back to article TfL considers life without Oyster

Transport for London may replace its Oyster card with with new ticketing systems operated through mobile phones or bankcards. Will Judge, head of future ticketing at TfL, told the London Assembly's Budget and Performance Committee on 21 October that the body is looking at various technologies and providers to take over from …


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  1. John Doe


    ...its replacement uses a design that isn't easily hacked/cracked.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Nooooooooooo to mobiles as cash

    It is bad enough that phones are being nicked because of all the stuff they have. I had my phone nicked, including a cheapo 25 quid one. I think that forcing people to flash their mobiles in front of everyone to pay is a bad idea.

    What else will they store on the mobile? Our full identification? I can imagine id thieves stealing mobiles to take over the world because they have all our details.

    It is no wonder that I had a phobia of databases when I was young. Staying anonymous as I am forced to work with database applications.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Oyster works ok, just upgrade the cards over the next couple of years to get rid of the weak crypto and keep improving the service incrementally. I as a Londoner do not want to have to "rebrand" every 5 years because the mayor at the time has a spat with the provider.

  4. Mark

    Contactless and fast


    Make the underground free to ride on.

    Contactless and fast.

    Raise business taxes in the CBD for Zone1 and give enough time to the companies to reduce pay scales to cover this new reduction in pay NEEDS for London workers. This ensures that overall the businesses aren't priced out of business. For shops, being cheaper to get around london will mean more shoppers and more profits. That should cover the higher rates.

  5. It wasnt me


    That there be sense youre talking !

    Im not a londoner, but it seems to me Oyster is brilliant. Incrementally fixing the problems has to be far cheaper than implementing a new system every time some managment nutjob gets the painters in.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Just when ATOC, on behalf of all the railway companies, were working to adopt Oyster TfL get into this position.

    Seamless rail transport ticketing is required - my goodness, the "industry" can afford to develop a robust system for SMS ticketing (much of the money will be spent on anti-fraud measures). Unless ATOC / RSP are involved, this will be yet another isolated solution.

  7. Simon Painter


    Will everyone get their fiver back when they give back their Oyster card?

  8. druck Silver badge


    You can bet the replacement system will also track your every movement and make it available to the police, so do you really want it linked to your phone or bank card too?

  9. Anonymous Coward

    This is the evolution of Oyster, not it's replacement

    This report is rather misleading. The present Oyster system is not about to be ditched - instead TfL is looking ahead at how the Oyster smartcard ticketing system might evolve. (One of the issues on the table will obviously be the problematic proprietary crypto currently in use on the cards - I'd say it's likely that the ITSO standard for smartcards, which wasn't around back when Oyster began, will be phased in to replace the MiFare card system that is currently in use.)

    Whether the system is still branded "Oyster" is a separate matter - but the brand name and the underlying technology are fundamentally discrete issues (the difference between style and substance, to put it simply).

  10. Andrew Kelly


    Why doesn't the government implant a chip in all of us? Could be used for all sorts of ID purposes.

    Mine's the one with my oyster card in the other one.

  11. A J Stiles
    Thumb Up

    @ Mark

    That's an excellent idea, and there is a sound economic basis for making public transport free -- or, at the worst, charging a simple flat fare.

    However, it's almost certainly not going to happen in the present climate, where every penny that can be pinched is pinched. Last time I was in London, they even expected people to pay to use the toilets! If they expect us to pay for biological necessities, there's no way they're not going to expect us to pay for social necessities.

    In fact, getting back to the outrageous issue of toilet fees, I'm quite sure that once they find a way to charge more for a dump than a piss, they will.

  12. Joe Montana

    Not phone based, please

    I would hate a mobile phone based ticketing system, having to have my phone on display at every station is hardly going to discourage theft, and i quite often find myself with an empty battery which could leave me stranded.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    RFID-enabled bank cards

    I expect they'll use RFID-enabled bank cards as the replacement. I've already seen these in use at some airport shops.

  14. Matthew

    Anonymous Cowards

    I bet they regret allowing people to buy Oyster cards without providing photo ID - 'cos terrorists can now travel around undetected.....

    Bastard surveilance state!

  15. Dapprman

    Half the problem is the barrier design, not the card ...

    In Hong Kong (Octopus card - the original one) and Tokyo (Speica) the barriers are rotating bars, so only one person can pass at any time and the system stacks up successful pass requests. The tube ones are large, heavy paddles that and ignore cards swiped too soon after the last ones, net result being, try to go through too quickly, you get the paddles slamming hard in to you, get blocked in by the person behind, and during rush hour create chaos. Happens all too often. Pile of crap design really (the barrier)

  16. ElFatbob

    @ John Doe

    like cash?

