This morning I attended a briefing at TfL about the soon to be launched contactless payments on rail services. Sadly TfL wouldn’t commit to an actual date, but late summer/early autumn seems likely. At the same time as the rail system goes live, the existing bus facility will be merged with it, offering full capping for all rail and bus journeys, including the new Monday to Sunday weekly capping.
I’ll need some time to document all I’ve learnt about the new system, but for now I can confirm that everything mentioned in my pilot diaries is accurate. Although I haven’t yet managed to test out weekly capping, I’m informed that the final charge made will be worked out using a complex algorithm to ensure a best price is paid. Put simply, if your regular commute is extended with the odd out of zone journey these will still be charged as extensions as they are now with Oyster. The added benefits mean that if you make a lot of unusual journeys the system will work out if a different travelcard cap would be cheaper, and of course if you fall ill and don’t travel enough you won’t be charged for the full travelcard.
Finally, despite what some would say, Oyster definitely has a future. It will be needed for all the youngsters who aren’t old enough for bank cards, for starters. What is likely is that it will change from the card holding your balance to a similar system as contactless where the balance is held centrally and journeys are worked out in the back office.