster 9 is not itself a good argument to keep it, since I bet most who responded were bus enthusiasts. If you want to know public opinion commission a poll or a focus group with a weighted sample (or take the policy to an election!); if you want the self-serving views of a tiny minority, hold a consultation (see also: Congestion Charge Western Zone, Thameslink Wimbledon loop).

  346. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ian J – you can’t pay a cash fare on the Heritage Routemaster routes now so no chance of charging an even higher fare. Nor can you pay with a contactless bank card. I happened to catch a 9H the other day having let a NB4L go. A rather grand elderly lady had the same idea and she was quite clear that the Routemaster was much more comfortable than “the new bus”. I doubt she was an enthusiast but she knew what she preferred. I gave her the bad news that she only had a fortnight left of using Routemasters on the 9.

    We have, of course, had RMs on the sightseeing routes years ago but they were all pensioned off after a few years ago so mainstream sightseeing work is unlikely to be an option for further use. Obviously there are niche tours that do use RMs but the big operators all run high capacity sightseeing buses to cram in the most people per crew. I dread to think how much money Arriva and Big Bus Company make at the height of the season given tour tickets are nearly £30 per person.

  347. Kit Green says:

    o/t but there were three “Big Bus Washington DC” vehicles on the quayside at Southampton Docks last Saturday.

  348. Greg Tingey says:

    Those non-TfL “Sightseeing” buses are a permanent traffic blockage.
    They’e a damn nuisance, & not just in London.
    Oxford & Cambridge have these road-hogging pests as well.
    I think their licences should be revoked, to ease traffic flow …..

  349. LadyBracknell says:

    I have been using a contactless card for a few months now on the buses. It scores over the Oyster in that it does not need to be topped up. The downside though is there does not appear to be a daily cap in operation.

    I find it difficult to believe the figure of £24 million that TfL claimed as the cost of banking. How much is it going to lose in fare evasion as more and more ‘Boris buses’ come into operation and the consequent need for more ticket inspectors?

  350. Castlebar (Restore cash payment availability for women on London buses after 7 p.m.) says:

    @ LB

    Agreed. I don’t think it has been very well thought out and looks more like a piece of political ideology that had to be brought in irrespective of any considerations,

    What properly run business refuses payments?

    I look forward to the next big rugby matches at Twickenham or big events at Wembley. I wouldn’t like to order a dozen Scottish rugby fans off a bus, but I’d like to see Boris do it.

  351. Southern Heights (Low lands explorer) says:

    @Castlebar, LadyBracknell: It’s not the cost for TfL that are killing cash on buses, if you are a business, banks charge you to deposit cash.

    Not entirely nuts, there’s a lot of admin, risk of robberies, transport and possible fraud…. As a consumer we’re not important enough, so we get away with it (just wait though)…

  352. Castlebar (Restore cash payment availability for women on London buses after 7 p.m.) says:

    @ LadyB @ 19:35

    I also find it difficult to believe the figure of £24 million that TfL claimed as the cost of banking.

    If it costs so much, it sounds as if:

    a) it seems a highly inefficient system and would benefit from being re-organised with fewer snouts involved. It sounds like the same accountancy system that BR once used to justify line closures.


    b) An incredibly high sum of money must have been collected in fares, so, “How much?”

  353. Malcolm says:

    @LadyBracknell (the line is immaterial)

    We cannot easily check up on the £24m figure, but it seems of the right order of magnitude to me.

    There is no logical connection between fare evasion and the type of fare evaded (paying cash/furnishing an Oyster card). A fare will always be evaded if the passenger’s conscience, the passenger’s fear of being caught, and the operator’s checks all fail to prevent evasion.

  354. Graham H says:

    @Lady Bracknell and Castlebar – well, it used to cost NSE alone £55m pa to handle cash. We even gave some thought to teaming up with big “cash out” businesses such as the Post Office at selected stations so that the punters, not Securicor, carried the cash away for us.

  355. When I was at Oxford booking office many years ago we had to buy our change from the bank who charged £1.01 for £1 change. We actually had Securicor delivering money to the station but I think that was more down to the weight than the value. We treated a £250 delivery of change like others would have treated having the milk delivered.

    I also know that when on Southern signal boxes caused a real problem with cash. Normally those who were paid cash (like railmen) were paid out of takings. This wasn’t generally a problem for stations but a large signal box could create a large weekly wage bill and signal boxes weren’t always located near a station that collected a lot of ticket payments in cash. I think Blackfriars was a particular problem. The signal box was large and manned (it was invariably men) 24 hours a day. Blackfriars station might have processed a lot of cheques but didn’t generate much cash. Normally that wouldn’t be a problem. There would be other stations on a station manager’s patch. I don’t think Elephant & Castle contributed much and I have done shifts at Loughborough Junction in the booking office where the total takings (never mind the cash portion) did not cover the direct cost of employing me for that shift. Though of course as a clerk I would be paid direct into my bank account.

  356. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Lady Bracknell and others – I don’t believe TfL have ever said the £24m equates to the banking cost. It is the eventual annual saving that TfL will accrue from reducing the obligations on the bus operators to sell cash tickets on buses with all of the related floats, cashing up time, coin counting machines, banking, accounting, cash collection at depots and then the subsequent process costs within TfL. The savings do not accrue immediately because TfL simply can’t renegotiate 800+plus bus contracts in one go. I imagine recently let contracts will have a variation clause to remove cash fares from operator obligations but older contracts won’t. Any contracts starting post 6 July 2014 should already incorporate the savings. Therefore as routes are retendered on the new basis the related costs will be stripped out. Note in the quote below that net savings only accrue to TfL from 2016/17.

    This quote is from the TfL consultation report.

    “The cost of collecting such low levels of cash is high. It includes the additional cost in contracts with operators, on-bus kit maintenance and replacement ticket
    machines. We would make net savings from 2016/17, building to around £24m a year from 2019/20 onwards, which could be reinvested into the transport network for the benefit of everyone.”

    I guess it is up the reader as to whether they believe the numbers are not!

  357. Reynolds 953 says:

    @Castlebar The RFU already cater for Scottish rugby fans going to internationals at Twickenham. They run a free shuttle bus service between Richmond and Twickenham for all the big games!

  358. Greg Tingey says:

    ONLY £250 cash?
    I will never forget the year Battersea Beer Festival’s local bank hadn’t told us they were shut for refurbishment during that week!
    I had to go to Wandsworth with £3k in notes in my rucksack …. and bring the same amount back … in coin [ 50p’s & £1’s, actually] Weighed quite a bit, I can tell you.

  359. Anonymous says:

    @ Walthamstow Writer 24th June 18.44

    ‘I personally can’t see Potters Bar or Staines being plunged into chaos just because TfL buses go cashless. ‘

    To read the front page of the latest Dorking Advertiser – the local weekly rag – you would think that at least Dorking has been plunged into chaos by the move to cashless collection of fares! The web page version is much more restrained. The paper quotes the nearest TfL ticket outlet as Leatherhead.

  360. Greg Tingey says:

    That’s the point.
    You want to catch the TfL bus in Dorking & either you haven’t got an Oyster/contactless card, or your Oyster has run out.
    Now what do you do?

