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July 8, 2014

London cabbies may be forced to take cards by 2016

London taxi drivers could be forced to accept debit and credit cards by 2016 under proposals made by Transport for London (TfL).

By Ellie Chambers

London taxi drivers could be forced to accept debit and credit cards by 2016 under proposals made by Transport for London (TfL).

Many cab drivers choose not to accept card payments because of the additional costs of installing and running card terminals.

Leon Daniels, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, said: "We are always keen to utilise technology to improve the experience of our passengers. Currently around half of the 23,000 taxis in the capital can already accept card payments.

"We are exploring a proposal to make this a mandatory requirement across the entire taxi fleet from 2016."

The proposals would also see TfL scrap the surcharge customers have to pay when using their cards by including the average cost of a card transaction in the standard fare – meaning that all customers would pay the same rate regardless of payment method.

Daniels said: "The proposal would also see card transaction fees considered when we calculate overall taxis fares – meaning that passengers would pay the same fare regardless of how they chose to pay."

Recent TfL polling suggests almost 90% of passengers would back the move and TfL also said it would help close the gap between app-based firms such as Hailo and Uber and drivers who prefer not to sign up to third party services.

The TfL board will be asked at its September meeting to approve a public consultation on introducing compulsory card acceptance from 2016.

The move will be seen by many as part of a drive by TfL to reduce cash payments on the London transport network.

The capital’s buses stopped accepting cash on 6 July, a move TfL said would save a cool £24m a year.

TfL is also now working on rolling out an open-loop card system across the whole network, meaning passengers can pay using their standard contactless payment card rather than the travel-specific Oyster card.

The open loop system is due to be rolled out for Tube, tram, DLR, Overground and National Rail services some time this year.

In May, Shashi Verma, director of customer experience told CI: "We are in pilot now. Towards the end of last year we had three months of testing with staff, and then in February we started to invite people from the payments industry, so employees of MasterCard, Visa, to join the pilot."

"There are now 1,000 non staff members using their banking contactless cards on the TfL network," he added.

"I can’t give you a more detailed time scale, because we just want to let it knock around for a bit. The more we do, the more data we can collect, the more information on payments behaviour we can feed back in."


Related articles:

Customers of Westfield London to pay for parking with PayPal

London buses turn cashless

London transport may accept payments via smart phones

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