London’s Oyster card celebrates its tenth anniversary today, but there are questions about how long it will continue to operate.
The cards allow passengers to load season tickets or Pay As You Go funds and can be used instead of traditional paper tickets on all Transport for London services and national rail services within the capital.
Since the electronic payment card launched launched in June 2003 more than 60 million cards have been issued to commuters and visitors, including special editions to commemorate public events such as the London Olympics.
TfL says over 85 percent of all rail and bus travel in London is paid for using an Oyster card.
But while the cards have been a great hit with passengers, their success has has seen ticket offices closed or reduce in opening hours as the number of passengers buying paper tickets has fallen.
And while TfL is celebrating Oyster’s first decade, its future is unclear.
The capital’s transport authority is currently rolling-out support for ‘Wave and Pay’ contactless debit and credit cards which could ultimately replace Oyster.
Last month Mayor Boris Johnson told London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon: “As you know, in the end, we will be moving away from Oyster Cards to a Wave and Pay system and in the long run, we do not want to be running a payment system.”
The Mayor added: “We want to be running buses and there are many people who run payment systems with bank cards and there is no reason why we should be in that particular business.”
Ms Pidgeon, who leads the Assembly’s Liberal Democrat group, has previously expressed concerns that a more to Wave and Pay fares would disadvantage poorer Londoners.
Her concerns follow a a 2011 Assembly report on ticketing which noted that an estimated 1 in 5 Londoners do not have access to a bank card.
Speaking on Monday, Ms Pidgeon said: “While wave and way technology will inevitably become more widespread over the next few years there can be no excuse for people using Oyster who have no access to a bank account being penalised.
“The Mayor must honour his specific pledge that Oyster fares will remain the cheapest fares. If a weekly cap is introduced on using wave and pay on London buses then it is vital that a similar cap applies on Oyster PAYG weekly fares. ”