Apple Pay 'Express Transit' mode arrives in London, meaning iPhones can be pressed straight onto Tube payment machines

Andrew Griffin
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the new iPhone 11 as he delivers the keynote address during a special event on September 10, 2019 in the Steve Jobs Theater on Apple's Cupertino, California campus: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple has fixed two of the major frustrations with using iPhones to pay on the Tube.

The company is rolling out an "Express Transit" mode for its phones and Apple Watch, meaning users won't have to get them ready before they tap them on the card reader.

It is also allowing devices to be used even when the battery has died. Until now, a device dying has meant being unable to tap out and potentially running into a fine, but it will now continue to work for five hours after the battery runs out of charge.

But both features are limited to more recent phones. Tapping out without battery requires an iPhone XS or later, and an Apple Watch Series 4 or later; Express Transit needs an iPhone 6s or newer.

Before the Express Transit mode arrived, iPhone users had to double press a button on their phone and then authenticate the payment with their finger or face. That led to queues at Tube stations as travellers got their devices ready to pay.


Now it will work in the same way as a contactless bank card, needing only to be tapped on the reader, as long as the new mode is switched on.​

A notification is being sent out to users in the London area making them aware of the feature.

The move comes as one in five contactless journeys across TfL are now made using a smart device.

"It is a step change in the way we think about how to charge people, the notion of having to understand what ticket you need, do I need an Oyster Card," explained Mike Tuckett, head of transformation delivery for TfL.

"We're just trying to sweep that away and make it super simple."

Other transactions using Apple Pay will still need to be authenticated in the usual way, using Face ID or Touch ID before making a purchase.

It's the first time Express Transit has been enabled in the UK, after countries including China and Japan, as well as a trial in New York.

Additional reporting by agencies

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