It's been a long time coming, but from late last week TfL opened up payment for travel on buses through NFC - the same system that allows you to make purchases in a range of retailers by simply swiping your card. Of course, buses are the simplest part of the network to open - there's a standard cost for a journey rather than a range of fees dependent on the zone of travel. Users are currently charged £1.35 a journey - the same as a standard Oyster fare.
However, by the end of next year the system is planned to roll out across the whole network - working on a series of weekly caps (like the existing weekly travel cards) and also linking monthly or seasonal tickets to bank cards to determine excess journeys. And about time too - a Visa poll (admittedly probably a keen bunch) shows that there's demand to streamline the system and make new payment methods available:
The study revealed that 88% of London transport customers user Oyster cards, but 77% said they wanted more options other than the Oyster and cash.
Tom Edwards lays out the clear economic argument for TfL to be moving in this direction:
The cost of rolling it out on the buses is £5m and for the Tube it will be £74m but the payback is substantial for TfL.
It thinks it can save £30m a year by not collecting cash from buses.
It looks as if NFC is the future and it's here to stay.