  361. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon – yes the situation in Dorking and Box Hill is daft. I can only assume TfL have been unable to attract anyone to take on Oyster Ticket Stop business. I have pointed out several times that TfL needed to make sure these outer reaches of their empire were not left without facilities. Staines and Potters Bar do have reasonable numbers of Ticket Stops plus there are others on the bus routes that run in to those places. Having googled the local Dorking paper I see that TfL say they are in discussions with a potential agent.

  362. Melvyn says:

    Re contact less payment cards is how widespread is their usage outside the UK and are those issued in say EU or USA compatible for use on TFL ? One then has question of how fare translates into different currencies ?

    As for ticket stops is it time for TFL to be more adventurous like the Lottery and have top up facilities in supermarkets both large and local stores alongside lottery machines ?

    Of course if you feel like your getting ” cash withdrawal syndrome!” You could use the 812 between Angel and Hoxton which does not accept TFL Oyster cards but does accept cash on behalf of Hackney Community Transport . Fortunately it accepts freedom passes given that’s its main user base !

    Perhaps the next move needs to be removal of cash from stations and so lower fares for payment using a card to pay for oyster top ups ?

    Well it does seem odd how if you use cash to top up oyster and thus all the extra costs of cash handling you get no discount if you use a debit/credit card .

    Wonder what the equivalent of the £24 million in handling cash on buses is for underground and overground ?

    Will Tramlink go cashless next ?

  363. Moosealot says:

    The cheapest method of collecting money is normally direct debit, followed by debit card. Credit cards are more expensive. If TfL wanted to encourage people to auto-top-up – effectively giving them a permanent free line of credit – a small bonus applied to the account could be enough to encourage the switch and pay for itself over the cost of maintaining top-up machines and processing cash/credit card transactions. Auto-top-up £40, get £41 credited.

  364. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – I am sure that topping up in supermarkets has been investigated but the supermarkets will want to earn far more commission that TfL are prepared to pay. They also won’t want the training overhead of teaching their staff about Travelcards and PAYG and all the other detail of TfL’s ticketing range. It doesn’t make financial sense and never will do because TfL have been trying to reduce commission payments not increase them!

    There aren’t going to be reduced fares as a result of cost saving initiatives. Fares will always go up and up under the current TfL planning assumptions. Even if we get a new Mayor in 2016 I expect TfL will argue that it needs an ever increasing base level of revenue to fund operations and to meet its debt and interest commitments in future years. There is also a specific Crossrail funding obligation where part of farebox revenues pay back part of the construction cost. This makes it very hard for a Mayor to cut fares in the future unless the Council Tax precept goes up substantially.

    I think removal of cash payment from the rail and tram network is a step too far. We need to see how well contactless bank card acceptance works when it is rolled out in a few weeks time and how the public take to it. We also then need to understand the implications for Oyster too. I think LU has to get past the introduction of its revised staffing regime before the next revolutionary change is made.

  365. AlisonW says:

    Melvyn: Trams are *already* cashless, as are the tube, overground and DLR. It was only on buses where you previously could get onto the transport service without already having in your possession a valid authority to travel (aka. ‘ticket’, for most people)

  366. Ian J says:

    @AlisonW: It was only on buses where you previously could get onto the transport service without already having in your possession a valid authority to travel

    True, but it is only buses that do not have at least a ticket machine at every stop.

  367. Chris L says:

    The Metroline buses between Barnet & Potters Bar do not accept Oyster outside the TfL area and cash is accepted.

    The buses are being painted in a different livery too.

  368. Anonymous says:

    @Chris L 23 July 2014 at 16:25

    According to the Metroline website:

    1. Routes 84 and 242

    Metroline operate two commercial bus routes from our depot in Potters Bar with a dedicated team of drivers at your service. These are routes 84 & 242. Unfortunately as these routes are non TfL, Oyster Cards are not valid.
    We accept valid London Council and ENCTS concessionary OAP travel passes.

    2. Cash Fares – Summer 2014
    Cash payments on Transport for London (TfL) buses are no longer accepted
    Metroline routes 84 & 242 are commercial operations and are not affected!

    We will continue to accept cash payments on these routes for the forseeable future!

  369. Castlebar (Ruislip Chord & FCUK LU) says:

    @ Anonymous

    As they will still collect cash fares on those two routes, it would be very interesting to know exactly how much

  370. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Castlebar – As the routes are commercial ventures I would not expect Metroline to say anything about the level of revenue on those routes. To be strictly accurate the 242 is part commercial – evening and Sunday journeys are tendered by Herts CC. Metroline are also offer a short hop cash fare on the 84 in the Barnet area but there is only the 399 which part parallels the 84 anyway. The 399 only runs about 4-5 jnys M-S so hardly the busiest bus in TfL’s empire (only 12.5k pax last year)!

  371. Anon5 says:

    At present Tramlink is card-less… Bank card that is. The ticket machines only accept cash. I don’t know if TfL plans to upgrade them as it did with the ticket machines at the former Southern stations now operated by Overground, or whether it will keep them as it is to encourage auto-top up whether that be for Oyster or contactless. They’re certainly of an older variety with dials rather than touch screen. I once made the mistake of thinking I could ‘jump’ the long Oyster queues for Beckenham Junction train station’s ticket machines by walking to the tram stop instead. Lesson learnt! (Incidentally the Southeastern ticket clerk was sat twiddling his thumbs because they no longer issue Oyster fares…)

  372. Anon5 says:

    BBC London’s Tom Edwards tweets:

    @BBCTomEdwards: Tfl to introduce contactless bank card payments on tube / DLR / overground Sept 16th. Include auto daily & weekly caps. 1/3

    @BBCTomEdwards: TfL & National Rail continue to work to expand the system to the suburban rail routes where Oyster is currently accepted.

    @BBCTomEdwards: Tfl services go card contactless Sept 17th. Oyster still accepted but beginning of the end for paper ticket. Follows successful trial 3/3

    @BBCTomEdwards: Tfl services go card contactless Sept 17th. Oyster still accepted but beginning of the end for paper ticket. Follows successful trial 3/3

    @BBCTomEdwards: Press release on contactless card payments on tfl services being introduced Sept 16th

  373. timbeau says:

    @WW July 16th
    “I don’t believe TfL have ever said the £24m equates to the banking cost. It is the eventual annual saving that TfL will accrue from reducing the obligations on the bus operators to sell cash tickets on buses with all of the related floats, cashing up time, coin counting machines, banking, accounting, cash collection at depots and then the subsequent process costs within TfL.”
    The mayor’s decision is published here
    and includes a spreadsheet showing the projected costs and savings. As you suggest, the biggest figure is the reduction in contract values paid to operators for not having to handle cash.

  374. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – thanks for digging that out. Two interesting numbers there – one that shows an asset refresh saving for bus ETMs in 2015/16 suggesting a replacement project in that year. The second one is the near £10m full year revenue loss from replacing cash payers with card payment in 2015/16. The surprising aspect with the second number is that the loss peaks a year after the change – I’d have expected it to peak in the current financial year and then decline rapidly.