    Ah, but then you can't spy on people with cash....

  17. Anonymous Coward

    I can see it now ...

    ... as some hoodie "home boy" fumbles about for the phone he has NOT nicked to get on the bus.

    This is not Tokyo people!

  18. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Yeah make it free...that'll work!

    Didn't they do that with buses and every little rat-boy udner 13 with a knife to grind and a spray can to paint with, started causing grief 'cos it was better to be on the buses than sat in a drafty shelter, when they had nowhere else to go! Let's not even start with the dossers getting high on White Lightning and looking for a nice cosy place to kip for the day!

    Mobile phone? I have a 5 year old SonyEricson that works perfect thanks, I do not want to have to shell 150 quid for some amazing techno gadget with some much cack on it that it it goes flat after 25 mins 'cos I couldn't find the sodding off button, just so I can ride the transport system!

    Most trains companies are still using paper tickets, I have a "paper" gold card with underground access on it, the train companies were supposed to upgrade to something like Oyster about 18 months ago. never happend. Now TfL are signing off Oyster, looks like we'll have to wait another 5 years for the train companies to decide what they want to do about getting rid of "paper" travelcards!

    </Daily Mail mode>

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Half the problem is the barrier design, not the card...

    But in Hong Kong and Tokyo (and Paris) you cannot use the normal barriers with your luggage (because they rotate), whereas with the LU paddle barriers you can, provided the luggage is of the cabin bag variety.

    In their defense, HK, Tokyo and Paris have sufficient (and planned) luggage pass barriers too. The ones in the LU for use by luggage are woefully inadequate, and the staff manning them are not helpful (except at certain stations where new barriers are installed and there doesn't seem to be a problem).

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Astonishing that LU doesn't own the brand...

    But what can you expect from organisations who don't 'get' it where trademarks are concerned...

    I hope whoever drew up THAT contract is fired (oh, hang on, Ken's out already anyway).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    tracking devices

    my oyster is anonymous thanks - only top up with cash. a mobile solution would (1) require a mobile phone (2) link your phone number/IMEI to your oyster.

    no thanks big brother!

  22. Steve
    Thumb Down

    @ Mark

    I cycle in London, the money I save by not buying a travel card enables me to pay the extra I need for the higher rent in Zone 2.

    I would have to move further out and use public transport under your suggestion, not good, I don't want to live in the badlands again. :(

  23. Chris Hamilton
    Paris Hilton

    Oyster is a brilliant system.

    Anyone who has ever tried to use the myriad of paper ticket types available for travel on RATP Metro, Tram, Bus, RER and Transilien services in Paris will agree with me. They don't yet have a contactless PAYG system in place yet, but it's coming.

    I just hope it is a simple software upgrade that is required to allow the current readers to accept any new type of card. I don't give a monkeys about the cost to TfL and Londons taxpayers, but as a railway employee I would be very much aggrieved if FGW, SWT and others had to implement new technologies at the expense of the British taxpayer, only 2-3 years after first implementing them. All because Boris has had a falling out with TranSys.

    Paris, because I am still waiting for her to start accepting RATP NaviGo cards for a free ride.

  24. Dangermouse


    The barriers ignore cards swiped too soon?

    I'm sorry, but that is absolute crap.

    I travel on the underground all the time, using Oyster, and following the person in front through the barriers. And guess what? You can go through *without* the "paddles slamming hard in to you" if you have at least half a brain cell, are not a moron and (pay attention 'cos this here is the key) manage to touch the card reader properly.

    And chaos dosen't ensue.

  25. Deebster

    @ A J Stiles

    Paying to pee isn't a new idea - why do you think it's called "spending a penny"?

  26. Dr. E. Amweaver

    Since it's hot and massively crowded...

    Shouldn't they just rebrand it as "Hell plc" and start accepting mortal souls?

  27. Mark

    @A J Stiles

    Of course you have to pay to use the toilets! You're done for travelling without a ticket.

    Now if they could only stop the toilets letting people in while I'm having a pee and then trundling off. I'm always peeing on my shoes when it starts off...

  28. Mark


    Every time you change SOMETHING, SOMEONE will get hurt.

    You aren't the world. You aren't the people. Just because it's bad for YOU doesn't mean it's bad. And if needs be, you can ask for more money anyway. Or not work in London.

    Sad but true.

  29. Gerry


    Sure, but some thieving bar-steward rail companies are now charging 30p (to you youngsters out there that's 72 pence in old money) even if all you want is a slash. Talk about taking-the-piss.

