back to article Transport for London asks Capita to fling Congestion Charge system into the cloud

Capita has scored a hefty contract with Transport for London that includes sending the body's on-prem IT systems for the Congestion Charge, and the Low and Ultra Low Emission Zones (ULEZ), into the cloud. TfL hired Capita to manage tech for the Congestion Charge when it was first established in 2003. It then replaced the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ...because PHB's always learn from past mistakes. Right?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      In this case you've got to wait for them to make the mistake and have the inevitable result. Originally in CC security actually mattered;. Communications were point-to-point and none of your internet nonsense. Even internally subcontractors had to have secure production networks to handle the data. Now it's cloud.

  2. tip pc Silver badge

    £355m for 5 years!!!!

    £71m a year to charge people to go into central London.

    Considering the volumes of traffic still entering and paying to enter the emissions zone clearly the current transport mechanism is lacking functionality to help reduce those numbers further.

    The thing is, the more successful at converting journeys to non congestion/ emissions charging alternatives the more the charges need to become to pay for this infrastructure!!!!

    1. Len
      Thumb Up

      Re: £355m for 5 years!!!!

      From an economics point of view the London congestion charge system is a no-brainer.

      We have a scarce resource (road space in central London) and undesirable phenomena (pollution, traffic jams, noise) that appear to be price sensitive. By putting a price on these, people decide to avoid using up scarce space, pollute etc. where they can.

      As a local government you can even tweak the knobs to encourage and discourage some behaviour (no fees for electric vehicles* or key workers, extra high fees for heavy polluters, turning the system on and off on specific times depending on the goal du jour) making it a policy instrument.

      It seems to have worked too, if you look at the takeup of bus journeys (the bus system was barely functional prior to the congestion charge introduction as walking was often quicker) and the improvements in air quality (admittedly with still a long way to go as London and Athens seem to be battling for the honour of having the worst air quality in Europe) then it has worked.

      Obviously running the system it comes at a huge cost that should be solely born by people entering the CC zone but, as someone living in London (inside the ULEZ but just outside CCZ) I would not mind at all if the city made a profit out of it that could go towards infrastructure improvement in other areas.

      * Obviously this will need a review in a couple of years when many more cars are EVs but they can cross that bridge when they get to it.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: £355m for 5 years!!!!

        If current conditions continue to apply the problem will be solved. Cities of present scale will become redundant.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This will be crap, mainly because the actual talented people of capita are leaving or looking for other jobs.

    Mr Lewis said that they will put more money into retaining talent. That was a bunch of crap because several talent people have left, and to "try to keep them" they were offered an extra grand.... lol it is pathetic. These people are getting 5k-10k more at their new jobs.

    1. JDPower Bronze badge

      "talented people of capita"???

  4. Len
    Paris Hilton

    To be honest...

    ...and it might be me but as far as I know the Congestion Charging system is one of the few large scale IT projects that actually seems to work well. Well in the sense that I don't frequently read about cock-ups, outages and other disasters. For instance, I am not holding my breath for all the new customs infrastructure that is currently developed in haste.

    Is it a question of me just not having noticed any major issues with CC recently or is this one of those cases where good news is no news?

    1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: To be honest...

      They charge a ridiculous amount of money, but yes, at least it works!

    2. Hawkeye Pierce

      Re: To be honest...

      I agree, but I'll also add that whilst not problem-free, the Oyster system (contactless card for TfL public transport) seems to have held up well over the many years it's been in place. It has had its crashes but I believe the last significant one was more than four years ago and the one (or two as it happened) was eight years before that one.

      I imagine the Oyster system must be way more complicated than the CC system. Don't know about the volume of data (guessing more people travel on public transport in any one day than enter the CC zone?) but the complexity and nature of the Oyster data must be way more.

      1. Len

        Re: To be honest...

        Good point, Oyster works well too and is likely a lot more complex.

