Cashless Buses

While I’ve been sampling the delights of the Paris transport system over the weekend, TfL have removed the ability to pay using cash on their buses. You can use Oyster, of course, or contactless payment cards (CPC), or a paper travelcard. The only thing to note is that at present a CPC will overcharge you if you make four or more bus journeys in one day. Proper capping will be introduced later this year, along with the ability to use CPCs on rail services.

The other concession that has been introduced recently is the concept of one more journey. If your Oyster card has run out of credit you can make one more bus journey before you need to top up. This is to avoid stranding passengers making late night journeys when most ticket stops are closed.

13 thoughts on “Cashless Buses”

  1. What would happen in a situation with a group of several people where one person was intending to pay all the fares?

    • Hi Phil,

      Either the group will have bought travelcards already, or each person will need an Oyster or CPC.

  2. That’s what I was afraid of. A perfectly legitimate and reasonable scenario involving, say, four people going home after a night out where person B says ” person A bought the last round of drinks so I’m paying all the fares home” is presumably no longer possible. Could one tap the same CPC several times in succession to pay multiple fares? And if so, how would the system distinguish between someone tapping their card twice, in order to pay two fares, deliberately, and someone doing so accidentally?

    • Hi Phil,

      Only one passenger can travel at any one time on a CPC. I hope that the reader on a bus would reject or ignore touch in on the same reader within say 5 minutes.

  3. Phil, in the current days of Oyster it would be very very unlikely that you would offer to pay your friends bus fares in that manner as everyone already has their Oyster cards.
    The only situation possible would be when you have an out of town visitor who doesn’t have Oyster or contactless. But I keep a nunber of spare Oyster cards for guests or I would just get then to buy a paper travel card when they arrive into a mainline station to visit.

  4. I work in a busy Tube station on a plethora of bus routes.
    Since the introduction of cashless buses, we have received a number of complaints from people that don’t own a contactless bank card or an Oyster card.
    Bus drivers are (allegedly) sending people to us to buy ‘bus tickets’ which of course we don’t sell.
    The only way that people can then travel by bus is to purchase a zone 1-6 travelcard (if off peak) for £8.90 or buy an Oyster card for £5 plus £5 minimum top-up.
    Then they are returning their Oyster cards for a refund of the deposit and any unused credit which causes longer queues at the ticket office window, and is time consuming due to the requirement to produce ID which has to be logged on the Ticket Office Machine before a refund can be done.

  5. On Sunday I started my journey from Zone 5 with a positive balance of £6.10 on my Oyster card, and my travel (which consisted of rail and tube) did not go out of the boundaries of Zones 1-5. I have a Railcard-applied Oyster card which means that, according to my understanding, all of my travel should have been capped at £5.60.

    Alas, what happened during my return journey was that I ended up at Edmonton Green with a remaining balance of £1.35 and the ticket reader on the bus (last leg of my journey) told me to get lost and top up. For some reason the “One More Journey” thingy didn’t work. So I got off the bus and attempted to top up my Oyster at the nearby train station machine, only to find that it wasn’t accepting Oyster card, forcing me to resort to buying a one-day paper travelcard for £8.90. I couldn’t find even find an option to buy it at Railcard discount (should there have been? The warden was pressuring me to get out of the station so that he could lock the station so I didn’t have time to have a good look).

    Any idea why it went so wrong, or have I understood the system?

  6. The journey history wasn’t unavailable last night but it is now:

    Sunday, 03 August 2014
    £8.10 daily total
    23:59 Unknown transaction Charge £3.35 Balance -£2.00
    23:01 – 23:26 Upton Park to Liverpool Street [London Underground] Charge £1.80
    Balance £1.35
    20:21 – 21:11 Southbury [National Rail] to Upton Park Charge £2.95
    Balance £3.15

    • Hi Kairul,

      You’ve got a part journey there which will not count towards the daily cap. Was 2359 the touch in at Liverpool Street or touch out at Edmonton? Was Edmonton a gate or a validator? Either way, when you touched on the bus you were already negative so one more journey didn’t apply. If you contact the help desk they will be able to arrange a refund, but you may need to wait until tomorrow because it was so late at night.

  7. The 2359 must have been the touch out at Edmonton Green. I must have forgotten to touch in at Liverpool Street. I will now contact customer services and see what they say.

    With regards to getting a refund on the travelcard as well, who would I advise I get in touch with?

    • OK, the helpdesk can sort out the refund for the Oyster. I’m not sure what anyone can do about the travelcard, but you could ask the helpdesk and see if they’ll take it into consideration. Going forward, I suggest you consider auto top-up so that your card never runs out of PAYG credit again.

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