Talk:Oyster card/Archive 1

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Archive 1 | Archive 2


According to Transport for London, you are not obliged to provide your real identity when applying for an Oyster Card, however the station officers are not obliged to accept an application that is blatently bogus. If you apply for a card with a false name and address, you are unlikely to be able to recover your funds or season ticket in the event that it is stolen. --Salimfadhley 23:29, 19 Sep 2004 (UTC)

National Rail

I don't understand the statement Pre Pay is not planned to be launched on the rest of London's Rail network, mainly because of the difference in pricing structure between train operators. If that is the reason, it is a real criticism of the Oyster technology; after all the similar Octopus Card in Hong Kong has been around for a lot longer and supports all sorts of different pricing structures by different operators, ranging from buses to soft drink vending machines. -- User:chris_j_wood 15:56, 14 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I doubt it has anything to do with the technology whatsoever. More likely cost and corporate politics. I mean, the article presents a card which is pretty sophisticated. --kingboyk 13:36, 25 January 2007 (UTC)

Why "Oyster"?

I don't think it says anywhere in the article where the name comes from. Does it have anything to do with an oyster? <KF> 20:19, Feb 16, 2005 (UTC)

I have been led to believe it comes from the phrase "The world is your oyster" KrisW6 04:22, 1 August 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps also a sideways acknowledgement of the earlier Octopus card in Hong Kong, which was the first really successful city-wide smart card ticketing system. -- Chris j wood 12:21, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
I was sure it had to do that the Oyster card itself is a "container" for tickets - since it can hold both pre-pay money and a travelcard at the same time. --PkerUNO 02:38, 7 June 2006 (UTC)


I've reverted the description as it was slightly misleading. The system is set up so for example if you made one short tube journey and then got the bus for the rest of the day, capping would convert to a bus pass and charge for the single journey instead of a travelcard. If you use the tube once before 9:30 (i.e in the peak) and several times after 9:30 (off-peak) the capping might be to a single journey + off peak travelcard instead of a peak travelcard (as it works out cheaper). In effect you pay for the cheapest combination of tickets. This complexity is deliberately hidden in publicity to make the system easier to understand by users MRSC 10:14, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

That's fair enough. The problem I have with the current wording is that on the Oyster statement and the readout on the barriers, the conversion doesn't exist. Instead, journeys suddenly cost £0.00. The article should mention this. --Dtcdthingy 10:40, 10 Jun 2005 (UTC)

The bit about people getting a 'free ride'

This is invalid. First, the article says 'when it was introduced' it was possible to travel say from zone 6 to zone 6 on the other side of london because the system didn't know which zone you were travelling through. There are two issues with that statement:

  • first, the use of the past tense and the words 'when it was introduced'. It still works that way, the article suggests it doesn't.
  • second, it suggests users would get a 'free ride' or 'get away with' some sort of fee. This is dubious at best. To do so, you would have to stay on the same line between point a and point b, never change, and, of course, never be controlled. If you get controlled and you don't hold an oyster valid for the current zone you're in, you would have to pay a penalty.

This is not to say that the oyster is not without its flaws. I've regulary been overcharged on certain journeys (especially when taking the DLR then switching to another line, where it's really easy to forget to swipe in and out the doorless DLR), and was affected by the 'negative balance' issue described in the article many a time. (again, probably due to not swiping IN doorless DLR stations) 22:04, 20 September 2005 (UTC)

The article didn't make clear enough that this "bug" affected season ticket travelcard holders (weekly/monthly/annual) and not "pure" prepay users (as you describe above) - I've tried to make that more clear.
And to elaborate here further: The old paper system worked by each barrier being set to accept tickets for the zone it is in. So a barrier at Whitechapel will only accept Zone 2 tickets and a barrier at Hammersmith would only accept Zone 2 tickets. If someone were to make the journey between Whitechapel and Hammersmith they could technically do it with a Zone 2 only ticket although the rules say you need a Zone 1&2 ticket as you pass through Zone 1 between the stations. When the first Oyster cards were issued they did not have prepay function active and so continued to let you do this until January 2004. When prepay went live in Jan 04 on all Oyster card (including cards containing season tickets - where it is used for zone extensions) it started charging for the "missing" Zone 1 fare as a "prepay extension".
Hope this clears it up. MRSC 05:37, 21 September 2005 (UTC)
Not really. How do the barriers at Hammersmith know that the traveller has gone through zone 1, as opposed to around it?. True, they may in some cases be able to assume this because there are no other valid underground routes, but surely that was equally true of the case pre-Oyster. In which case this effect has nothing to do with Oyster cards at all, but is just a co-incidental effect of the introduction of new barriers. -- Chris j wood 12:18, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Technical details

Well you deleted the 'relay exploit' section which I think was relevant. Anyway Oyster is a "Proximity card" not a "contactless smartcard." The range is also not 10cm - the range is determined by the power of the reader (ticket gate or pay station) which as you read in the link has been tested to 50m with the standard phillips kit.