        The main challenges with CC are probably the accuracy of the ANPR system (even a 1% failure rate would be a lot of work on appeals from people in North Yorkshire or summat who will contest they were not driving in London at the time) and how to deal with non-UK license plates entering the zone.

        1. Stuart Castle Silver badge

          Re: To be honest...

          As said above, Oyster does work, mostly. Whoever designed the system did a good job,

          It's not perfect, but it reliably handles hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of journeys a day.

          If I had a pick faults, it would be that the cards themselves can be a little unreliable, (been using Oyster for ten years, and had dozens of cards just fail on me, and even my current card doesn't show up as being properly registered to my account, despite TFL assuring me it is).

          Another thing I'd like to see is the ability to update my card via the iPhone app. The new versions of the Southern and Southeastern apps can upload tickets bought online to their cards via NFC. I'd like the TFL Oyster app to do the same, but they don't seem to be updating it.

        2. danbishop
          Trollface

          Re: To be honest...

          Entirely agree with what you're saying, but in the spirit of register pedantry... "number plate" not "licence plate". Licence plates are issued to owners, whereas number plates are issued to vehicles. The DVLA issues number plates in Great Britain. The DVA issues them in Northern Ireland. Although it's true that number plates no longer consist of just numbers in most countries, they're still officially named as such across gov.uk

          You are of course talking about foreign vehicles, but these are almost all going to come from elsewhere in Europe and I'm not aware of any European country employing the North American system of licence plates?

          I'll see myself out...

    3. Twanky

      Re: To be honest...

      ...as far as I know the Congestion Charging system is one of the few large scale IT projects that actually seems to work well.

      It's working! Can't have that. Let's stick it in 'the cloud'.

  5. smudge
    WTF?

    900 more staff?

    To cope with the contract expansion, Capita said it is set to hire and train 900 more staff, the "majority" of which will be "encouraged" to work from home.

    WTF are 900 additional staff going to be doing? How many people are already working on this?

    Do they have the same productivity as Serco's covid contact tracers?

    1. LeahroyNake

      Re: 900 more staff?

      I recon 850 of those staff will be trying to look at 1.5 Million emails of images between them every day.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 900 more staff?

      "To cope with the contract expansion, Capita said it is set to hire and train 900 more staff, the "majority" of which will be "encouraged" to work from home."

      The majority will not be working from the UK either way - Mumbai maybe. More of the UKs infrastructure and systems now effectively given away to offshore while the indigenous population can't find work.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Trollface

    So Capita scored another huge government contract

    And it is going to make transformations to bring the system into the cloud.

    I eagerly await the article that will tell us how Capita screwed this one up.

  7. The Alphabet

    The charge is 17 years old but they have still not developed a system to confirm if you need to pay or not.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    Its Capita, so the worst that could happen is....

    Dear Mr. Hack,

    Thanks to our world-leading technology deployment, your car's Nevada (United States) license plate has been detected driving or parked in the London Low and Ultra Low Emissions Zone 2,117 times in the last month. Per Transport for London's congestion charge policies, please remit 38,174.83 Sterling, or the U.S. equivalent $59,362.15, per the enclosed invoice.

    That's our story and we're sticking to it,

    Capita, on behalf of Transport for London

  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    I thought that TfL was flat broke?

    That's what the Mayor was bleating about just a few months ago. Now they can spend loadsamoney moving a working system into the cloud that as we all know sometimes does not work.

    Why?

  10. JasonLaw

    You spelt it wrong

    CRAPITA

  11. Dave 15 Silver badge

    Super, the whole congestion charge will be destroyed and a good service to man kind done

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Get used to it

      Congestion and Emissions charging zones are not going away anytime soon. More and more cities are going to impliment them not only as a way of raising money but reducing the pollution caused by Petrol and Diesel engines.

      ICE vehicles are going the way of the Dodo. Boris has decreed that this will happen and AFAIK, very few MP's are against it.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Get used to it

        A non-hybrid EV might get you from Durham to Barnard Castle without stopping to recharge. London to Durham's a different matter.

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