Oyster system failure causes travel misery
Computer fault buggers barriers
Updated London commuters are suffering more problems than usual this morning, thanks to the weekend failure of the Oyster card readers at tube stations and on buses.
Extra staff have been drafted in this morning to sort out problems with cards which were used between 5.30am and 10.30am on Saturday. Some cards were apparently wiped, meaning some customers were left with cards that didn't work and/or a fine.
Although the problems were supposedly fixed by 10.30am Saturday morning, we've had reports of problems on buses up until late Saturday evening.
Certain Freedom Passes and Young Persons Oyster cards might also need to be exchanged for a new card. Transport for London believes as many as 40,000 cards might have problems.
TfL said the computer problem was fixed at 9.30am on Saturday but some retailers did not get ticket services back until Sunday. People who were charged a maximum fare on Saturday morning will get an automatic refund on Tuesday.
The problem comes just weeks after Dutch researchers found a way to clone the Mifare chip which the card is based on. Chip company NXP is taking legal action to silence the university researchers who revealed the problem.
Update: A TfL spokesperson sent us the following statement:
The vast majority of passengers have travelled without any disruption this morning and London Underground staff have minimised the delay to passengers with cards that are not working.
Less than 1% of the 6 million regular Oyster card users required replacement cards after the incident on Saturday morning. We are replacing affected cards and there are now less than 35,000 cards that need to be replaced. If this has not been practical during this morning, LU staff, and London bus drivers, have allowed these passengers to travel.
Ticket offices are well stocked and we advise those passengers who have not yet replaced their cards to go to their nearest LU ticket office through-out today.
For you whining people
I live in Bath, a place of modest affluence, but also has its rough bits like any city. Here we use cash - and it is bloody expensive to do so!
In London you can traverse the whole of zone 1 for a £1.50 single - that's less than a £1.70 / 7 minute bus ride in Bath. You can catch a bus for a quid or 90p or something. Our minimum fares are £1.10 for going a single stop.
In London, thanks to the massive savings on cash handling, paper tickets, automated reporting, no queueing holding up services, you get to pay far less than most parts of the country - and the fares in any one day are capped at the equivalent all-day travelcard price. You really do have it good. So here I live in Bath, and I carry an Oyster Card which is utterly useless to me 98% of the time, because you have such cheap public transport in London compared with here it is an absolute bargain every time I visit London.
borked upgrade ?
You figure they were upgrading the system to protect against the non-existant security problems illustrated in this earlier reg story?
for 10p ...
1 - MiFare card gets cracked
2 - Crack is applied to Oyster
3 - TfL releases a statement that all is tikka dee boo, nothing to worry, the system is far more resilient and should pickup the home made cards,
4 - TfL decides it'd be better to change the crypto-keys on the card coz the Dutch unlawful usage cannot be pinpointed and the above is just PR
5 - TfL sends the order (to the gates) to change the keys
6 - Oysters are toasted
7 - Smell of toasted oysters fills the tube's corridors
8 - TfL tells the gates to stop frying bivalves & let bipeds thru.
9 - TfL rolls back the system
10 - TfL rolls out a bunch of fresh mussel-replacements.
-> Dutch geeks can carry on using their forged card ... please send the toasted cards to
Prof.dr. B.P.F. Jacobs
Radboud University Nijmegen
6525 AJ Nijmegen
so he can help TfL investigating what went wrong.
What worries me a bit is we know the MiFare is compromised, it takes 12 secs to get the keys to read & write the card ... even if TfL were successful in applying a patch/adding some data/changing the keys it would take 12 other seconds to see what changed. Can even set up a website to publish the latest free-ride Oyster "firmware" update.