  375. MikeP says:

    @WW – Ah, the “Asset refresh saving”. I remember that one. It’s a bit of a notional saving. “Look, we planned to have to replace the wheelie bins after 10 years, but they’re good for 15, so we’ve got this capital budget we can reallocate this year.”
    The similarity to “look how much we saved when we bought this” wasn’t lost on me.

    Got an email from TfL just now inviting me to join their contactless payment pilot. No Gold Card discount, though (as we all knew), so I won’t be playing.

  376. timbeau says:

    I didn’t have to dig far – they sent me the link when I asked what the projected revenue loss would be.

    The rate of revenue loss does not really peak in 2015/16 – remember we are already 1/4 of the way through FY 2014/15, so pro rata the annual revenue loss for this year would have been £10m: more – admittedly only slightly more – than for 2015/16.

  377. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Mike P – and today TfL has announced (I think!) that acceptance of contactless bank cards will be extended to Tube, DLR, Tramlink and London Overground services from 16 September. Also daily capping and Monday to Sunday weekly capping will be introduced for those using bank cards. The media coverage has been dire and I suspect that their press release was not terribly clear. There were initial reports that buses were not included in the capping process and trams were not even mentioned. I think the public press release does say all TfL controlled services are in the scheme from September but it’s not 100% clear.

    The only element that isn’t in the scheme are all TOC services within the zones. Goodness knows why given all the relevant services are in the CBC trial! Based on twitter comments it seems that TOCs have only agreed to take part in the trial but not the substantive roll out.

  378. LadyBracknell says:

    I hope we don’t have to wait too long for National Rail to join the scheme. I use the bus a lot because I no longer have to be anyway in a hurry, but my nearest station is a seven minute walk whereas I have to take a bus to inter-connect with London Overground or the tram.

  379. Greg Tingey says:

    I got a shock this afternoon.
    I was waiting in hospital for The Boss to be discharged ( Emergency Appendectomy – just in time! ) and the lady opposite said she had just found out that buses didn’t take money any more & you what?
    She lives in Redbridge, so in GLA area, but DID NOT HAVE AN OYSTER CARD (I nearly fell down) Almost, but not quite old enough for a Londoners’ Free pass, & although registered disabled ( Blue-badge holder for her car) didn’t seem to have even heard of disabled persons’ London Passes.

    [ Thanks to the above full discussion, I was able to partially enlighten her …. ]

  380. Melvyn says:

    Please see link below to TFL site which gives detailed announcement of contactless payments –

    The link also contains a further link to fuller details of contactless payments including a video.

    We are told that buses have gone cashless due to the cost of bus companies collecting cash on buses.

    It would have been useful to know what the cost of system using RTMS at bus stops was in comparison and whether RTMS possibly adapted to allow top up of Oyster cards would have cost if located at bus stations and major bus stops like Angel Islington, elephant and castle, etc.

  381. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – if you want to know whether roadside ticket machines, adapted for Oyster, were considered by TfL you could simply submit a freedom of information request and ask them. It is a really thrilling process – not!

  382. Melvyn says:

    I have checked Metroline site re routes 84 and 242 and have attached a link –

    It seems children over 5 will now have to pay on route 84 .

    today’s ES has some letters re this announcement with question as to how ticket inspectors will check if you have paid . So I take it their machines used to check Oyster cards will also be able to read contactless payment cards ?

  383. Malcolm says:

    @Melvyn: it does not follow that inspectors’ machines will be able to “read” contactless payment cards in the sense of interrogating either the card data or (worse) the card’s bank’s computer. There would be all sorts of privacy and security issues here.

    What the inspector’s machines will need to be able to do is to acquire the card number (presumably contactlessly but could in principle be by reading the magnetic strip or the chip), and verify (electronically) that that card number appears on a list of recently presented cards which the inspector has just downloaded from the driver’s equipment (when the inspector boarded the bus).

  384. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – we have covered Metroline’s commercial routes already. There’s no need to repeat things when there’s scarcely any relevance in the first place. There are several cross border routes which will still accept cash – e.g. in Uxbridge, Heathrow, Kingston, Orpington and Bromley.

    @ Melvyn / Malcolm – for bus checks Malcolm is nearly right. The inspector is given a print out of relevant info from the driver’s ticket machine of any bank cards used for travel on the current journey. The inspectors use that list to check any bank cards against if a CBC is presented as proof of travel. I’ve only seen inspectors do this once but that just reflects the low number of checks I encounter. As for what will happen on the rail network then I’ve no idea. I doubt TfL will be widely advertising whatever controls it has devised!

  385. Anonymous says:

    So the Tory administration at the GLA has sorted out their banker friends some new business – contactless cards. I love the way TfL say it’ll “save” them £80 over 5 years – why just tell us how much they’ll save in one? For sure its the end of paper tickets, and maybe even Oyster cards in the longterm. All this talk in the press about never having to “top up” – the poorest people go “overdrawn”, so they won’t be getting on any form of public transport in the future, especially if they forgot their oyster card. I wish we could have the option of using all three (cash, oyster, contactless). Why not? TfL waste huge sums of money in some areas compared to what they claim where either the costs of maintaining cash fares or keeping ticket offices open. It seems we are one a one-way street towards no-cash on public transport in London. And what if the banks computers go down – everyone travels for free?

  386. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 0021 – The £80m over 5 years will undoubtedly build up over time with differing values per year as take up of contactless cards increases. It’s simpler in presentation terms to quote over a time period rather than give a phasing.

    On your final point about bank computers failing. Well why would that mean people travel free? There is no real time payment transaction involving money. The CBC records a zero value transaction when used at a gate. The daily cost of travel is calculated overnight based on all of the CBC transactions recorded at gates, validators and bus / tram readers being sent to the TfL “back room system” and then TfL requests payment from the bank for each CBC holder’s account. Therefore travel should not be affected all. If the computers fail at TfL or the banks then the calculation and payment transfer processes will presumably be delayed until such time as service is restored. Card readers will carry on working regardless and can do so even if the link between the station and the centre fails for some reason [1]. AIUI it’s not the same as cash machines failing or card readers at tills not being able to get payment authorisation from the central computer.

    If readers fail at a station then TfL know about that and if you end with an incomplete journey it’s clear from today’s info that people will be able to log on to the Oyster website to see your transactions and you can tell TfL how to “fill in” any gaps in the transaction info. If there is a regular journey pattern then the system may auto complete any missing transactions. This has happened to those taking part in the trial.

    [1] I’m out of date with respect to the comms network so it may be the case that each station has two independent links to the central systems so that card hotlists and system config / parameter changes can always be enacted.

  387. Anonymous says:

    You have not noticed the other Anonymous’s comment regarding people who might need to make the occasional bus journey but cannot guarantee that there will be sufficient funds in a bank account at a given time to cover a fare. There are also banks who won’t issue contactless cards to their less wealthy customers, basic account customers or at all. Because the bank is only informed after journeys have been completed, it is possible for the passenger to incur an unauthorised overdraft on their bank account.

    These people could always previously set aside a few coins. Now their options are:

    1. get an Oyster , tying up £5 deposit before they start.

