Weekly capping on Oyster for adult pay as you go customers will go live on Monday 27 September 2021, meaning that anyone travelling on Tube and rail services across London will benefit from never needing to buy a weekly Travelcard again (unless they specifically need a week not starting on a Monday – Mike notes).
The upgrade, which follows significant technical development and successful discussions with the train operating companies, means that those who regularly use the iconic smartcard to travel around London will no longer need to plan how to pay for travel throughout the week, as the system will give them the best possible fares for all their journeys made between Monday and Sunday.
Daily caps on Tube and rail services are set at one fifth of the price of a weekly cap, and if customers travel more frequently, weekly caps ensure they don’t pay more than the equivalent weekly Travelcard. Weekly capping is already available for those using pay as you go with contactless, and Oyster customers who only travel on bus and tram services across London. As well as providing weekly capping, the new technology will also make it easier for taps that have been accidently missed to be refunded. Weekly capping for those with Zip cards and other discounts is expected to launch during 2022 following further technical development.
London has led the way globally in developing transport ticketing technology with the first trials of smartcard technology, which would lead to the Oyster card, beginning as early as 1992. This led TfL towards the wider development of ticketing using contactless bank cards which was first introduced on buses in 2012 and later expanded to the Tube and rail services.
Using an Oyster card, contactless card or device to pay as you go is easy and flexible. Customers only pay for the journeys they make, which is ideal if they commute flexibly. As ridership continues to increase on London’s public transport network, new analysis shows that eight out of ten fare paying customers travelling on the Tube are now doing so using pay as you go with contactless or Oyster, rather than more traditional Travelcard or paper single tickets.
Mike Tuckett, Head of Customer Payments at TfL, said: “Pay as you go has been a huge success for London and following the pandemic we are seeing how the flexibility and convenience that it offers is benefiting those whose travelling habits might have changed.
Following significant technical development and successful discussions with the train operating companies, we are pleased to now be able to extend weekly Tube and rail capping to Oyster customers, meaning that they can now benefit from knowing they won’t pay more than an equivalent weekly Travelcard for their journeys across London.”
Andy Bagnall, Director General of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “It’s great to see train operating companies and TfL working together to make fares easier and better value in London, which is crucial to encourage more people onto trains, boost local businesses and protect the environment from polluting traffic jams.
We want to be able to offer this type of flexible ticketing to people in towns and cities beyond the capital, including tap-in, tap-out with a price cap for commuters, which is why we have long called for government to undertake wholesale reform of the regulations that underpin the fares system.”
So how will it actually work. Fares and daily caps will still be deducted from the Oyster card balance at the time of making journeys. At the end of each day the journeys will be run through the back-end processing that is currently used for contactless. In some cases there might be a small adjustment needed where the enhanced calculation works out a different (lower) overall charge. The adjustments will be sent to the Oyster card when the cumulative total exceeds £1.50, or once 14 days has passed since the first adjustment was due. This is designed so that the faster universal load system, which also delivers top-ups, is not overwhelmed with trivial adjustments.
Update: An adjustment queued to Faster Universal Load (FUL) is available to collect for 3 days. If the card is not used within that timescale then using the card again within six months will re-queue the adjustment with a new 3 day window. In almost all cases the adjustment will be collected when touching out at the end of the journey or when making the return bus journey.