London Vision cautiously welcomes Transport for London’s (TfL) announcement on 19 January 2021 that it will not push forward with the move to make all journeys on the network cashless at this time. London Vision is pleased that TfL took into account the responses to our December 2020 consultation, responses that clearly outlined some of fears and concerns blind and partially sighted people have about the move.
The proposal to make all journeys cashless would remove the option to pay in cash or top up at Overground, Underground and DLR stations, and promote the use of personal bank cards to travel on the network. Removing the option of paying or topping up at stations would leave local newsagents as the only place to top up oyster cards, and would make it very difficult for travellers to buy day tickets.
Requiring travellers to top up at newsagents could present additional access challenges for blind and partially sighted people. These challenges could include the need to learn new routes if the newsagent is not close to the station, general access issues such as whether the newsagent is guide dog friendly or easily accessible by wheelchair. Restricted newsagent opening times could present additional barriers for travellers who want to use cash.
We know some blind and partially sighted Londoners are very capable and confident accessing services online with the increase of Apple pay, chip and pin and contactless payments. However, we also know that there are many people with sight loss living in or visiting London, to whom this change would cause significant travel challenges. Essentially, a cashless only travel network could significantly hinder their independence, confidence and the ability to travel with ease.
To better understand the views on this issue, London Vision consulted with blind and partially sighted Londoners that use the network, as well Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, Rehab Officers, representatives of sight loss organisations in the capital and members of local sensory teams to gather feedback and opinion on the proposed changes.
To better understand the views on this issue, London Vision consulted with blind and partially
Some of the responses to the proposed move:
“This is terrible, this will affect the elderly and disabled significantly and if you are both then this will hit them hard. Many people I know do not have a bank account, they prefer cash and love the interaction to confirm that something has happened correctly”.- (Anonymous)
“No face-to-face contact is bad, there will be no interaction with everything moving online, this will get lonely, isolating, and difficult to ask for help. It is harder when you cannot see, it will stop people from going out”.- (D. S.)
“I believe taking away cash payments in a convenient place like a station will impact significantly on the visually impaired community, not just travel but also communication needs”.- (G. P.)
“I think the move away from cash is a retrograde and undesirable step. Not all people have bank accounts or debit cards”.- (I. S)
During the summer of last year, nearly 200 Overground, Underground and DLR stations were made cashless without any form of consultation in an attempt to make the system COVID safe. TfL will monitor this by checking feedback, however, there are no plans to re-instate these stations with the ability to accept cash at this time. In light of the responses, this is concerning and London Vision’s hopes that TfL will consider the feedback of some of its most vulnerable users.
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