    2. get a prepaid debit card _

    a) Are these even available with contactless chip? I’ve not seen this advertised.
    b) Did you know that these have a fee of anything up to £1.50 per transaction. They are not issued with multiple low value transactions in mind.

    The long term effect of cashless will be to force the poorest members of society off public transport.

    As a separate point, I am curious how contactless card bearing passengers, who had paid before being turfed off a short working caused by bus breakdown, passenger illness or late running, will be able to prove it to the inspector on the following bus.

    The inspector cannot see a ticket, there is no Oyster to interrogate and they can’t read the contactless card.

    You were surprised? There must be tens of thousands of occasional passengers who have never learned about Oyster and suchlike. As for disabled persons, if you don’t know anyone who has a pass already, you won’t know what to look for. I’ll bet that the lady you met doesn’t use a computer much.

  388. IslandDweller says:

    @ Annonymous at 0258.
    If the bus breaks down / terminates short, you ask the driver for a ‘transfer ticket’. It a very inadequately advertised process. Happened to me last week – in a piece of (cue Victor Meldrew voice “I don’t believe it”) my one-hop bus journey became three. First bus conked out in the heat. Transferred, went a half mile, then second bus stopped short by control. Grrrr.

  389. Greg Tingey says:

    READ TODAY’S POST BY “Diamond Geezer”.
    Highly informative – including his comments.

  390. Anonymous says:

    IslandDweller 26 July 2014 at 09:05

    Now that buses are cashless, for how long will a paper ticket facility be available?

  391. Fandroid says:

    I suspect that cash-accepting ticket machines at Tube stations will be with us for some time. To at least partly overcome the problems of cardless people getting on buses, those machines could be adapted to sell single bus tickets. Those could have a validity of say 7 days, and simply be given to the bus driver when boarding. Not a lot of good if you live in southeast London, but you can’t win ’em all!

  392. Anon5 says:

    Anonymous 02:58 – If a bus inspector boards a bus and I tell her or him that I boarded after a previous service broke down or was turned short but they don’t believe me, I’d imagine they’d ask the driver or phone control for clarification. If 20 people say the same thing it’s unlikely the inspector will feel the need to do so. In fact with modern technology (ie smartphones) it wouldn’t be that hard for inspectors to have information on all buses on a route at their fingertips already. Eg; Bus A on route 1 has completed its full route / turned short / broke down / delayed by ten minutes / five bus stops behind schedule. If I can see a bus that’s due at my stop in five minutes has disappeared from my iPhone screen I’m sure TfL can tell inspectors on a route that a bus has broken down so expect the next bus to be half full of transfer passengers. I’m sure they can also tell other drivers on the route to expect transferees.

  393. Anonymous says:

    Re. paper tickets – they are going to be around for a long time as a lot of people still get one day and weekly travelcards (including from National Rail stations well away from the GLA area) and they aren’t going to be replaced by electronic cards in the near future, or am I missing something?

  394. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 0258 – it is not complusory to comment on every aspect of a post. I opted not to comment because we cannot solve society’s ills (real or perceived) on this blog. I have seen your comments about cashless buses repeated umpteen times over various blogs in the last few weeks. I see no reason to say anything further because I can’t reverse the policy nor can I change the welfare system or remove poverty from society however desirable that may be.

  395. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 1052 – I fear you may have missed something. The Fares Revision briefing papers that Boris has recently made public show there is a TfL policy to remove paper ticketing from TfL within a few years. There is also an emerging policy for the same thing to happen on the National Rail network. I think the lack of a central body for the rail network, like the old British Rail Board, will make it extremely hard to deliver a coherent paperless system on the main line network. Look at the glacial rate of progress in getting ITSO spec ticketing rolled out.

    Of course if paper tickets are no longer issued by TfL we could get into the “well dear TOCs you will need to pay us to maintain our ticket gates because only you issue magnetic stripe tickets” argument from TfL! That’ll be a nice bunfight if it ever materialises. In the bad old days of state organisations LT and BR developed the Underground Ticketing System and APTIS to give a common ticket standard and the ability for through tickets across London to be issued nationwide. Try doing that sort of thing today!

    The Dutch rail network recently went completely smart with disposable smart tickets used for single or day tickets but with most people having a OV Chipkaart smartcard for travel. The gates can also read bar codes on foreign issued tickets or print at home paper tickets. That provides a form of model for the UK but we have so many rural lines and unstaffed stations that there will always be some form of on train ticket selling. I’m unclear how the Dutch cope on their rural lines.

  396. Theban says:


    We came close to needing to go to A&E one evening last week. No problem – we could get a bus there door to door. But with only one fare on Oyster we would have been unable to get back and no way of topping up anywhere near the hospital in the evening.

  397. Greg Tingey says:

    That points to a new requirement, now cash fares are ended.
    Compulsory (on TfL) to provide Oyster top-up machines at all major hospitals – which are usually served by multiple bus-routes, after all.
    Now, how to get this one rolling?
    Write to Assembly members, go for publicity (how?) ….

  398. Rational Plan says:

    Seen two different treatment of travellers at Heathrow so far. One young lad in faltering English asking if he could buy a ticket on board. tried to redirect to the Heathrow express ticket desk (oysters can bought there in T5), he did not understand so bus driver waved him on. Meanwhile over day family of four with full luggage try to get on and told they could not pay cash, so father announced to wife ‘we’re gonna have to catch a cab’ so no one bothered to tell them they could buy Oysters inside.

    But I suppose I see a lot of this as the 350 goes to West Drayton station. But I’d say I see at least one person attempt to pay cash every other journey. The 423 runs the full length of the A4 and most of that is in the fare free zone and so picks up most of the hotel users. Most tourists on the 350 get off before the free fare zone finishes as well.

  399. Fandroid says:

    The National Express desk at Heathrow T5 sells National Rail tickets so I imagine the incoming passenger could buy a 1 day Travelcard and use that on the buses. However, none of this knowledge is made easily available to anyone.

  400. Melvyn says:

    It’s hardly surprising to find that new comers don’t know cash is not accepted given way Boris removed the yellow bus stops and even notice that cash no accepted .

    I know the yellow stops only covered a small area of London but now there is nothing permanently shown on bus stops or the outside of buses to show cash is not taken !

    Of course we got where we are because of incompetence or deliberate policy (??!) of Boris who firstly abolished 1 day bus pass and retained cash single when he should have retained day ticket and abolished cash single.

    Boris then consulted on removal of RTMS on basis fares could still be paid on the bus !

    Some have suggested selling prepaid tickets but remember the car nets Mayor Ken sold for buses which soon ended up with massive counterfeit operation !

    One could ask why system of using contactless cards to tap in has been chosen over one where one can use it to purchase tickets from station ticket machines just like with ordinary credit/ debit cards this allowing purchase of all ticket types be they single or Travelcards. Someone might have even made 1 day bus pass available from station ticket machines !

    As for national railways well Southern is now developing its KEY card which is ITSO compliant and gradually entering London with possibility of soon boarding a bus in Brighton , changing to a train and then onto TFL in London with same card. And with recent TSGN franchise announcement expansion to Thameslink and great Northern seems likely.

    The creation of the overground also complicates things as passengers in South East London board both overground and Southern trains so its up to DFT to sort out TOCs re contactless payments .

