London’s Oyster card may be replaced

Transport for London (TfL) is looking to new tech to deliver ticketing on public transport in the capital, potentially replacing the Oyster swipe card.

TfL told the London Assembly this week that it was looking at new smartcards, bank cards or even mobile phones to replace the ageing and beleaguered Oyster system in 2010 potentially losing the brand name in the process.

Last month, the Oyster was twice hit with bugs which took the system down, leading TfL to end its contract with provider TranSys. The chip in the card has also been hacked, leading some to worry about the security of the system.

Barclaycard already offers a credit card with built-in Oyster card, while TfL has previously trialled mobile ticketing.

Will Judge, the head of future ticketing at TfL, told the assembly that the new system must be contactless, fast and convenient.

Despite the troubles with contractor TranSys, TfL has no plans to develop new technology in-house, Judge said, adding that the transport body would save millions of pounds by abandoning the private finance initiative (PFI) contract in favour of a more standard one.

TfL is looking to break any new contract up into modules to be given out individually, mimicking the way the congestion charge has been contracted out.

Judge also said that such ticketing whether Oyster or a new version is likely to be extended to London's riverboat network next year, as well as on the rail network.