Global Contactless Transit Push Continues in London, Beijing (April 16, 2013)
The global move toward cashless payments for mass transit continued this week, with news out of two major world cities. London soon could be banning cash payments on its iconic buses, according to the BBC, while Beijing’s subway has debuted a new payment system that uses sound waves to enable ticket purchases via smartphone.
In London, the city’s transportation agency is hoping to eliminate cash as a payment option for bus fares, according to a briefing for the city’s mayor obtained by the BBC. Currently, only 1.5 percent of bus fares—or 24 million trips per year—are paid with cash, down from 25 percent in 2000, according to the agency, Transport for London. The city’s contactless Oyster card is now the dominant form of bus fare payment, and a new system launched last December enabling riders to pay using contactless payment cards is likely to reduce cash payments even further; thus far, 10,000 payments a day have been made using the new contactless system. The transport agency said in the briefing that eliminating cash payments entirely could reduce lines, speed journey times and increase safety.
Meanwhile, in Beijing, a new system was launched earlier this week in two stations of the city’s subway system that enables riders to pay using a smartphone wallet app from online payment provider Alipay that emits a sound wave to connect with ticketing machines. The system, which will be expanded to the rest of the Beijing subway soon, is similar to the one recently expanded in Bucharest, Romania. Contactless mass transit payment initiatives also are underway in Salt Lake City, Chicago and Singapore, among other cities across the globe.