  401. T33 says:

    Question – I live just outside London. My daughter who is 16 (thus old enough to travel on her own ) is visiting a friend in Carshalton which she does a couple of times a year, We have no Oyster cards as we don’t live in London and also she is not thus entitled to the scheme for school age children as we live outside London. She does not have a contactless card.

    She will need to pay for a single bus fare from Purley to Carshalton, then a return two days later. Previously this has been done with cash.

    How is she supposed to do it?

  402. Mark Townend says:

    @Fandroid, 26 July 2014 at 09:34

    Selling paper bus tickets for cash at tube ticket windows and machines is a good solution as the problem of not having an oyster card to top up and use is mainly faced by those who don’t live in London or regularly travel there, and most of them arrive by some sort of public transport so are passing through stations anyway. Alternatively and more usefully the cards could once again be issued free at those same stations, perhaps if at the same time you purchase a credit of at least the value of a single bus journey. To help avoid the alleged wastage this caused at the beginning, there could be collection boxes at station and on buses for unused cards so they can be recycled back into use, or people could just pass on an unregistered card no longer needed to another traveller with whatever credit is left on it (whether or not there’s payment between the individuals associated with this is not important and should be revenue neutral unless there’s a vast amount of credit sitting on cards which are never again used, which I doubt).

  403. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ T33 – it is perfectly possible for a parent to apply for a Zip (i.e. child / student) Oyster Card on behalf of their children. This is not constrained by needing to live in London. I’ve no idea when your daughter wishes to travel but if it’s a few weeks away then check out

    to see which card is needed. The application process is a bit involved but that’s because a concession is involved and the card has to be personalised to the applicant. She would keep that card until her sixteenth birthday.

    Alternatively your daughter should be able to buy an adult Oyster card in Purley and add some value to allow her to travel. I’m assuming she’s competent enough to do that. There are 4 Oyster Ticket Stops in Purley, 1 in Reedham and 2 in Coulsdon.

    I appreciate this is a faff but it’s one that millions of people manage to cope with.

    I was on the night buses last night and saw no issues over cash payment although obviously that’s a tiny sample. I did see a young lady unable to board a local bus today as she apparently only had cash. I do think bus drivers overly concentrate on Oyster as the only option – the driver made no mention of contactless debit or credit cards being acceptable despite the woman opening a huge wallet / purse with loads of cards in it.

  404. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – it’s not a new requirement on TfL. Many people only rarely visit hospitals – usually due to some emergency. This was cited by the Stagecoach London MD during sessions for the London Assembly’s bus report. This lack of a consistent regular flow makes it really quite hard to justify diverting buses off main roads to meander round hospital access roads to eventually stop somewhere in the grounds that may be relatively inconvenient for the hospital entrance and / or major departments at the hospital. TfL does serve a number of hospitals but they are often awkward places to access properly. Two live examples are the old perennial of trying to serve Darent Valley Hospital with route 96 and Andrew Dismore’s ongoing rage with Boris about diverting a bus to serve Finchley Memorial Hospital. That one has only been going on for about 6 months worth of Mayor’s Questions.

    There is nothing to stop the people who run the shops in hospitals becoming Oyster ticket stops but I rather suspect the tiny number of people who’d fall into the category of needing to add value to an Oyster card at a hospital would not provide a viable business opportunity. Theban did not specify what monetary balance there was on the Oyster card but provided it was £1.46 or higher then it was perfectly possible to make a round trip because the card can go negative on the return trip. I accept that if the balance was £1.45 or less then there would be an issue for the return journey.

    I rather feel hell will freeze over long before TfL install ticket machines in hospitals or at roadside locations. The economics will never make sense and there is no discretionary cash for whimsies like this.

  405. Greg Tingey says:

    so its up to DFT to sort out TOCs re contactless payments .
    Oh, you witty humorist & jokester!

    Buy an Oyster for occasional use, is how she is supposed to do it.
    I know people who live in Tenterden & Biggleswade & Woking who all have Oysters for this very purpose.

    People who say “Hell will freeze over” have obviously never read the travel-guide written by the only person to visit – one Dante Aligheri

  406. timbeau says:

    “it is perfectly possible for a parent to apply for a Zip (i.e. child / student) Oyster Card on behalf of their children. This is not constrained by needing to live in London.”

    Oh yes it is! Note the young lady is 16:
    From the website,
    “You may be eligible for a 16+ Zip Oyster photocard. This card allows you to travel free on buses and trams as well as at reduced rates on Tube, DLR, London Overground and most National Rail services in London.
    To be eligible for free bus and tram travel, you must:
    •Live in a London borough and
    •Be in full-time education and
    •Be between 16 and 18 (this includes those who were still 18 on 31 August 2013)”

    The “living in London” requirement does not apply to under-16s. Even then, there is a £10 non-refundable admin charge for country bumpkins, so even then it’s only worth it if you are going to make more than six single trips”

    Even worse if you are applying from abroad – the ticket has to be collected in person from a travel centre by the child’s own parents – useless for exchange students.

  407. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – fair enough, I skim read the original post and missed the 16 yo reference. At the age of 16 you are usually deemed to be an adult for transport fares so the alternative is for the young lady to equip herself with an adult Oyster card. There are several outlets to do this in and around Purley and as far out as Redhill. Unless I am missing something which is not appropriate for sharing on a discussion board like this I think there is a way forward for the young lady to travel on a bus but it does require a bit of effort. The alternative is whether she has a bank account and to ask the bank in question if they will issue a contactless debit card on that account. I have heard that banks do issue cash cards to teenagers but obviously they have no access to credit until reaching the legal minimum for that. The final option is for T33 to consider a pre-paid contactless cash card. The concept is similar to Oyster PAYG but works at all retail outlets that accept Visa or Mastercard. Some of the cards attract up front and / or transaction charges.

    I guess it is arguable about the extent to which London concessions should be available to everybody. Would English exchange students get discounted fares elsewhere in Europe? Would Londoners be able to obtain child or student elsewhere in England? Doubtful as they’re often based on residency criteria for local authority areas.

  408. Walthamstow Writer says:

    In a surprise announcement TfL have said that daily and weekly (Mon – Sun) capping for contactless payment card (CPC) users is now live for buses. The daily cap is £4.40 and weekly (Mon – Sun) cap is £20.20 even though Trams are not in the scheme just yet. Seems the next stage of “electric beeps” is now live and kicking.

  409. timbeau says:


    The announcement also says that from September 16th the cap will apply to all TfL services (but only TfL, so those of us outside Middlesex, still reliant on private enterprise rather than municipal benevolence, are once again paying more money for less service).

  410. Anonymous says:

    @timbeau 4 August 2014 at 15:33
    Where exactly do you mean by the term “outside Middlesex”? Surely most of the GLA (i.e. TfL) area is, or was, outside Middlesex.
    Some TfL bus routes also run out of area, e.g. the 107 in Hertfordshire.
    There is also the question as to whether Middlesex exists at all.

  411. Long Branch Mike (Aéroglisseurs) says:


    “Where exactly do you mean by the term “outside Middlesex”?”

