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What happened to legal tender?

Transport for London has announced that its buses will soon no longer accept our nation's bank notes and coins as payment. If this is legal, it shouldn't be. I was consulted and expressed strong views (be fair, I have few weak ones).

If one of my daughters is in a seedy area of town (they are young and prone to hipsterish views of what's entertaining), her Oyster Card is in the purse stolen from her in a club and her credit card is the subject of the latest bank technology failure I want her to be able to use emergency notes secreted about her person to get home safely. In this Cinderella City where the Tube bizarrely closes down at a puritanical hour, night buses matter. The only mode of transport more dangerous than a TfL night bus is a long walk home.

TfL says it has trained its drivers to adopt a consistent approach to protecting the vulnerable in such circumstances. Firstly, the word 'vulnerable' has been so corrupted by our unintelligentsia that I never want it applied to me or mine. Britain's 'vulnerable' are often the entitlement-obsessed protégés of our political gangsters. At best, they are the innocent excuses the gangsters use to extend the scope of their violent reign. That's not us, buddy.

Secondly, have they ever watched a London bus driver interact with his/her passengers? I have witnessed crudeness and obscenity on some occasions and jaded indifference on others - e.g. in response to a chavvy mother refusing to fold her stroller to make way for a disabled person in a wheelchair. The TfL policy is clear, as was no doubt the driver's training, but life is short and she couldn't be arsed.

Thirdly, this policy will ensure free travel for pushy, lying, latently-aggressive criminal sorts while honest, respectable girls - their potential victims - will not lower themselves to ask for a bus drivers' mercy. And, of course, fares will rise for the honest. Put like that, I suddenly see that it's stupid of me to be surprised. After all, thats pretty much the template for public policy in modern Britain.


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Perhaps the Painettes should wrap their emergency money around an emergency Oyster card.

The last time I ventured onto a bus my legal tender was refused. The fare was £2.10. The driver looked at my £5 note like I'd handed him a banker's draft. I was given a note explaining how I should pay my fare post hoc.


Tom your reverence for the law and legal tender does you credit, but the truth is TfL has seen through the farce that is supposedly legal tender and wants none of it. Consider a large government-owned agency publicly stating it has no use for the pretty pieces of paper and metal tokens that we plebs consider "money". Perhaps they are smarter than us?

They have realised that the full faith and credit of the Bank of England holding such wonderful collateral as mortgage backed securities issued by Britannia building society and Northern Rock perhaps means those pretty pieces of paper are worth not what is printed on the face, but very close to the value of the paper and ink. What do you think that could mean?

Instead they prefer the international community's agreed substitute for the pretty pieces of paper, that being electrons on a spreadsheet, now that is truly something that everybody would exchange their lifes work for.

Do not despair, everything is proceeding as planned.

Then again, good father that you undoubtedly are, I wonder why you would not throw Miss P the keys to your Ferrari as she leaves for the club in Brixton or Shoreditch, with the cheery admonition "to have fun, drive safely, and if you drink, take a cab home and leave the Ferrari parked on the street. I will retrieve it tomorrow sweety." :( gulp.

Sam Duncan

I've written and re-written this comment several times based on my shaky knowledge of legal tender in Britain, but Wikipedia has the wording I was looking for:

Legal tender is solely for the guaranteed settlement of debts and does not affect any party's right of refusal of service in any transaction.

In other words, it's not what most people think it is. The amount in question also affects what's legal tender and what isn't, and there are no legal tender banknotes in Scotland at all, but it's all there in the article.

james higham

Good to see this one tackled. Sounds like accidents waiting to happen among the nightlifers.

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