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TfL Contactless Pilot

When I signed up for this in November last year I was resigned to being told that my travel wasn’t enough to make a worthwhile contribution.  After all, around half my journeys are by bus which aren’t included in the rail trial and thus wouldn’t count towards daily capping.  Then in December the whole thing was put on hold thanks to the last minute fares revision changes.  So when I received an email last week inviting me to join the trial I was very excited.  My participants card arrived yesterday.

I’ve already completed the initial survey which took about 10 minutes (even though they said only 5), and made a journey to see how it worked.  Initial observations are positive and I intend to try and test various edge conditions to see how well they’ve worked it out.

The first difference is that when touching in or out on validators (not gates) the screen simply says “Accepted”.  The system has no way of knowing whether that’s an in or an out.  It’s a bit disconcerting not getting balance and fare figures, but I guess I’ll get used to that.  The online journey history is available as expected the next day and all seems fine so far.

4 Responses

  1. James Warn

    I recently signed up for the Contactless pilot and I assumed that they would work in exactly the same way as Oyster regarding continuation exits OSIs etc, I travelled from Highbury and Islington to White Hart Lane touching the continuation exit at Seven Sisters en route, but I was charged a fare from Highbury to Seven Sisters and an incomplete journey from White Hart Lane – I wondered if anyone else had had the same problems or was there was a missing routing table for contactless cards

  2. Hi James,

    That’s an issue you’ll need to feedback.

    Continuation exit is a flag set on the Oyster card which keeps the journey open. Contactless payments do not write to the card at all. I’d imagine that if you touched out on a gate at the same station within a few minutes they would handle it correctly, but the concept of touching mid-way through a journey might have been overlooked.

    It doesn’t alter my usual advice though which is never to touch a yellow reader mid journey unless you are walking between two stations where at least one of them is protected by gates. My current expreience suggests that OSIs work as published.

  3. Hi Mike, I recently tried to begin a journey from Seven Sisters to White Hart Lane however as soon as I touched in with my contactless card we were told that there were no trains and that we should use alternative routes, which for me would be a bus, and that tickets were being accepted on the bus, as I have a contactless card I questioned the station staff as to what the correct procedure should be to follow – they looked at me blankly and told me I’d have to touch in again on the bus and claim a refund – do you know what the correct procedure should be? I touched in at Seven Sisters, didn’t touch out, and then touched in on the bus, so I was charged £5.10 for the incomplete journey on the train and then the normal bus fare £1.45 should I have touched out? and then touched in on the bus? it would useful to know for future, or is this supposed to correct itself automatically or what is the process I should follow as I’m sure this must happen a lot when stations are closed

  4. Hi James,

    I guess you must be on the pilot as well then. If that had been a TfL service not working then I’d have some belief that it might sort itself out, but as it’s not you’ll have to chase it up. The helpdesk should sort out a refund, which as it’s contactless means you can view your history and explain why the journey was incomplete. When I did this it was sorted very quickly.

    For the future my recommendation would be to touch out again which should result in a cheapest single fare and then use the bus. You might still have to claim a refund, but it wouldn’t be as much. Also, it would cap still, so if you made lots of journeys you wouldn’t lose out at all. With Oyster you need to wait 2 minutes after touching in before touching out, so the same may be true for contactless, but I haven’t got round to testing that out yet.

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