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Contactless payments in sight for London buses, subway

125px-Flag_of_the_United_Kingdom.svgOnly one percent of bus trips on Transport for London are paid for with cash, and the company’s plan to expand its contactless debit and credit card program could mean buses will be completely contactless by year’s end.

Though contactless payments have only existed for a decade, only one percent of bus riders pay using cash, which is believed to delay boarding. TfL plans to expand its contactless program to subway transportation in the near future, Digital Journal reports.

The change may not come as welcome news to cash-only riders or individuals caught in emergency situations, but the final decision is in the hands of London Mayor Boris Johnson. London’s Labour Party, however, has urged TfL to keep cash as an alternate payment method.

“There may not be many occasions on which you need to pay in cash, but actually they could be crucial, and I think Transport for London [should] think again about taking this facility away, especially on the night buses,” Valerie Shawcross, a London assembly member, said.

A spokesperson for CompareandSave.com, a U.K.-based personal finance comparison site, said the “quick and simple” contactless payment systems allow “more and more” card issuers to offer contactless functionality.

“Whether that is good for Londoners, and the tourists who bring in huge revenues into the capital, is debatable,” the spokesperson said, Digital Journal reports. “Work might need to be undertaken to ensure there is a fail-safe to ensure people aren’t stranded in London with hard currency in their wallets!”

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