In the four months since buses in London began accepting contactless payments, more than 1 million trips have been paid for with the technology.
About 2,000 riders paid for nearly 2,600 bus trips on Dec. 13, the first day that contactless payments became available, according to London's municipal transit authority. Now, Transport for London estimates that up to 10,000 riders are making as many as 16,000 journeys each day by paying their fares using contactless credit and debit cards or the authority's stored-value card, called the Oyster card.
An estimated 1,000 new contactless payment cards are used on London's 8,500 buses each day. This indicates adoption is growing, rather than the same riders utilizing the technology, Transport for London said.
"It is fantastic that we've already seen a million bus journeys made using contactless payment cards and it's a great sign that our customers are keen to benefit from this technology," Shashi Verma, the authority's director of customer experience, said in a press release. "We are now working hard to roll contactless payments out to the rest of the transport network."
Transport for London intends to begin accepting contactless payments on the London Underground trains (also known as the Tube), the Docklands Light Railway, the suburban heavy rail system called London Overground, and its streetcar-style Tramlink by the end of 2013. Testing of various contactless payments methods continues, with transit officials weighing the benefits of Near Field Communication versus RFID technologies.
In March, the authority published its requirements for companies to bid on a contract to provide the front and back office revenue collection systems for all its transportation modes. The new contract will begin in August 2015 and could be worth up to £1 billion (US$15.4 billion) over 10 years, if all options are exercised.
Since the Oyster stored-value payments system was introduced in 2003, 55 million cards have been issued, of which 8 million are regularly used, according to the transit agency. More than 85% of all public transit is paid for with an Oyster card, and Transport for London says accepting credit and debit cards onboard buses gives riders more flexibility to pay for fares, particularly when they don't have sufficient funds in their Oyster account.
"Consumers want to be able to choose how they pay for goods and services and the take-up of contactless payments shows that people in London are really getting on board with the 'touch and go' technology," Charlie Craven, American Express vice president of emerging product development, said in the release.
Riders can use a contactless credit or debit card for single bus trips, and the cost is lower than the cash fare for both credit/debit and Oyster card users. The authority does not currently set a cap on how many bus fares a rider can pay for with a credit or debit card, but said that once it expands contactless payments acceptance across the network, it will set daily and weekly price caps.