This morning, LBC broadcast another installment of its occasional phone-in, Ask Boris, hosted by London’s occasional mayor, Boris Johnson and regular presenter Nick Ferrari.
Mandy, a bus driver from Croydon, phoned in halfway through the programme. The official LBC Live Blog states that the call went as follows:
09:28 – On no cash for buses – from bus driver Mandy (who also said thank you as it will mean no more muggings)
Boris: I think Mandy as you will know bus drivers are already pretty flexible, if it is late at night and there is no way… during the day we will make sure that people are aware they need their card topped up and we are looking at the shop system to make sure there is more coverage for people to top up.
[On one touch bank card being used]
It is fantastic, I tried to do that, it will not try to take money from both a one touch bank card and an Oyster card.
[What about tourists?]
You can pay with credit cards – if you are a tourist and it is overwhelming probable that you will have a bank card.
Oyster readers on buses will not try to charge both your contactless debit card and your Oyster card – Boris said so. Except, he didn’t. Then he did. This is what was actually said:
Johnson: Can we go to Mandy – Mandy in Croydon, is she still there?
Ferrari: Go ahead, Mandy.
Johnson: Good morning.
Mandy: Good morning. On behalf of all London bus drivers I would like to say thank you, first of all, for getting rid of cash.
Johnson: Oh, right.
Mandy: No more muggings. But my question is: How is it going to impact on the passenger? How are they going to be able to pay when their Oyster says there’s no more money on it?
Ferrari: This is the idea that buses will go cashless in…remind me when that is, Mr Mayor? This summer, the buses will go cashless?
Johnson: Summer, yes.
[Ferrari and Johnson talk over each other]
Ferrari: Cash fares on buses will fall to over 1% a year. Mandy, you’e clearly a bus driver so you’re at the coal-face. You’re obviously pleased because your security is enhanced by the mayor’s decision but somebody arrives…
Mandy: Very much enhanced.
Ferrari: Well, that’s great news. Someone who’d got tenpence on their Oyster is in trouble. Mr Mayor?
Johnson: Well, I think, Mandy, as you will know, bus drivers already are pretty flexible. If somebody is in desperate straits and, you know, it’s late at night and there’s no earthly way they can get the cash or get the cash on their Oyster card…
Mandy: Well, we’re obliged to allow them, late at night…
Johnson: I think I’m right in saying…
Mandy: During the day…
Johnson: During the course of the day, we will make sure everybody is aware that they’ve gotta have their Oyster card topped up and we are looking at the Oyster ticket shop network to see if there are additional places where we can help people to top up their Oyster cards, especially in outer London. So we’re trying to make sure that there is more coverage for people who may run out of cash on their Oyster card during the day.
Mandy: And will you be able to do an announcement like you did in the Olympics? Will you be able to do a pre-announcement on the bus making sure that everybody is aware that we are going cashless and that they use their one-touch banker’s cards, because most people still don’t know that they can use a one-touch banker’s card.
Johnson: I know, I did it the other day, it’s fantastic! I got on the bus and I waved my…unfortunately it tried to take money both from my Oyster card and from my bank card but it won’t do…I just want to reassure all listeners with touchless bank cards it won’t do that, will it, Mandy? It’s technically impossible. Can I just reassure all listeners it won’t take money from both your cards…
Mandy: Yeah, it comes up that there’s more than one card there. It does not take it.
Johnson: That’s right, so what I did was, I took out the Oyster card and I took it from the bank card and that worked fantastically well. Since lots of people have bank cards, we think that’ll be a great improvement, we think that’ll be very, very…
Mandy: Yes. But could you do…
Johnson: We will do, we will do, we are…I think we are doing some big promo.
[Ferrari and Johnson talk over each other]
Ferrari: “Hello, folks, Mayor Johnson…” – can we have one of those again?
Johnson: I don’t know whether there’s going to be overwhelming public support for that but I will talk to TfL.
Mandy: Actually, it really worked during the Olympics…
Johnson: It did, it did. Mandy, I will ask TfL very politely…
Ferrari: Do you drive your bus in Croydon, Mandy, or are you in the City?
Mandy: I’m a City driver. I drive a big route.
Johnson: All right, fantastic, well thank you very much, Mandy. Thank you.
Sudden reverse ferret from Boris Johnson as he realises he’s put his foot in it.
TfL were obviously listening to this broadcast as the following appeared in my email in-box at 10:01, 33 minutes after Mandy’s phone call to LBC:
Important Oyster card reminder
I am writing to remind you to only touch the card you intend to pay with on the yellow card reader. Keeping your Oyster cards and any contactless payment cards separate helps to avoid ‘card clash’.
If you touch the reader with a wallet or purse containing lots of cards, this may lead to ‘card clash’ and the ticket gates not opening, slowing down your journey. It could also result in payment being taken from a card you did not intend to use. This could currently happen on buses but cannot happen on London Underground, DLR, London Overground, Tramlink and National Rail services until contactless payment is introduced later this year.
We will let you know well in advance when contactless payment will be available across the rest of the network. Using contactless will mean you don’t have to top up or buy a ticket, so you can get on board quicker.
Desperate knee-jerk reaction from TfL as Boris Johnson, Chair of TfL, does his best to sabotage their contactless propaganda campaign:
Bus users have really taken to using Contactless payment cards, 8.4m journeys now at around 40,000 a day http://t.co/QNRHYlistC
— Transport for London (@TfLOfficial) February 3, 2014
Use of contactless cards on TfL buses has been woefully under-target so TfL can well do without Mayor Johnson’s big mouth.
TfL is going ahead with the withdrawal of cash fares on buses, despite the fact that only a third of respondents to TfL’s “consultation” were in favour.
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