Prepayment cards will migrate to same back-office system as contactless payments
Transport for London (TfL) is planning to move its Oyster prepayment cards to the same back-office system it uses for contactless payments, as part of a new revenue collection system contract worth up to £1.1bn.
The transport provider said the move will allow the legacy back-office system currently used for Oyster to be retired. Passengers still use Oyster cards in the same way, but data will move from the cards to the central system also used for contactless card payments. The information appears in a prior information notice for a new revenue collection system contract which will run from 2025.
TfL introduced Oyster cards in 2003. Their use has declined in favour of contactless payment cards, which the organisation first introduced to pay bus fares in 2012. However, in the 2019-20 financial year passengers still paid £1.51bn of fares with Oyster cards, compared with £2.34bn with contactless.
This year has seen a collapse in TfL’s fare income as a result of coronavirus, although Oyster continues to handle a significant proportion of payments. In a normal year, the revenue collection system handles more than £5bn.
The new contract will also include the replacement of hardware including validation readers, revenue inspection devices and older pneumatic gates still used at some Underground stations. It will cover more than 4,000 devices at 280 Underground stations; validation equipment on more than 8,500 buses, at 39 tram stops and 23 river bus piers; and 4,000 devices used by retailers.
The revenue collection system is currently managed under a single contract with US-based Cubic Transportation Systems. In 2017, TfL extended Cubic’s contract for a further three years to end in 2025.