There certainly needs a section on either privacy (other than that specific to tfl), fraud (stealing from someone else's card), or plain hacking (turning your own card into someone else's - adding prepay).
also some discussion about the Jan 2006 fare structures. As a zone 1 resident & commuter it's cheaper for me to use prepay than the zone 1-2 monthly (no zone 1 monthly is available now). The paper (3UKP) vs oyster (1.5GBP) is a good point & I have also been stung by this one (paystation out of order).
The 'negative balance' issue - I have had a zone 1 monthly blocked by a 40p debit (Not £1). My belief is that negative balances of any values are disallowed. Which is different to the Hong Kong MTR as you know.

Incidentally, where did the figure of 10cm range arise from? Any reader that I've experienced is much less sensitive than that. I tried my home one at Beckton Park this morning by gradually bringing the flat card nearer, and I reckon it tripped at about 15mm. The ones at the end of the journey are even less sensitive at Old Street - requiring not just a tap, but momentarily holding the card flat against the pad. I note that many people don't get this, and frantically rub the card against it, which probably confuses it further. Ian Tindale 16:55, 1 December 2006 (UTC)

External Links

I can't help but feel that one of the external links ( is not neutral.

It criticises pretty much everything, starting with the name and compares eating oysters to "licking snot off a tortoise shell" which I can't help but think has nothing whatsoever to do with the subject, and is in pretty poor taste. The first blog the site links to ( continues this in an even worse manner.

"The Oyster Gotcha" and the blogs it quotes do raise some valid and perhaps valuable criticisms on both the system and the service provided, but unfortunately the style borders on, and sometimes crosses into, verbal abuse.

Seeing as most of the good points raised on those sites have already been covered in the wikipedia article, I feel that the link is superfluous anyway, and recommend its removal.

I can't help but agree - the points put forward are based on little factual information and for an article that calls itself an analysis, calling the Oyster readers "magnetic detector things" is inexcusable. There are good pages on the shortcomings of the Oyster system, but this isn't one of them. --PkerUNO 03:32, 7 June 2006 (UTC)
Agreed. Ray 20:04, 7 June 2006 (UTC)


States that you have to incur a minimum debt of £1.00 for travelcard to be invalidated; not true. £0.50pence was enough to prevent me from exiting barriers with a £30 travelcard stored on the card, all because of fault through LU. Don't know how much dedt you can incur, but I know they go potty over £0.50, and literally 'steal' your invested money in the system to use on TfL network, especially when its them who don't have a sufficient refund policy system. Complexity on this system is a joke and will continue to be so until compatibility issues with London network carriers devise a compromise. Sun 14 January 2007; 22:00hrs (GMT) - User: anonymous —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 21:58, 14 January 2007 (UTC).

Pre pay launch 'bug'

The article contains the following:

On the day the pay as you go system went live on all Oyster cards, some season ticket passengers were prevented from making a second journey on their travelcard. Upon investigation each had a negative prepay balance. This was widely reported as a major bug in the system. However, the reason for the "bug" was that some season ticket holders, either knowingly or otherwise, were passing through zones not included on their tickets. The existing paper system could not prevent this kind of misuse as the barriers only checked if a paper ticket was valid in the zone the barrier was in.

The description of why this isn't a bug ('However, ...') does not make any sense to me. The location at which Oyster Cards are checked (ie. the barrier lines on underground lines) is no different to the location at which old-fashioned paper tickets are checked. There are no hidden 'on-train' or 'in-corridor' sensors to tell what route somebody took. Can somebody (the original author, perhaps) clarify. -- Chris j wood 12:08, 28 March 2006 (UTC)

