Congestion charge payments crash after IBM takes over contract

London drivers were unable to pay the congestion charge online on Monday, following a system glitch after IBM took over the work from Capita.

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London drivers were unable to pay the congestion charge online on Monday, following a system glitch after IBM took over the work from Capita.

The problem emerged after IBM began a “significant upgrade” to the transport agency’s computer systems. IBM had spent the weekend - when no congestion charge is applicable - migrating data from Capita’s databases to its own systems, as it took over the work.

Computerworld UK understands there were issues with the new systems and some of the data matching between different programs. These were fixed the same day by applying software patches.

The technical glitch on Monday affected congestion charge registered users, whose credit card details are stored on the web system to enable quick payment. They were unable to make payments online after 6am, until the patches were fully applied and running by 3pm.

Payments were running as normal all day through other channels including mobile SMS and the call centre. Systems for payments at retailers were also unaffected, in spite of the service also moving from supplier Paypoint to Epay, and being extended to other retailers including BP and Sainsbury's.

A spokesperson at Transport for London, which operates the congestion charge, apologised for the online problem and insisted no registered drivers would be penalised if they had had problems paying.

She added that the glitch was “resolved by the afternoon and all of the new IBM systems are up and running as they should be”.

The IBM system upgrade is aimed at saving TfL £200 million on running costs by 2018.

Paul Robb, IBM public sector executive, said in 2007 when the deal was signed that IBM would use its “unique transformational capabilities and extensive experience of road charging and intelligent transportation systems”, which it partly gained from running traffic schemes in Stockholm and Singapore.

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