    There was an interesting discussion on this in the past few months in the comments of another thread, but I recall not which. Try a search. IIRC there were a few definitions to choose from, according to the era, government jurisdiction etc.

  412. timbeau says:

    The word “rail [services]” was omitted from my previous post. It is noticeable that even now nearly fifty years after its creation, TfL rail services in those parts of Greater London that were formerly in Kent, Surrey and Essex are few and far between. Even now, two boroughs (Bexley and Kingston) have no TfL rail services at all.

    Still, we must be thankful for small mercies – only one route outside Middlesex has yet had Boris’s mobile saunas inflected on it.

  413. Anon says:

    Ex-Surrey, and especially ex-Kent, but not ex-Essex are poorly served by TfL’s rail services. 5 Tramlink stops and 3 Overground stops in the 1888-1964 borders of Kent (current Herts does better with 9 stations with TfL services). The pre-1888 borders fare better: an additional 6 Overground stops, 1 tube station and 6 DLR stops, but that’s still rather poor.

    The dominant mode of rail-based transport in ‘Metropolitan Kent’ is National Rail, which isn’t the case for ‘Metropolitan Essex’, where there are 4 tube lines, the DLR and some Orange tentacles (more next year).

    Metro/inner suburban lines that serve ‘Metropolitan Essex’, but aren’t TfL run are a minority and will be down to just one before long: Chingford and Shenfield electrics and the Rominster shuttle are going to TfL, leaving just the LTS lines outside the Mayor’s control. Is it just Dagenham Dock that won’t have TfL service? And even then, there’s a Goblin extension proposed for ~10 years time completing the set which even Middlesex won’t have!

  414. Graham H says:

    @Anon -who now cares where the pre-1965 boundaries were? And if you do care, why not the pre-1888 boundaries? Or those of 800? They aren’t relevant at all to today however interesting historically. (And they are interesting,of course; for example, Kent appears to have extended well to the west of the pre-1888 boundary as recently as 600, at a time when the rest of what would become Surrey was the southern part of what would eventually turn into Berkshire. But, relevant to today’s transport needs, no).

  415. Ian J says:

    @Graham H: Quite. Surely the most boundaries which have had the most impact on London’s transport would be:

    – Before 1933, for trams only, the old boundaries of the London County Council, Middlesex, and the Urban Districts, because they operated various tram services. Everything else before 1933 was operated by private companies authorized by Parliament without direct local government involvement, I think?

    – Before 1933, for buses and taxis, the Metropolitan Police area, because they regulated road services?

    – From 1933 onwards, the London Passenger Transport Board boundaries (plural because there was a distinction between the area it was able to operate services, and the area where it had a monopoly of services), which are way bigger than any London local government area has been.

    – Since 1965 the Greater London boundary, as well as the old red bus-green bus boundary within the LPTB area, which is similar but different.

    – The Greater London boundary has only had any real effect on main line rail services since the invention of the Capitalcard in the 1980s and the beginning of GLC interest in the North London Line about the same time.

    So I don’t think you can say that Kent has fewer Tube services because is wasn’t part of Middlesex, for example. If trams had survived you could argue that the old boundaries had an impact, but they didn’t, and Middlesex these days is much less pro-tram than the southern counties as it happens.

  416. Greg Tingey says:

    But boundaries DO matter
    Look at the (lack of) service that Penkridge & Styal get …
    And the ongoing ( & amazingly petty & parochial IMHO ) dispute about putative TfL services in near-Kent, f’rinstance

  417. Anon says:

    @Graham H – timbeau cares for the point he is making.

    Oh, and I included the pre-1888 borders as well as the pre-1965 in looking at Kent. I even included the fun of Gallions Reach and North Woolwich being part of ‘traditional Kent’ (but totally ignored by the Association of British Counties who care an awful lot about pre-1965 borders and pre-1888 borders inside the former County of London until I told them, now North Woolwich is listed as Kent/Essex).

    However, my actual point was simple and had little to do with old counties other than as a geographic framework set by timbeau – “Metropolitan Essex” (or “East London” if you want) has lots of TfL rail, contra timbeau, who lumped it in with “Metropolitan Kent and Surrey” (also know as Sarf of the River) as barren wastelands that TfL don’t dare touch. The divide in London’s transport is the Thames, not the Thames and the Lea. Rather than TfM (‘Trains for Middlesex’) it’s TfNL – Trains for North London.

    Oh, and a correction – Dagenham Dock won’t turn orange, leaving it the only station in East London, save Stratford International, not served by TfL trains.

  418. timbeau says:

    Agreed that “Metropolitan Essex” (east of the Lea) has better TfL rail services, and getting better, although it is noticeable that the only tube line in Essex actually built (rather than taken over) by the Underground is between Leytonstone and Redbridge.

    But south of the river, local services are overwhelmingly in the hands of the private operators, whose fares are higher even on Oyster. So not only are we paying through Council Tax for TfL services we don’t have, we are paying over the odds for the services we do have.

    Semi-detached suburbia in more senses than one.

    Only one tube line is predominantly south of the river – the Waterloo & City.

  419. Graham H says:

    @Anon – so he may, but that doesn’t make it better expressed. Now if he had talked in terms of the geographical or socio-economic sectors of Greater London, it would have carried more force. Talk of ex-Kent London or ex-Essex London is meaningless and smacks of the construction of some artificial case for investment based an alleged grievance. I might just as well point out that the Hundred of Ossulstone has inadequate mainline services and deserves better. Will any of its inhabitants recognise that? No! Now, turning to the Kingdom of the Hwicce, I might mention how few services to London it has these days. And more sleepers to Rheged, please.

    BTW, Kent as I have already pointed out used to come much further west, maybe even as far as Putney, so of course on that measure, it has quite a good tube network. Same goes for Essex which used to include much of eastern Middlesex until 600…

  420. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    All right, maybe I over-egged the point. But it is noticeable that the north west quadrant of Greater London, especially outside the central area, has the least reliance on NR services and the SE quadrant has the most, with SW not much better. There are, of course, historical reasons for that – notably that the Metropolitan Railway and UERL group both came under municipal control but the Southern and LNER* came under national control – but Greater London has existed for nearly fifty years.

    (*the LMS and GWR had relatively small suburban networks – they always had bigger fish to fry)

  421. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon – I am not an expert on boundaries but won’t Rainham down the line from Dagenham Dock also be a non TfL served station in East London? When Lea Bridge station opens it also will not be TfL served as Abellio Greater Anglia will serve that stop. Depending on geographical definitions as to what is north or east London then stops north of Tottenham Hale fall / will fall into the “not served by TfL” category too.

    @ Timbeau – on a point of tedious pedantry your complaint about paying council tax but not benefitting from TfL’s generosity can be extended to the whole country given the considerable grant paid by Central Government from general taxation. Everyone pays for TfL via the tax system. The TfL precept raises £6m per annum from Londoners and that level hasn’t changed for years. That would barely pay for the Commissioner’s and Directors’ annual bonuses. Therefore the Council tax really doesn’t pay for anything at TfL – fares revenue, charges, grant and borrowing is what funds TfL.