  30. James Prior


    Paper ticketing works perfectly in Geneva so who says we all need to go contactless?

    It helps that they don't use any barriers and don't really do ticket inspectors (except on the yellow boats crossing the lake) .. nice and simple - pay for the number of hours you want to travel and that gets you unlimited travel on any form of transport during that period. Strangely you don't get as many people trying to travel for free as well ..

    Even better, as a tourist you get all that free during your stay.

  31. Anonymous Coward

    Some actual facts to intersperse with all these ill-informed assertions

    @AC 09:53 Re: Fiasco

    The rail companies and ATOC have generally been anything but willing to go along with rolling out Oyster Pay-As-You-Go for mainline services in London - only recently have they started warming to it and accepting it on a number of National Rail routes.

    But don't get this confused with wider ideas about ITSO smartcard ticketing across National Rail - the newer franchise commitments for many train companies include a requirement that they work on and eventually offer smartcard ticketing. The problem is that no-one is really co-ordinating these efforts - the cards may comply with the ITSO standard but that still leaves an enormous number of other questions about who will be responsible for what, as there doesn't appear to be any real unified national leadership in the rail industry on this issue.

    Of course this matter is related to Oyster, but TfL cannot be expected to piggyback the nationwide smartcard scheme on their own Oyster system.

    @Stefan Paetow 12:35

    The contract for the Prestige ticketing project - which encompasses the Oyster smartcards - was signed by London Transport in the mid 1990's, a long time before TfL came into existence and Ken Livingstone became Mayor in 2000. I very much doubt that the new leadership at TfL would have signed a contract where they did not control the brand, but they didn't have much choice about the matter as it was inherited from the old regime.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Half the problem is the barrier design, not the card...

    Regarding the barrier design, tell me why the newer barriers in Hong Kong stations are of the side-sliding variety these days then, instead of the older rotary turnstile design!

    Besides, the system used in London is pretty similar to Hong Kong: they queue up validated cards fine.

    Now on the otherhand, if you've been to neighbouring Shenzhen onto their underground system, their ticketing/barrier/validation system was utter shite. Maybe it's improved now... (I noticed they have contactless cards now, as an alternative to those silly round tokens)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Screw this...

    I will not use my phone or credit card to pay because that is NOT ANONYMOUS. There is already too much .gov surveillance without adding more.

    I use one of those oyster cards you can get from a vending machine for £5 and have not registered it, with it in an RFID blocking wallet when not in use. If you can't get simple disposable cards with the new system, I won't use it, simple as that.

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Tokyo Has The Best Barriers

    Have the people above criticising the barriers in Tokyo been there recently? They are the best design I have seen.

    They are kept open by default, and assuming you swipe your ticket correctly they stay open to let you through. If you try and walk through without using a ticket the barriers close. But since they close on the far side (they are fitted with gates on both sides) they shut smoothly and don't ever slam on you. More complex? Maybe. Better and Japanese? Definitely!

    The Japenese also have cute ink stamps with a custom design in every station so you can prove you've been places. Boris should consider this innovation.

  35. James Prior

    @AC "Screw this...

    Why are all the IT Professionals the worst when it comes to conspiracies?

    So you use an RFID blocking wallet (more money than sense there) but what about the RFID tags that clothing manufacturers sew into the clothes you buy so they can track it around the warehouse, while it's on the road and then on the shelves? Do you walk around covered in tin foil?

    And what about the fact that you can be tracked by your mobile phone with or without your consent? Thanks to the fact that it handily broadcasts it's ID every so often and that's easily picked up by the right hardware. Or are you one of these people that switches off your phone everytime you go into a building?

    Really, some people just take things to far .. people that worry like this obviously have something to hide.

  36. Mark

    @James Prior

    I don;t have to have a mobile. If I do, I don't have to have it on to pay to travel. I control the "RFID" that is a mobile phone.

    I don't control RFID I don't know about or which are required whether or not *I* want them visible.

  37. David Paul Morgan

    TfL Users have forgotten...

    what it's like for the rest of us! some journeys in south Wales can take up to 4 tickets and four service providers! I'm lucky as my monthly rail season ticket only costs £65 and gets me from cardiff to bridgend via mainline or via the airport (trains don't run late enough for some flights..!) and to the University and civic buildings and down to the bay.

    However, I also have a top-up Oyster card as it's so convenient when I travel to London and never have to worry about the cost of hopping on and off whatever service I want to use!

    Plus, you don't look like a bloody tourist! For business, I just print off my expenses a few days later.

    Anyway - bendy buses are great - we have them in cardiff too - but they are more suited to straight roads. double deckers are only suited for the able-bodied!

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