Millions of Londoners will never need to buy a weekly Travelcard again, after Transport for London announced this morning that it will be introducing weekly capping on Oysters for adult pay as you go Tube and rail passengers from Monday, September 27.
The move could help to save some regular passengers more than £20 per week.
Oyster pay-as-you-go users already benefit from a daily cap, which means they can make multiple journeys but pay no more than the equivalent daily travelcard. Weekly capping is already available for those using pay as you go with contactless, and Oyster customers who only travel on bus and tram services.
In a statement this morning, TfL said, “The upgrade, which follows significant technical development and successful discussions with the train operating companies, means that those who regularly use the iconic smartcard to travel around London will no longer need to plan how to pay for travel throughout the week, as the system will give them the best possible fares for all their journeys made between Monday and Sunday.”
Daily caps on Tube and rail services are set at one-fifth of the price of a weekly cap, and if customers travel more frequently, weekly caps ensure they don’t pay more than the equivalent weekly Travelcard.
The weekly cap comes six years after TfL first promised to bring the smart cards in line with capping already available on contactless bank cards. The delay was due to the need to reach agreement with train companies.
The lack of a weekly cap meant that commuters returning to the office five days a week and also travelling at weekends could pay more in total – sometimes amounting to more than £20 a week for multiple journeys in zones 1-4.
Contactless is now the primary way which customers use pay as you go on the Tube, making up around 70 per cent of all pay as you go journeys, compared to around 30 per cent by Oyster.
As well as providing weekly capping, the new technology will also make it easier for taps that have been accidently missed to be refunded. Weekly capping for those with Zip cards and other discounts is expected to launch in 2022, “following further technical development”, according to TfL.
There have been versions of smartcard technology in use on London’s buses, Tubes and trains since 1992. Contactless bank cards for fare payments were introduced on buses in 2012, and later expanded to the Tube and rail services.
Using an Oyster card, contactless card or device to pay as you go is easy and flexible. Customers only pay for the journeys they make, which is ideal if they commute flexibly – something which, as Londoners gradually return to their usual places of work following the covid lockdowns, will be ever more useful.
On Wednesday this week, there were 2.4 million Tube journeys made – the highest weekday since the pandemic began.
Eight out of 10 fare-paying passengers travelling on the Tube now do so using pay as you go with contactless or Oyster, rather than Travelcards or paper single tickets.
On buses, the proportion of fare-paying passengers using pay as you go is 72 per cent. Bus ridership is currently at around 4.5 million journeys a day across London.
Mike Tuckett, the head of customer payments at TfL, said: “Pay as you go has been a huge success for London and following the pandemic we are seeing how the flexibility and convenience that it offers is benefiting those whose travelling habits might have changed.
“Following significant technical development and successful discussions with the train operating companies, we are pleased to now be able to extend weekly Tube and rail capping to Oyster customers, meaning that they can now benefit from knowing they won’t pay more than an equivalent weekly Travelcard for their journeys across London.”
Andy Bagnall, the director general of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “It’s great to see train operating companies and TfL working together to make fares easier and better value in London, which is crucial to encourage more people on to trains, boost local businesses and protect the environment from polluting traffic jams.
“We want to be able to offer this type of flexible ticketing to people in towns and cities beyond the capital, including tap-in, tap-out with a price cap for commuters, which is why we have long called for government to undertake wholesale reform of the regulations that underpin the fares system.”
For more information about pay as you go visit tfl.gov.uk/fares
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