The Anonymous Widower

Behind London’s Contactless Ticketing

I have just read this article on London Reconnections, which is entitled Don’t Fear the Beeper: Bus Hopper Tickets and the Future of Oyster.

It is fascinating stuff and a lot consists of an interview with Shashi Verma, TfL’s Director of Technology and Customer Experience.

One thing that surprised me is that Oyster and Contactless have separate back-ends, but the two will be combined in 2018.

So I think we’ll see lots of new features coming in after 2018.

As many of these will improve the customer experience, isn’t Sadiq a lucky Mayor, as he’ll get the credit rather than the geek who had the idea and did the coding.

This is said in the article about the Bus Hopper

This isn’t to say, of course, that the Hopper was an entirely new idea.

“[It] is something we have wanted to do for years and years.” Verma confirms. “But we haven’t wanted to do in the way that some politicians have wanted it to be done.”

So it was there all along.

How many other things will be possible, when the back offices are combined?

Use With Railcards

According to this page on the TfL web site, railcards don’t work with contactless cards.

I would suspect that one feature after 2018, would be that if you create an account for contactless or Oyster and add a railcard to the account, your fares will be adjusted accordingly.

The system could also handle the very popular Two Together Railcard. You’d just register two accounts for each traveller with the same railcard, then if they’re both used within say five minutes for the same journey, the back office applies the discount.

Use With Freedom Pass

Once the back offices are combined, the Freedom Pass could be made to work in two ways.

As now!

Or it is registered in your TfL account along with your contactless card and the back office would charge you an appropriate fare.

So if say I wanted to go to Gatwick Airport or anywhere in the Oystercard area, I just tap in and out with my contactless bank card and the back office charges be the £3, I would be charged if I went to East Croydon using my Freedom Pass and left the station before coming back in using contactless to get a train to the Airport.

If such a method was possible, I would certainly use it, as quite a few of the journeys I do are just outside the Freedom Pass area, but still within the Oystercard area.

It would then mean that I would only have to carry one card in my pocket.

The Outer London Freedom Pass

Say you live in one of the administrative districts that ring London. I’ll use Epping Forest as an example.

Because of your age or circumstances, you are entitled to a bus pass, but you get no free travel on trains or the Underground.

If your local authority decided to have a Freedom Pass scheme for all travel in the district, you would get any train or tube travel between stations in the local authority or to the boundary of the area, free.

In the case of Epping Forest, you’d get the outer reaches of the Central Line.

So if you were travelling from Theydon Bois to Liverpool Street, you’d only get charged for the tube between Woodford or Grange Hill and Liverpool Street.

You would create a contactless/Oyster account on TfL and add your bus pass and/or railcard to the account.

The back office would do the rest and you’d travel all over the Oystercard area using your contactless card.

I think that some local authorities could look at this concept seriously to encourage card holders to shop locally.

Stations Could Allow Freedom Passes Outside Zone 6

I’ll take Greenhithe for Bluewater station as an example.

The clue is in the station name.

Suppose that the Shopping Centre felt it would get a lot more business from Freedom Pass holders if it were to be in Zone 6, would it pay for the cost of tickets for Freedom Pass holders to attract them to their relaxed shopping experience.

It should be noted that there are already stations outside Zone 6, like Watford High Street and Shenfield stations, that allow Freedom Passes provided you use the London Overground or TfL Rail.

Other possibilities include.

  • Gravesend by an extended Crossrail.
  • Gatwick Airport
  • Watford Vicarage Road
  • Windsor

Who knows, which local authorities, events and attractions would find subsidising travel worthwhile.

Imagine for instance Winter-only Off Peak use of a Freedom Pass to say Brighton or Southend.


Travel in London is going to get even more interesting.

I look forward to the day, when I have a single card in my pocket!

October 14, 2016 - Posted by | Transport | , , ,

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.