The return of cash

21 June 2021

After a lobbying campaign of TfL, lasting a year, London TravelWatch got the news we’d been waiting for today – that the ability to pay by cash will start to be re-instated at all of the Underground, Overground and DLR stations where it was removed at the start of the pandemic.

Also, it looks like the internal battle within TfL over whether to keep cash has been settled, (at least for now), with no plans being brought forward for its permanent removal. Although we’ll be keeping an eye on what happens with ticket machines on the DLR, which are due for replacement.

This news is a huge win for London TravelWatch. And for London Assembly Members like Caroline Pidgeon, who’ve campaigned tirelessly for the retention of the option to pay by cash.

Last year London TravelWatch conducted research which showed what kind of Londoners would be affected by the removal of cash. This included the 260,000 adults in London without a bank account; children, some disabled and older people, those on low incomes trying to manage on a budget, as well as women fleeing domestic violence.

TfL’s own research that they’ve shared with us today, shows that 7% of Londoners would be unable to travel at all if they couldn’t pay in cash. And 11% would be uncertain if they could travel or not (that’s 16% when it comes to children).

London TravelWatch research also showed that many stations don’t have a ticket stop (usually a newsagents capable of topping up an Oyster card) nearby, leaving many people without the ability to pay by cash at all if they can’t pay at a station.

London TravelWatch were interviewed as part of TfL’s research into whether to remove cash and we told them that although the use of cash was on the wane, it was still an essential way of paying for many. And that until Tesco and B&Q stopped the option to pay by cash, TfL should keep it too, because transport is an essential service for many.

Other organisations making a similar case included Age UK London; disabled people’s organisation Transport for All and Alzheimer’s Society.

We’re really pleased that they’ve listened to us. And we’ll stay vigilant for any new plans to take away cash payment before people are ready.

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