Transport for London to overhaul Oyster technology

oyster card

With many users of London’s tubes, trains and buses embracing contactless card payments, TfL is exploring new options for its Oyster card system.

In the future, Oyster cards may directly incorporate the same contactless technology as credit and debit cards. Rather than the existing top-up system, this means that payments would be processed by the Transit Transaction Model, which currently handles contactless bank cards.

This will also mean that the Oyster system can follow the lead of contactless cards by adopting a flexible approach to fare capping.

At present, both Oyster cards and contactless cards “cap” at a set limit, after which the customer is not charged for their journeys. This limit differs according to the travel zones that the customer travels through during their day.

However, Oyster cards can only calculate the cap on a daily basis, meaning that customers who travel every day must pay upfront for a weekly pass if they want to save money. Contactless payments, on the other hand, can also automatically cap on a weekly basis. Each Sunday, the lowest possible fare for the week is calculated and charged accordingly.

By switching to the Transit Transaction Model, TfL would be able to incorporate this feature into Oyster cards. Customers would be able to apply for and manage the new card online.

If the project goes ahead, the new cards will roll out to customers in early 2016.

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