Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Oysters on Toast at the Budget Committee


Yesterday's budget committee heard from TfL about the future of the Oystercard.

Over the summer, the Oyster IT system crashed three times, enabling passengers to travel for free and losing TfL a large amount of revenue. Transys, the consortium who provide Oyster under a 1998 PFI contract, paid a considerable sum in compensation. This incident just confirmed TfL's decision to retender the contract in 2010, a decision that had already gained momentum before the failures.

In future TfL will seek shorter contracts, to reflect the pace of innovation, and breaking the package up, so as to encourage specialists to take on different parts of the task. They expect to save money by avoiding expensive PFI financing, and by saving money as technology gets cheaper. They think there are around half a dozen contractors with relevant experience of providing similar technology in other cities.

Future development of Oyster also looks exciting, with plans to allow its use on river services and to enable the purchase of small items, for example coffee and newspapers, during the journey. Ultimately Oyster could be loaded onto mobile phones which would be scanned as passengers passed through platform gates.

The Oyster brand is the property of Transys, so a rebranding exercise could be necessary if agreement cannot be reached with TfL, but they do not expect this to be expensive or to disrupt journeys.

The TfL experts were very impressive, which has not always been the case...

4 comments:

weggis said...

Wodger,

Now that I can’t get bus ticket strips I’ve bin forced to get one of those Oyster thingies. I’m due for a free one soon, don’t disappoint me.

Anyway, there I am sitting on the bus wondering. These things are supposed to apply the cheapest ticket rate. How do they do that? It can’t be embedded in the card itself (can it?) so I’m thinking every London Bus must have a wifi link to a central computer somewhere?

Is that the case? And how much does it cost?

Oh! BTW, I encountered a Route Master bus on the way home from my son's today.

John M Ward said...

The scheme started after I moved out of London, so I never did know why it was called "Oyster". Interesting stuff, all of this, by the way...

I have been trying to think of a suitable non-trademarked name (to avoid future re-branding after this time), but all I have come up with so far is "Bus, Rail And Tube Ticket", or BRATT (!)

I'd better keep thinking...

morris hickey said...

But Weggis - you could have had a free one when you were 60 - you don't have to wait to 65 any more......

weggis said...

No Morris, that's the State Pension. Something that the Feministas have ensured that my daughter, but not her mother, will have to wait for a further 5 years.