  422. Anonymous says:

    @Graham H 5 August 2014 at 12:30
    As you well know, the area once known as the Hundred of Ossulstone is nowcomprehensively served by TfL Underground, Overground and bus services. It also includes Paddington, Euston Kings Cross and St Pancras, so I believe your complaint is unjustified.

    Please refrain from discussion of the Kingdom of the Hwicce and Rheged as these are too far away. This site is after all “London Reconnections”.

    More seriously, the boundary of Greater London is somewhat arbitrary. There are parts which would better fit in other counties, e.g. Romford, and parts of other counties which would be a better fit in London, e.g. Hertsmere and Broxbourne. I doubt if this will ever be reviewed.

  423. Graham H says:

    @timbeau -I think you are probably right in the explanation as to the differential expansion of the tube being partly (maybe wholly) a reflexion of the attitudes of the southern companies, although it’s noticeable that both the rival tube consortia and virtually all of the independent proposals avoided S London even before they got anywhere near having to face off the LBSC etc in Parliament. Looking at the discussion on the Bakerloo thread here prompts the thought that the relatively difficult subsoil south of the river may have also played a part -perhaps I’m imputing too much knowledge about that to the Edwardians?

  424. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    There was another factor. Until well into the Edwardian period, the main traffic objective of all early Underground companies was the City (it was only the three Yerkes tubes which broke this pattern)

    Prio to 1890 there was an obvious difficulty in accessing the City from the south using Cut and Cover techniques – this had an effect on the early development of the network.

  425. @timbeau,

    True but it didn’t have much impact on Paris which quite happily used modified cut and cover techniques to go under the Seine or alternatively came up on the surface just to cross the river before plunging below street level again. Then again Paris wasn’t so daft futuristic and pioneering as to run steam trains underground and the French waited for the development of electric trains before building their cut and cover Metro.

  426. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – Yes – shopping in the West End didn’t really take off until c1900 (and then TCR (Heals etc) and the Strand (Civil Service Stores) were more important than Oxford Street (Selfridges not until c1906?).

    One other factor that may or may not have been important was the technical limitations imposed on the very earliest electric tubes, such as the tendency of the traction motors to overheat, which limited the scope for lengthy expansion. The steam subsurface lines which, for historic reasons, already ran predominantly east-west, had no such limitation and indeed could and did adopt a strategy of expansion by collaboration, well beyond the fringes of the built up area. Such a strategy wasn’t available to the deep tube and it lacked the technical base to develop north-south over any distance. [That quickly changed but the die had already been cast by then].

  427. Fandroid says:

    Methinks there are simple historical reasons for the lack of TfL stations in the south (apart from the pioneering Tube – The C&SL and extensions). At the time of the creation of LPTB, Southern Electric railways were really well on the way to having south London totally stitched up. Don’t forget that just about the only electric railways north of the centre were the Metropolitan and the LNWR lines out of Broad Street. LPTB saw themselves as builders of electric railways where they didn’t previously exist, hence the dramatic expansion northwards, northeastwards and westwards. After 1948, it was either one nationalised outfit (BR) or another (LT) building and operating the electric railways of London. Only privatisation with its artificially created ‘Hackney Wick Question’ showed that local control might have some virtues for local lines.

  428. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid – nice theory but the timings don’t fit. Already (timbeau’s point, I think) by c1906, neither the Yerkes group nor the Speyer group were showing much interest in South London – well before anything like mainline electrification in the area.

    If you think about the London of 1900, the main target destinations were either the City, or the main shopping areas which were the Strand, TCR and Kensington. The southern companies would have thought that they had already had these markets stitched (well before electrification was on their agenda) whereas the northern main lines needed to extend their reach to these areas – hence the Great Northern and Strand, and the LNW collaboration with the Bakerloo (and the CX routeing of the Hampstead tube). Add to that the existence of some obvious niches north of the river such as Hampstead, and the shape of the original tube system become easier to explain. Put another way, there was no business case for going south as the rewards of collaboration and the existence of niche markets were non-existent.

    After WW1, the markets had changed, and whilst the West End had trumped the Strand, and TCR, Swan had met Edgar, and so on, the operators had changed, too. South of the river the tramway system had been electrified and modernised, bus travel had become reliable and fares reduced to levels which the working classes could afford. And the Combine’s buses from the south reached the new growth markets. So again, the business case for going south by tube was weak. North of the river, these factors applied with much less force. The tramway network was less dense,and distances were greater so bus travel was less appealing – note the absence of any “great” trunk routes into the north west quadrant apart from the 18 – the north west trolleybus network never extended the reach of the former tramway system in the area because it, too, wasn’t allowed into the central area. At the same time, the northern mainline companies had no money for investing in suburban (or any other) services and it was easy for them to welcome the interwar tube extensions.

    After WW2, even less money for investment, and gap filling was of the order of the day. Taking public transport as a whole, there were no obvious gaps to fill in the southern suburbs.

  429. Graham H says:

    @Anonymous of 1517 – in case you hadn’t noticed it there is already a thread dealing with sleepers which pass even now – and stop – in Rheged, and there ‘s also a thread where others wax lyrically on the New North Line – on the way to Hwicceland. Of course, contributors may not know that, but then they equally may not know where the Quaggy and Chaffinch are but that doesn’t stop them writing about the areas, or whether XR2 should be extended to Stansted – well outside London. So your admonition is out of place, I fear, possibly rude, even.

  430. Anonymous says:

    @Graham H 5 August 2014 at 17:57
    Please accept my apology if the long distance comments were a bit abrupt. I happen to believe that the site should mainly comment on services in London and ROSEland.
    However, I am curious as to the grounds for your putative Ossulstone complaint.

  431. Anon says:

    @ WalthamstowWriter – whoops, Rainham (and Lea Bridge when built) will be non-TfL. And I guess Tottenham Hale and north could count as East London (but not ‘ex-Essex’). When the border between boroughs and the border is marked the same on maps it’s hard to remember what’s what.

    @GrahamH – there’s a world of difference between borders that had mostly existed for centuries (minor changes excepted) and were only changed 49 years ago and still have people referring to places in them being in Kent, Middlesex, Essex and Surrey* and borders that were short-lived and changed 1400 years ago like Kent reaching Putney.

    Greater London as a county is basically an anachronism anyway now – it’s been 28 years since it had a council (7 years longer than it had a county council for). It’s entirely a paper county. The GLA is a regional assembly for the 2-county Greater London Region.

    There’s nothing stopping (eg) Bromley and Bexley boroughs becoming part of Kent for the purposes of lieutenancy while remaining London boroughs and part of the Greater London region – other than the sheer pointlessness of formalising what most residents treat as the case by getting a bit of paper saying that they share a person in tights (who does nothing) with Dover and Canterbury rather than Dalston and Croydon…

    The whole county thing has increasingly become a mess – 4 successive ‘reforms’ (the first two being rather crayonista in style and the forth mostly being botched ways of fixing the mess of those first two) roughly 10 years apart (’65, ’74, ’86 and ’94-97) played about with local government so much that it’s hard to know what a county actually is. When there’s a ‘County of Luton’ that is also part of the ‘County of Bedfordshire’ you know they need to start again, and ditch the county as an administrative unit and call council areas something else (like Northern Ireland did), leaving counties as a purely geographic term that is defined culturally, rather than prescriptively – like how most people treat it today anyway thanks to 50 years of radical overhauls!

