TfL could dump London Oyster card in favour of bankcards, mobiles

The Oyster travel card, used on London’s public transport, could be replaced with an alternative ticketing system operated through mobile phones or bankcards.

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The Oyster travel card, used on London’s public transport, could be replaced with an alternative ticketing system operated through mobile phones or bankcards.

Transport for London (TfL), which runs the city’s buses and the underground, is examining alternatives to the Oyster travel card system after terminating its contract with supplier consortium TranSys.

TfL announced in August that it would end its contract early with Transys consortium, which includes EDS, Cubic, Fujitsu and WS Atkins. The move followed a series of outages with the Oyster system the month before, although TfL maintained the contract's closure was purely a cost cutting measure.

TfL is seeking one million pounds compensation for the losses incurred when two glitches hit the system in July.

Meanwhile, EDS has made a filing to SEC to prevent TfL from handing over the full contract to Cubic.

But TfL also announced it intends to split the travel card contract into different modules to be awarded separately to different suppliers. At a meeting of the London Assembly’s Budget and Performance Committee, the transport authority said it wants to move away from the private finance initiative style of deal towards small private contracts.

The Assembly also heard alternative systems to the current Oyster card system, including special bankcards and mobile phones containing an RFID chip. The Oyster brand could also be completely eliminated should the smartcard be replaced.

Will Judge, head of future ticketing at TfL, said the new ticketing system needed to be “contactless, fast and convenient”.

TfL has already trialled a large-scale near-field communications pilot in partnership with Barclaycard, Nokia and O2 using 500 Nokia 6131 mobile handsets incorporating Oyster smartcard technology.

TfL will take advantage of good practice elsewhere, Judge said. It also intends to add the contactless payments systems to London’s riverboat services next year.

 
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