Oyster Oyster Oyster

Published on 28 November 2003 in , , , , ,

Londoners seem to have been wittering on about Oystercards – the new smart card ticketting system introduced by Transport for London for public transport in the capital – for some time, but my old paper-based annual Travelcard only expired yesterday, so today was the first day I used mine.

Much has been made by TfL about how fast you can wizz through the ticket barriers, and how much time you’ll save – even to the extent of showing someone lying on some grass having fun.

Of course it’s a load of bollocks. All that happens when using an Oystercard is that you put it on a bright yellow card reader and walk through the gates, instead of pushing your ticket into the gate then removing it.

An Oystercard being passed over an Oystercard reader

Yes you no longer have those embarrassing times when you reach to retrieve your ticket and miss, leaving you to grasp at thin air whilst you try and locate it. And yes, you don’t get those embarrassing moments when you drop your ticket straight after retrieving it. But saving loads of time? Probably saves you about a second if you’re lucky!

That’s not to say it’s not easier though – it is, especially when you have an arm full of shopping from Tesco as I found myself tonight.

Previously if you had two carrier bags, you had to put all your bags in one hand, try and wrestle the ticket out of it’s wallet, try to insert the ticket into the machine (usually with the wrong hand) then take it again.

Thanks to the fact that the Oystercard doesn’t have to be taken out of it’s wallet, and you just have wave it over the reader and put it back into your bag, which really is a lot easier. Now if they publicised it like that, they’d get a lot more takers!