Public transport customers and organisations request cash acceptance

Back in January 2021 the Transport for London (TfL) authority has abandoned its initial plans to make the London Underground completely cash-free and the Swiss railway company BLS AG completed in September 2021 tests with cashless TVMs showing that many customers still would like to pay cash. What are the reasons and challenges behind these findings?

In May 2020 a total of 200 of the 262 London Underground Tube stations stopped taking cash amid concerns the sharing of banknotes and coins could spread Covid and to reduce queues at ticket machines. TfL had initially planned to make all Under- and Overground stations cashless, but a campaign together with the related research by travel watchdog “London TravelWatch” reversed this decision. Their research successfully argued that an entirely cashless transport system would affect over 260,000 adults (7% of Londoners) without bank accounts. London TravelWatch’s research furthermore showed that people without a bank account, people on low incomes, children, disabled and elderly people would be negatively affected by TfL’s initial decision. Alongside locals, the policy reversal also recognizes the by Mayor Sadiq Khan launched “Let’s Do London” campaign to encourage domestic tourism in London, which is likely to increase the number of passengers wanting to use cash.

The Swiss railway company BLS AG instead tested new cashless TVMs from end of March until end of June 2021 to determine how passengers use cashless and contactless ticket purchasing. Customers’ experiences were collected via an online survey and on-site interviews. After having completed the tests, BLS AG communicated the results by saying that the new machine was mainly used by digital-savvy passengers. The fact that the machine doesn’t accept cash was not a problem for most of them, however, the results of the interviews showed that many would still like to pay cash. At the beginning of 2022 at the earliest, BLS will therefore decide together with its partners how it intends to replace the current ticket machines, considering the test’s findings.

As a long-term OEM components manufacturer for validating banknotes in the field of fare collection, we are aware of the challenges coming along with processing cash transactions. In response to this, we offer with our CI Note Line product family, a banknote module geared to high availability, modularity, and service-friendliness with the aim to ease operator’s transaction and service costs. Transport associations rely on a jointly developed solution together with our partner ICA Traffic.



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