TfL terminates £100 million Oyster contract

Transport for London (TfL) has ended a 100 million contract for the Oyster fare swipe cards seven years early.

The public finance initiative (PFI) contract with TranSys, a consortium which helped develop and manage the system, started in 1998 and was set to run to 2015, but TfL opted to leave at the ten-year break clause point. There is no cost to TfL for ending the contract early, a TfL spokesman said.

It's the latest controversy to hit the Oyster card system. Last month, the system failed twice in the space of a week, corrupting cards and forcing TfL to let travellers ride for free. At the time, TfL blamed the trouble on TranSys, saying the firm sent them incorrect data tables.

And, researchers recently released a hack to the cards, which could potentially allow them to be cloned.

A spokesman for TfL told IT PRO that the contract break was "unrelated" to the technical difficulties, and had to do with cost savings.

Shashi Verma, TfL's director of fares and ticketing, said in a statement: "As part of this we are looking at more cost effective ways to manage and develop the Oyster card system that we expect will save millions over the next few years. The savings will be reinvested to deliver further improvements in London's transport system."

In a statement, TranSys said: "The London transport system has changed dramatically over the past ten years. For the benefit of all stakeholders, contract negotiations have been taking place over the last year between TranSys and TfL. The TranSys consortium will continue to operate and deliver for the next two years."

The swipe card system was introduced in 2003, and some six million cards are in use across bus, train and underground journeys in London.