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More Cities Could Soon Adopt London’s Contactless Transit Payment System

A new deal makes the technology more widely available.  

A woman pays her Tube fare with her phone at Hammersmith Station in London. (Credit: Transport for London) 

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The contactless ticketing system used throughout London’s public transit network will be coming to major cities across the world as part of a £15 million deal.

The agreement between Transport for London (TfL) and fare tech company Cubic Transportation Systems (CTS), which brought NYC the MetroCard, will also help London freeze fares for the next four years.

CTS already provides smartcard ticketing systems to a number of cities, including Vancouver and Chicago, but hasn’t yet expanded its contactless technologies further than London and TfL. Now cities using CTS will be able to tailor the contactless system for their public transit network.

The system allows anyone with a contactless credit or debit card to tap it on readers in stations and on buses in place of a ticket. At the end of each day, the system calculates distance traveled and deducts the correct amount, applying a daily or weekly cap if the rider traveled often enough. Mobile devices that do contactless payments can also be used.

TfL has been a major leader in contactless fare payment. The contactless payment system was first launched on London’s buses in December 2012 and expanded to cover Tube and rail services in September 2014. According to TfL, about one in 10 contactless transactions in the UK are now made on TfL’s network, making it one of the largest contactless merchants in the world.

The deal is the first of a number of planned agreements to sell TfL’s expertise at home and abroad, a key promise of Mayor Sadiq Khan. “I made a firm commitment to sell Transport for London’s expertise around the globe, Khan said in a release. “We will use the income from those deals for further investment in new infrastructure and to freeze TfL fares.”

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Kelsey E. Thomas is a writer and editor based in the most upper-left corner of the country. She writes about urban policy, equitable development and the outdoors (but also about nearly everything else) with a focus on solutions-oriented journalism. She is a former associate editor and current contributing editor at Next City.

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Tags: subwayslondon

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