The Oyster card has a rival, but do we really want it?
The London Assembly is currently consulting on a new contactless payment system for public transport to rival the Oyster card system. The big question is: why? Is there something wrong with the current option?
The new system will be rolled out to buses initially. However, the plan is to have contactless payment terminals available on all of London’s public transport by the end of 2012.
While Oyster can only be used for transport, contactless cards are becoming more widespread and payment terminals have popped up across the country in a number of chain stores and fast food outlets.
So, instead of having to use two different cards, now all you need is your contactless-enabled credit or debit card and whenever you go through the ticket barrier your account will be debited. Plus, under these new plans, the cost of issuing cards and maintaining the contactless payment system is shifted towards the banks.
Contactless payment cards – taking us for a ride?
Previous conversations have shown that you have many concerns about contactless cards which only require a PIN after several transactions of up to £15 have been made. Alongside concerns about fraudsters spending at least some of your money without hindrance, some of you have also voiced practical concerns:
‘It stops you getting through the gates on the Underground if it’s in your wallet with your Oyster card. Now that doesn’t sound practical!’ Kire pointed out.
I’m one of those who isn’t too convinced of it, too. I’m quite happy using a separate card for transport. It gives me the ability to see what I spend and I don’t have to be concerned about accidentally slipping into my overdraft as Oyster isn’t linked to my bank account.
Plus, using contactless cards makes it harder to notice when you’ve been overcharged as this will only be visible on your statement. Imagine the nightmare of trying to get a refund possibly days or weeks later!
What choice do we have?
Our main concern here at Which? is that, in the long-term, Oyster could be replaced by this system altogether since the main argument seems to be that Oyster has become too expensive to operate.
This means that people who currently do not have a contactless card might be forced to get one. This doesn’t only reduce consumer choice but puts those who don’t have bank accounts or only a basic account at risk of having to buy expensive paper tickets.
We have been asked to provide evidence to the London Assembly regarding these plans. We want to know what you think of this so we can take as many comments as possible from you to be considered in the consultation – so, would you favour a system like this over Oyster cards?
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