Feeds

Transport for London gobbles up Oyster

How shellfish, etc etc

Build a business case: developing custom apps

London's Oyster Card system is now owned by Transport for London, which stumped up £1m for the brand as well as considerably more for the associated infrastructure.

TranSys, which has been running the Oyster system since 1998 under a Private Finance Initiative, took on £190m of debt at the start. That debt was due to be paid off over 17 years, but Transport for London (TfL) has now repaid the money five years early and thus saved itself £4m in interest payments, leaving enough change to snap up the brand itself for a mere £1m.

The original Private Finance Initiative was scheduled to run until 2015, but in 2008 Transport for London took advantage of an opt-out clause winding up the existing deal in August this year. Paying off the debt, and buying the brand, wasn't necessary before then, but it makes the transition a lot easier.

Come August TranSys will be handing over the Oyster system to Cubic Transportation Systems and HP Enterprise Services. Fortunately Cubic (UK) is part-owner of TranSys, so will already know its way around.

Transport for London has been hoping to do something more interesting with Oyster for years - trying to interest local shops into accepting Oyster cards as a payment mechanism, not to mention getting the technology built into mobile phones. Hong Kong's Octopus system can be used to buy papers and confectionery, but we understand that TfL's insistence on making money from such an arrangement has so far proved an insurmountable barrier.

With the entire infrastructure in TfL's hands we expect to see local businesses again courted in the hope of changing Oyster into a pre-paid proximity-payment system. "Now that the Oyster brand and ticketing equipment is under TfL's ownership we can further investigate the potential for Oyster to be extended to new and existing technologies and the commercial opportunities that provides," said Shashi Verma, director of ticketing at TfL, in a canned statement.

Oyster may be "the world's most successful transport smartcard", but that's not because Londoners love it. Londoners have to use public transport; there is no other option, and that transport is priced in such a way that one has to have an Oyster card. It's hard to see how a TfL-owned Oyster Card will have any more luck getting into shops, or telephones, than a TranSys-owned one.

But at least the capital's transport system now owns its own ticketing, and that's got to be a good thing, even if TranSys will continue to own the advertising spaces on the tickets and gates until the end of the original contract - March 2015. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
Mozilla keeps its Beard, hopes anti-gay marriage troubles are now over
Plenty on new CEO's todo list – starting with Firefox's slipping grasp
Apple: We'll unleash OS X Yosemite beta on the MASSES on 24 July
Starting today, regular fanbois will be guinea pigs, it tells Reg
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cloudy CoreOS Linux distro declares itself production-ready
Lightweight, container-happy Linux gets first Stable release
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.