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Contactless has caught on underground

Wed Feb 24 17:15:00 EST 2016

The capital is a teeming, bustling cacophony of commuters, tourists and Londoners, busy getting on with the ordinary and, sometimes, the extraordinary. That’s the very nature of city living. And keeping up in this fast-paced and often frenetic environment can be a challenge. Yet Transport for London (TfL), with a helping hand from Barclaycard, is in first place when it comes to ways to pay on the London Underground.

A match made in heaven

You may have a love/hate relationship with TfL but you’ve got to admit that it does pull its hefty weight. London’s Underground system carries a staggering 1.3bn passengers annually.1 For some context, that’s about the population of China being carted around on our 150-year-old2 network over the course of a year. Modernisation of the travel network has been the tune that TfL has been dancing to in recent years and in September 2014, it produced a world first by introducing an integrated contactless payment system onto the capital’s tube’s and trains. And Barclaycard played a big part in this. As TfL’s merchant acquirer we’ve had a lead role in delivering one of the largest payments infrastructure projects in the UK. Not only is contactless simple, seamless and swift, it can be better for commuters as, like with Oyster, they only have to pay for the journeys they actually take as opposed to forking out for a ticket in advance.

A match made in heaven

So what’s the deal?

1. Have you noticed of late that less people are clogging up the barriers? That awkward fumbling around looking for paper ticket seems to have subsided a bit…that’s probably because the number of completed contactless journeys has now exceeded 300m since its launch in September 2014 and so many more Londoners are opting to pay with their contactless cards rather than a paper ticket or Oyster card.

2. Budget busting Brits want value for money, especially when it comes to their essential spend such as food and travel. Passengers will be pleased to know that TfL have applied discounts to millions of journeys by applying a final fare charge to contactless cards that incorporates all potential savings. 

3. Contactless journeys aren’t just convenient, they benefit from daily and weekly capping. This means that once a set limit is hit, TfL will charge some journeys at less than the full fare or even at zero so customers can save money on a daily or weekly basis. Over 31m journeys have benefitted from daily capping since September 2014 giving Brits more bang for their buck by choosing to go contactless.

4. Retail therapy, culinary delights and big nights out are just a few of the ways we spend our weekends. So it’s no surprise that Fridays and Saturdays are the peak days for contactless travel and that travellers tend to use new contactless cards on these days. In fact, they tend to use almost double the amount of new cards on Fridays and Saturdays. Now, the total number of unique cards on the network totals more than 9m.

5. Britain’s busiest Friday was Friday 18 December 2015. It was a milestone for contactless -the peak contactless travel day to date. On that last Friday before Christmas, many people had to dash into shops for last minute gifts, some had their office or festive parties and others were travelling back home to spend the merry season with friends or family. It’s no wonder a record 1.24m journeys were completed by over 500k unique contactless cards.

The moral of the story?

Choose ‘touch and go’ when you travel around the city. You won’t be that person causing chaos at the barriers, it won’t matter if you forget to top up your Oyster card and you might even save yourself a few quid along the way.