Say goodbye to tram tickets as TfL prepares to go ‘cashless’

Get ready to say farewell to those sometimes baffling and idiosyncratic ticket machines which stand like sentinels on the platforms of every stop on the Croydon Tramlink network.

From early next year, Croydon’s trams are set to go cashless

Transport for London has begun an eight-week public consultation on plans to make trams in London “cashless”.

Which everyone should, by now, realise that that means that TfL is intent on making the Croydon tram network cashless, and getting rid of ticket machines.

Of course, essentially, the tram network has been cashless since Day One, with no conductors on board to sell tickets, and drivers never being expected to collect fares or check passengers’ travel cards.

But according to an announcement from TfL this week, the cash ticket machines at the various trackside halts will be removed from the tram network within the next few months.

The Schlumberger ticket machines were installed when the system was opened in 2000. The machines feature an electronic display and are operated by a toggle wheel. It is a system similar in design to that used on the Docklands Light Railway and on France’s SNCF, which always gave the tram network a feeling of a slightly sophisticated, Continental otherness.

So with Brexit coming in some form or other, getting rid of this vestage of foreignness might be timely.

Make the most of those £2.60 tickets while you can

TfL claims that the ticket machines “only sell a small number of the more expensive paper tickets every week and do not allow customers to top-up their Oyster card”.

Which may be true.

But nonetheless, removing a cash-paying option at tram stops seems to be an odd thing to do under a Labour Mayor, as it can only make public transport less accessible for those who use or need it most.

But hey: this is the same TfL which at the weekend started removing bus stops from around the Sainsbury’s on the Purley Way, apparently uninterested in the appeals of local (Labour) ward councillors and the public about issues of transport access for those who need it the most.

Because the removal of ticket machines from tram stops will undoubtedly impact the least well-off the hardest, because they are least likely to possess all-singing, all-dancing smart phones for contactless payments. But hey, it might help to save TfL a few thousand quid on maintenance each year.

And woe betide you, even after they have removed the ticket machines, if you get caught on a tram without a valid payment device.

TfL says that, “As the ticket machines, which were installed when the tram system opened in 2000, have such low usage and have now reached the end of their useful life, it is no longer cost-effective for TfL to maintain them or have them replaced.

“It is, therefore, proposed that TfL remove the machines and ask any customers who still buy paper tickets to switch to Oyster or contactless. Customers will be able to top up their Oyster cards at Oyster Ticket Stops along the route, at ticket machines at National Rail stations or via the TfL website and forthcoming TfL ticketing app.”

TfL reckons that only 0.3 per cent of single tram journeys are paid for with a ticket bought from a tram stop ticket machine, or fewer than 250 tickets per day. More than half of these are sold from 10 tram stops, TfL says.

A paper ticket bought from a ticket machine costs £2.60 whereas the equivalent pay-as-you-go single fare with Oyster or a contactless bank card is £1.50. Customers using pay-as-you-go also have access to the Mayor’s Hopper fare, which gives a second tram or bus journey for free within one hour of touching in on the first tram or bus journey.

TfL says, “Subject to the results of the consultation…” Ha! “… a final decision on whether to remove the machines will be made early next year.” Like a decision hasn’t already been made.

The consultation runs until Sunday October 29.

To find out more, see details of our public drop-in sessions and to have your say visit

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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9 Responses to Say goodbye to tram tickets as TfL prepares to go ‘cashless’

  1. Peter Rogers says:

    I saw a guy get caught by ticket inspectors on the tram, they were going ‘tell us your name, show us ID’, he said no you have no legal right to that information and he got off at the next stop leaving the ticket inspectors looking a tad embarrassed

  2. You are quite right to believe that the decision has been made and that the consultation is a sham and no changes will be made.

    There are some of us who only use public transport infrequently (some, like me, due to disabilities that make travel by buses and trains literally too painful), so are unwilling to pay for an Oyster card in advance when I am unlikely to use the full credit.

    In effect I have been barred from using London buses for a long time but Trams are the only true accessible public transport and I do use them infrequently. No longer it seems.

    I am somewhat old-school in using my mobile phone for use as a phone (and email) and not as a games device or pestering people with unwanted photos of cats, so carrying the thing about in case I may use a tram is nonsense. I guess that contact credit card may be used but if so then TfL should say so, I have seen no explanation of alternatives to the wretched Oyster.

    One result is it does keep many of us in our cars to travel and a further excuse not to use public transport.

  3. Tim Barnsley says:

    The main thrust of this article is that “the removal of ticket machines from tram stops will undoubtedly impact the least well-off the hardest”. Given that a single paper ticket costs £1.10 more than using contactless or Oyster, I would have thought that the biggest impact is going to be to save them money if they are the biggest users of paper tickets

    • See Adrian Dennis’s comment as an example.

      The less-well-off tend not to have the means for the up-front costs of contactless payment cards or smartphones, and even Oyster cards can be seen as an imposition, tying up cash for future journeys which they don’t have, nor want to commit to a tram ride which they may or may not take in the future.

    • I agree. How many people don’t have a contactless debit or credit card? Using that you get the cheaper fare and only pay as you go, so no need for a pre paid Oyster card to sit in your pocket neverto be used.

  4. Peter Rogers says:

    Yeah but after years of being told to hide your pin, chop up your old cards, guard it with your life, etc etc etc to suddenly be told you just have to wave your card at something makes me paranoid. OK I’ll admit I’m mental and paranoid but plenty of other people feel the same

  5. sed30 says:

    Reblogged this on sed30's Blog.

  6. baw30s says:

    When Tramlink opened in 2000, it had a zonal fare structure similar to that of London’s railways, but in 2004 it was integrated into the bus fare system. There were cheaper £1 flat fares, and Oystercards and Bus Passes could be used on trams. From that time on, the elaborate ticket machines at tram stops became almost redundant, especially since contactless credit cards became accepted on buses and trams in December 2012.

    It therefore seems entirely logical that TfL should decide not to replace the machines as they approach the ends of their working lives, even if playing with them does while away a few minutes while waiting for a tram. They attract vandals and thieves and the money spent on servicing and emptying them could be used better elsewhere. Incidentally, I didn’t support the tube ticket office closures!

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