Oyster checks tickets differently. It has been programmed in advance with which zones are needed for each and every possible journey. Paper tickets/barriers only check the ticket is valid in the zone the barrier is situated.
If I have a zone 2 paper season travelcard and go from Mile End to Hammersmith (a journey through zone 1) the paper ticket will let me through. If I have an Oyster card with a zone 2 season on it I will get charged a prepay debit for the "missing" zone 1. MRSC 19:14, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
In this particular case there is actually a route between the two that bypasses Zone 1, though as Oyster PrePay isn't yet available on the North London Line and the West London Line it wouldn't be valid. But when that happens (next year) the fare conscious traveller/tourist of North London could bypass Zone 1 completely. Do the fare gates charge the most direct route in such circumstances? Timrollpickering 22:32, 30 March 2006 (UTC)
You are charged for the direct route no matter how elaborate a detour you make. MRSC 05:37, 31 March 2006 (UTC)
Okay here's one. Any Central Line station east of Leyton (Zone 4) to any District Line station east of East Ham (ditto). One could either interchange once at Mile End in Zone 2 or twice using the Jubilee/North London Line (valid here) between Stratford and West Ham (in Zone 3). Which is the "direct route" for such journeys? A lot of passengers do seek to minimise the value of their journeys and particularly avoid going through Zone 1 if they can reasonably help it. When/if the ELL, NLL, WLL and SLL are linked up into an orbital route this will become quite an issue.
And without checking, I think Stratford to Richmond is faster via Zone 1 than over the North London Line, but more direct on the latter. Again how does Oyster know which route one takes? Timrollpickering 11:23, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
I replied to this some time ago but an editor deleted my reply. So here it is again:
Not sure about the rest but I've used PAYG from Central to District as you describe via Mile End but got charged via Stratford, so it does work in your favour sometimes. MRSC 08:48, 22 April 2006 (UTC)
As I understand it, some journeys are defined to go through Zone 1, (and presumably others if it ever matters). There are big lists up in most tube stations telling you the fare to every other tube station and what zones you need to do this. Thus there are times when you could travel through zone 1 and not get charged it, and vice versa. This also applies to the paper ticket, just the machines don't check it very well.

Pay as you go nonsense

I've just spent all morning changing everything on the Oyster from Pay as you go back to Prepay. The story that the LU is rebranding Prepay to Pay as you go is completley unfounded, and as a London citizen, and regular tube user, I have had no signs that this change is taking place. I think prepay is here to stay. I have added a better explantion of what Prepay is to help any confusion. Please do not change anything back to pay as you go, until we can find out the details of this rebranding. Come on guys, this is meant to be an Encyclopedia. Try and keep it accurate. --Staticfish 09:08, 10 Apr 2006 (UTC)

Absolutely agree. We should follow not lead on terminology like this. However it does strike me that if Oyster does become more of an e-money card, that would have an impact on this naming. If people really start thinking about the Oyster card as being an electronic wallet, then the moment of spending when travelling on a 'non-season-ticket' card will be the point at which you swipe the card to get on/off the underground/bus/whatever, and not the point when you top it up. From that perspective calling it 'prepay' is plain wrong and 'pay as you go' much more accurate. -- Chris j wood 09:54, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Well if you look at it like that, the name 'pay as you go' assumes one is paying for the mars bar as soon as they are scanning their Oyster card, whilst the name 'Prepay' assumes the user has already paid for the said item beforehand, which is much nearer the truth as the user could have paid the credit on the card months beforehand StaticFish 16:34, 10 April 2006 (UTC)
Mrsteviec: Stop reverting the pages back to Pay as you go. Until Pay as you go is used around tube stations, announcements, and the LU in general, this page should state Prepay. Linking to some obscure PDF does not gain any significance over this fact.
Also, never revert Talk pages without a really good reason. A few of us commented on this change and agreed that it should stay as Prepay for now, until the LU adopts the 'Pay as you go' reference. You reverted this page back, thus deleting all discussions on this. This is considered vandalism of Wikipedia. Please do not do it again --Staticfish 12:48, 17 Apr 2006 (UTC)
There are some areas of the Tube that still haven't noticed that Hammersmith & City Line isn't the Metropolitan Line anymore... Timrollpickering 00:15, 17 April 2006 (UTC)
The talk page was not "reverted", it was refactored so it ran in chronological order. I have put it back in the correct order again. Please add new talk to the bottom of the page in future.
To the matter in hand, look in the 2006 fares guide - it was rebranded from there.
Instances of "prepay" in this document = 0, instances of "pay as you go" = 31.
Also I have seen plenty of posters referring to this as "pay as you go". It is not a matter for debate, it is something that has happened and you have failed to recognise. MRSC 05:57, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Type of Mifare card?

It's not made clear either here or on the article MIFARE exactly which type of MIFARE card is used in Oyster; Standard, T=CL or DESFire. (MIFARE seems to imply DESFire but it's worded oddly so I'm not sure.) Anyone know?

The dates also suggest this (2002 - DESFire > 2003 - Oyster). --anskas 17:59, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
On the other hand, this site claims that oyster uses MIFARE standard chips. --anskas 22:32, 19 July 2006 (UTC)
This site confirms this. I will edit the page accordingly. --anskas 22:34, 19 July 2006 (UTC)