Last week Future Cities Catapult organised a talk by Matthew Hudson from TfL entitled The Story of Oyster: How TfL Revolutionised Urban Fare Collection.
I missed the first few minutes, but it was still a fascinating run through Oyster / Contactless ... not least a reminder that the original impetus to develop Oyster was the queues that used to build up at the ticket barriers, as the use of paper tickets (Magstripe) was incredibly slow compared to Oyster and even Contactless !
One option was to build lots more ticket barriers - but thankfully TfL developed Oyster.
Below are some random nuggets from the talk together with some of my views ...
A maximum of 15 passengers per minute can get through ticket barriers using the old Magstripe tickets
A busy commuter station like Liverpool Street (as opposed to a station with lots of tourists) can get over 25 passengers per minute through each barrier using Oyster
Contactless is a bit slower (it has to run more check processes before deciding to open the gate) but it is getting quicker with new Contactless chips, and also TfL are trying to reduce the number of check processes to speed it up.
5.5m people regularly use Oyster Pay as You Go (PAYG)
This represents 86% of users - although some/many also have a Travelcard
58% of fares come from PAYG
The TfL board have decided PAYG should be the primary product in future
The original incentive for season tickets (which was the cost of issue and congestion at the ticket office) is gone
It sounds like in future the PAYG and Travelcard fares will be equalised
Matthew talked about the original requirement for tickets being to stop the bus conductors from pocketing the fares - it wasn't to control passengers.
Oyster customer level data is kept for 2 months - to help resolve customer issues
This compares with Paris where customer data has to be binned at the end of every day
The original Oyster configuration where if you failed to "touch out" you were charged the minimum fare resulted in 15% fare evasion
No mention of what fare evasion level is on Boris buses !
Serious Oyster analysis started in the lead up to London 2012
There was up to a 7% decrease in passenger volumes following widespread warnings about congestion - some stations felt empty !
There are many requests from different parts of TfL for Oyster analysis - most of which get denied as they won't actually lead to better decision making.
TfL have licenced the intellectual property behind Oyster/Contactless to the company Cubic for 15m gbp - TfL themselves will not be directly installing Oyster around the world.
Matthew said that in future TfL will make Oyster "more like Contactless"
There will be a weekly cap on Oyster in the future - and refunds will be pushed out to all Oyster readers (including buses) ready for collection the next time the Oyster card is tapped.
Sounds to me that I will be able to stop using my Contactless once weekly Oyster capping arrives !