London

London buses offer contactless card payment

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Media captionNew technology means you can 'touch in' with a bank card as well as an Oyster card

Bus passengers in London can now choose to pay fares with a contactless card, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

Passengers on the city's 8,500 vehicles will be able to buy tickets by swiping a credit, debit or charge card by a reader.

More than 85,000 bus journeys are still paid for using cash each day, TfL said.

Contactless payment will not be available on the Underground until the end of 2013.

Discussions are also under way with the train operating companies that serve London about accepting contactless payment cards where Oyster is currently accepted.

BBC London's transport correspondent Tom Edwards said the new payment system could save TfL £35m-a-year in reduced cash collection costs.

'Simple touch'

TfL said every day 36,000 people board a bus and find they have insufficient funds on their Oyster card to pay for their journey and that at least 500 people a day try to pay their fare with a high denomination note for which the driver does not have change.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: "Lots of us have had the frustrating experience of dashing to board a bus only to discover that our Oyster card has run out of credit.

"So the arrival of this latest technology is welcome news, meaning that with a simple touch of a contactless payment card, people can avoid having to scrabble for change and also still benefit from the Oyster fare discount."

But the contactless payment system will not include daily price capping, which means if it is used several times in one day it will not stop charging once a passenger reaches the cost of daily travelcard. This is what happens with a pay-as-you-go Oystercard.

And passengers are being warned to be careful about swiping their wallet against readers if they own more than one contactless payment card as the reader will reject all of them.

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