Touch in and take to the Thames as contactless payment comes to the river

20 May 2016
"By enabling customers to pay for River Bus services using contactless cards, a crucial part of our wider plans for the river, we hope to open up the Thames to more people and help make journeys across the capital significantly easier for all"

From today (20 May), customers travelling on MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus services will be able to pay as you go using contactless payment cards, as part of TfL's continued investment in the river.

The payment method, which has already helped change the way people pay for bus, Tube, tram and most National Rail services across London, can now be used on all MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus routes, which cover around 28 kilometres of the Thames between Putney and Woolwich Arsenal.

Customers using contactless payment cards are charged the same adult rate pay as you go fare as using an Oyster card.

Cheaper than buying paper tickets

All they need to do is touch in on the card reader with their contactless payment card or mobile device - when asked to do so by a member of staff as they board - and then touch out again at the end of their journey, or when changing boats.

They will be charged for their journey based on the three easy-to-understand river fare zones - West, Central and East.

Around 500,000 journeys have been made along the Thames using pay as you go on Oyster cards since it was introduced on MBNA Thames Clippers River Bus services last September.

As well as being more convenient for customers, using Oyster also offers cheaper fares than buying a paper ticket from the ticket office and saves time on queuing.

Better use of the river

The introduction of contactless payments is just one of a number of developments being taken forward by TfL to help encourage better use of the river and increase passenger journeys along the Thames to 12 million a year by 2020.

In recent years, a range of improvements have been delivered, including changes to the look of the piers, improved signage, better provision of live River Bus information and two pier extensions currently being carried out at Bankside and Westminster piers to create extra capacity and allow more boats to call there.

TfL has also made live River Bus information available on its website as well as to app developers at as part of its wider commitment to make the information it holds freely available to help Londoners and visitors get around easily.

Significantly easier for all

Andy Thompson, General Manager for River Services at TfL, said: 'There is no better way of experiencing London than by taking to the river. By enabling customers to pay for River Bus services using contactless cards, a crucial part of our wider plans for the river, we hope to open up the Thames to more people and help make journeys across the capital significantly easier for all.'

Sean Collins, CEO, MBNA Thames Clippers, said: 'MBNA Thames Clippers made significant investment last year delivering two new vessels to meet our growing demand. We plan to further invest in our fleet and staff to continue to deliver a fast, efficient and comfortable service, for passengers travelling through our fantastic city.

'The delivery of contactless is one of the biggest milestones in MBNA Thames Clippers' history and will significantly enhance the development of our ticketing system and further improve the passenger pre-boarding experience. I would very much like to thank Transport for London for their support in delivering this.'

Increasingly popular technology

Patricia Brassil Poole, Head of Partner Management at MBNA, said: "Contactless payment is really taking off and MBNA has been at the forefront of that, providing customers with compatible services on every platform at launch.

"We are proud sponsors of the MBNA Thames Clippers, so we welcome the arrival of the contactless revolution. The introduction of this increasingly popular technology ensures that the river - London's main thoroughfare for centuries - remains an important and relevant part of the transport network as the habits of commuters and holidaymakers change."

Gordon Innes, CEO of London & Partners, the Mayor's official promotional company for London, said: 'The Thames is arguably the most recognisable landmark in London which draws millions of visitors from all over the world. But it's also increasingly being seen as one of the best ways to travel around and see our great city.

'The new contactless payment facility will make it even easier for visitors and Londoners alike to hop on a MBNA Thames Clippers to Greenwich or Putney for the day, or use the 'Tate to Tate' shuttle to visit both galleries for example.'

For more information about TfL's work to improve river services in London, please visit


Notes to Editors:

  • London River Services (LRS) is part of TfL and is involved with passenger services on the Thames. LRS owns and operates eight passenger piers in London - Greenwich Pier, Tower Pier, Bankside Pier, Blackfriars Pier, Festival Pier, Embankment Pier, Westminster Pier and Millbank Pier - plus the Woolwich Ferry and infrastructure. LRS licenses independent boat operating companies to call at LRS piers
  • To get live pier information via TfL's open data, developers can sign up for free at

About MBNA Thames Clippers:

  • MBNA Thames Clippers is the leading River Bus service on the River Thames. Providing fast and frequent services to key London piers including North Greenwich for The O2, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, Tower, London Bridge, Embankment and London Eye for Waterloo. In April 2013 the company won the TfL contract to run the RB6 River Bus service from Putney to Blackfriars, a popular service with commuters
  • The company began in 1999 with one boat servicing 80 passengers a day between Greenland and Savoy piers. Now 16 years on numbers have significantly risen to over 3.8 million passengers in 2015. The fleet has substantially grown to 15 vessels, serving 20 piers across the capital
  • For more info visit