    *Getting SW Londoners south of the Thames to stop saying they live in Surrey isn’t helped by Surrey County Council being HQed in Kingston, but that isn’t going to change for some time!

  432. Anomnibus says:

    Someday, Google will come up with a metric that measures exactly how far off-topic a particular comment is. This must be expressed as a percentage to be useful.

    There is money in this. I guarantee it. Just think of the commercial opportunities for competitive thread-derailing events.

    Speaking of which: Magic Beans > ITSO > Oyster > Cash > Cow. Discuss.

  433. Graham H says:

    @Anon of 1931 – I couldn’t agree with you more! (I accept anomnibus’ implied complaint and won’t give you my standard rant about the destruction of local government and local identity – a topic on which I find I feel surprisingly deeply).

    @Anonymous of 1836 (if different from Anon of 1931, and even if not). A gracious apology! My remarks about Ossulstone were prefixed by “better” (I know that in reality it has a good quality of rail connexions). Actually, I am very fond of the traditional local government system and suspect that as, amoeba-like, districts expand and layers appear above and below them, we shall see some counties reappear – like Cornwall and Rutland.

    Here’s one for Castlebar specifically – which Middlesex Hundred had its name incorporated into a station name (other than Enfield).

  434. Fandroid says:

    @Graham H. Ironically, I deleted a big mention of trams in my post earlier. I now realise that I shouldn’t have done that. LCC entered the tram business with the intention of electrifying them. It was delayed slightly because it had to wait until the 20 years were up that the 1870 act allowed before the multitudinous existing private horse tram lines could start to be compulsorily purchased. Yerkes and the like would have been very aware of that, and the fact that there were no tramlines in Westminster or the City (with a few minor exceptions) for the LCC to take over. The network south of the river was really very dense. That north of the West End and the City was less so. The period 1900 to 1914 saw a race between the rival modes and rival ownership styles to electrify London’s transport. One good reason why the Bakerloo never got past Elephant and Castle in 1906 was that beyond there was a mass of popular and cheap tram services, rapidly being converted to electric power.

  435. Graham H says:

    @Fandroid -I entirely agree,the expansion of the tramways is key, with south London distinctly ahead of north London in terms of network density. One interesting feature of the scene between, say,1890 and 1910, is the race between bus, tram, and metro technology. Had, say, bus won (eg a B type as early as 1900), would we have had the electric tram network? Year by year developments were that important, I suspect.

  436. Castlebar says:

    @ GH

    As I used to be good at cryptic crosswords (before I retired and no longer have any time available), I note your careful choice of that word “incorporated” and know you must be referring to Hanwell & Elthorne, a station (once) close to a small school, an inmate of which I once lent half a crown to on Jacobs Ladder in about 1956/7, and who was never seen again.

    My friend who is a ‘medium’, tells me that he is still alive and lives in the Woking area.

  437. Graham H says:

    @castlebar -correct – you may win a lifetime’s subscription to a forum of your choice.

    A propos the half crown, we have had this conversation before. My lawyers have advised to admit no liability.[Although it is undoubtedly a case of mistaken identity,I am following Lord Goodman’s advice to Jeremy Thorpe on this one].

  438. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 1931 – wearing my pedant’s hat again I fear I must don the identity of the Mayorwatch twitter account [1] and say that the GLA is not the Assembly. It’s the Greater London Authority which is the “doing” bit which supports the administration of the Mayor’s office and conducts the Mayoral and Assembly elections. The London Assembly is the democratic bit charged with scrutinising the Mayor and his budget.

    [1] he is forever getting cross with people who mix up the different bits of the current London wide governance structure.

  439. Ian J says:

    @timbeau: Prior to 1890 there was an obvious difficulty in accessing the City from the south using Cut and Cover techniques

    Don’t forget that the first tube tunnel under the Thames opened in 1870, not 1890.

  440. timbeau says:

    @ian J
    Point taken – even earlier if you count Wapping- Rotherhithe. But the point was that in practice until 1890 all but the very shortest and experimental underground lines were cut and cover, and effectively confined to one (or other) bank of the river. Paris may have solved the problem, but not until 1900.

  441. Paris may have solved the problem, but not until 1900.

    Open to interpretation, but I would argue it was not the cut and cover techniques which held Paris back but, having seen what was happening in London, a reluctance to run steam engines underground that delayed a start to the Metro which had to wait until electric trains were a practical proposition.

  442. Greg Tingey says:

    BOOKLIST ( As per “anomnibus” )
    Here’s one: Le Metro de Paris 1899 – 1911
    Pub Archives de Paris/Musee de Paris
    ISBN: 2-87900-481-0

    e-mail me ( & John Bull & probably Jonathan Roberts, Graham H & one or two others ) & we’ll try to put one together.
    London’s Termini / Rails Through the Clay /the Railway Junction Diagrams (available on-line, of course ) and one or two historical volumes which some of us will have.
    Bradshaw 1922 (which I have) & the othe D&C reprints of IIRC 1910 & 1938 – which I don’t could be useful …
    The Joe Brown Atlkas & the Ian Allen pre-grouping one.
    In fact one will have to nominate quite library, subdivided into sections
    Geography, History, Operating come to mind.

    Please reply off-public-line?

  443. Castlebar says:

    One book GH will definitely have is the “Ian Allan abc of British Railways, 1958 Part 1 (Western Region)”, which cost Half a Crown, and was probably purchased from WH Smith & Son Ealing Broadway with money borrowed on Jacobs Ladder.

  444. @Greg and others re booklist

    A recommended booklist was something I thought we ought to have years ago. If nothing else it would possibly help someone considering writing an article.

    I think the problem with this and many other laudable aims (better indexing and cataloging, glossary, more structured photo section) is getting the time to implement it into the fabric of the website in such a way that is maintainable. And of course there is always the pressure of time. A bit like Steve Jobs, John Bull doesn’t necessary work on what you think the obvious requirement is but there are often very good reasons for this.

    One thing I am becoming very aware of is how many people are willing to contribute in some way to the success of the site. Personally I think we need to do two things. One is modify the site a bit so it is not so dependent on one person for day to day use and parts of it can be updated by other approved people. To my mind ideally John Bull (or myself) should be able to go on holiday or busy with work for a month and no-one should notice. The other is let go a little bit. This has its risks but also its benefits. All I can say at this stage is that I believe we are slowly moving in this direction.

  445. Fandroid says:

    @Graham H. Sorry, but I have been pursuing what pretends to be a real life between posts on LR (I’m not actually sure which is more real – LR or what I do the rest of the time). Anyway, I agree that the period from about 1880 to 1914 is absolutely fascinating. The rate of change must have seemed giddying to everyone involved. I like to think of it as the ‘age of electricity’, but the petrol engine was coming up rapidly on the inside creating amazing developments such as heavier than air flight, plus wireless communication was just starting up too.

  446. LadyBracknell says:

    @Walthamstow Writer re: daily capping. This is good to know as I have been using contactless for three to four months and had not been getting the same benefit as using my Oyster card.

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