When the pandemic struck in 2020, Transport for London stopped accepting cash at around 70 per cent of London Underground stations, most DLR stations, and all London Overground, TfL Rail and Emirates Air Line ticket offices.
These changes were implemented to protect staff and customers from handling cash, whilst also managing social distancing by reducing queuing and congregating at ticket machines and ticket offices.
However, this change created additional barriers for blind and partially sighted passengers, in some cases preventing independent travel.
London Vision held a consultation with 35 blind and partially sighted passengers in December 2020 to gather views and opinions on the change. You can read more about the consultation here.
London Vision submitted an official response to TfL detailing how the proposed changes to make the network permanently cashless will negatively impact passengers with sight loss.
We shared the consultation responses with TfL, and in early 2021 TfL said that it would pause the move to make more stations cashless.
TfL response and statement
TfL continued to monitor the arrangements closely, and commissioned the independent research agency, 2CV, to explore how cash is used in wider society and on the transport network.
The research focussed specifically on groups of customers with protected characteristics and people on low incomes. The results of this research can be read here.
TfL shared with London Vision the following statement: –
“Having carefully considered this research, the public health situation and the feedback that you and other stakeholders have helpfully provided, we plan to start reinstating cash acceptance from today at those stations on the Tube and the DLR where it was removed for pandemic-related reasons. The process of reinstating cash at all affected stations is likely to take a few weeks, and we will update you on our progress by 21 July. On the DLR, cash will be accepted at every station where it was accepted before the pandemic, but the number of available machines at each station may vary due to reliability issues.
“We also plan to reinstate cash where it was removed from ticket offices on London Overground, TfL Rail and the Emirates Air Line.
“The only exceptions to cash reinstatement on the Tube network are Finsbury Park and Tottenham Hale, which are temporarily not accepting cash due to redevelopment work, and Canary Wharf, where the ticket machines are already cashless. There are Oyster Ticket Stops nearby these stations for those customers who need to use cash. There are also some DLR stations where cash has not been accepted since before the pandemic. These are Bow Church, Devons Road, South Quay, Crossharbour, Westferry, Canary Wharf, Limehouse and All Saints.
“Separately to this, we have a requirement to replace ticket machines specifically on the DLR, as they are ageing and becoming unfit for purpose. We will keep you updated on the timeframes for this work and would, of course, engage with you on any proposals that affect cash acceptance on the DLR.
“It is clear, from both the research and the valuable feedback we have received throughout engagement with a number of stakeholders, that any further, future changes to cash acceptance would need to be carefully considered, including considering the impact on those customers for whom cash remains vital in allowing them to use our services.
“At the same time, it is widely accepted that there is a clear trend in society towards less cash use, which we have seen borne out in the steadily decreasing numbers of people paying to travel on our network with cash over recent years. We also received very few customer comments or complaints during the spell of temporary cashless operation.
“We will therefore continue to monitor customer trends, alongside other considerations including local requirements and our financial situation, to ensure we continue to strike the right balance in the future”.
London Vision would like to thank everyone who participated in the consultation and took the time to email and call with your views. We are sure you are delighted with this news.
However, considering TfL’s statement, it is very important to share when you have been compromised, or when a service is not meeting your needs.
It is important that complaints and problems are recorded to ensure that TfL services are fit for purpose and that changes made do not negatively impact certain travellers.
We hope you find this update useful.
Thank you from the London Vision team.
If you have been impacted by TfL stations going cashless, please get in touch with Bhavini Makwana on firstname.lastname@example.org