TfL ticket offices to stop retailing oyster

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mattdickinson

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TfL Rail and London Overground ticket offices are to stop retailing Oyster. I think this is the end of Oyster sales at ticket offices, and I imagine will see the eventual closure of most of them if TfL are allowed to. TVMs will stil be available.

We are replacing our ticket office machines and you will soon no longer be able to buy or top up your Oyster card at TfL Rail or London Overground ticket office windows. This is because the current machines will no longer be supported by their manufacturer.

The changes will take effect from:

  • Wednesday 9 June at Hanwell, Manor Park, Maryland and West Drayton TfL Rail stations
  • Tuesday 15 June at all other TfL Rail stations
  • Monday 21 June at London Overground stations
 
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Watershed

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TfL Rail and London Overground ticket offices are to stop retailing Oyster. I think this is the end of Oyster sales at ticket offices, and I imagine will see the eventual closure of most of them if TfL are allowed to. TVMs will stil be available.
Going to be 'interesting' at those stations with barriers but no ticket office, if you want to buy a ticket that the TVMs can't sell, or using a method of payment the TVMs won't accept.

This is the start of the end of Oyster, but until TfL allow discounts to be set on contactless they can't really stop accepting Oyster cards. Well, they shouldn't, but in the current belt-tightening environment...
 

zwk500

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Do the benefits of Oyster over Contactless give more value than the cost of maintaining Oyster and Contactless as parallel systems? If not, I'd say this is an entirely sensible decision.

I suppose the key part of that is what benefits does Oyster give over Contactless?
 

Watershed

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Do the benefits of Oyster over Contactless give more value than the cost of maintaining Oyster and Contactless as parallel systems? If not, I'd say this is an entirely sensible decision.

I suppose the key part of that is what benefits does Oyster give over Contactless?
Oyster can only be topped up in amounts of £5 or more, and Auto Top-Up is at least £20 a pop, whereas the daily charges on contactless could be as low as £1.50.

Obviously it depends on the deal that TfL have negotiated with their card merchant acquirer, but in most contracts there is a mixture of a fixed charge and a percentage charge.

Therefore, in theory there are lower transaction costs with Oyster than with contactless. That said, with TfL processing more than £2bn a year in contactless sales (albeit pre-Covid), they'll have a very strong hand in any negotiations. And of course if they can ditch Oyster I'm sure that will give them a decent saving by itself.
 

zwk500

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Key one I can think of is railcard discounts can be applied with Oyster
Yes, that's the only one I could think of and it isn't that big for 2 reasons: 1. the fares people usually pay on TfL aren't that big so the discount is minor and 2. The railcards need to be sorted out properly for the digital economy anyway, so it would be relatively straightforward to include a verification process between a TfL contactless account and a Railcard account for the discount. They should also do this to allow physical railcards to be linked to the digital app as well, but that's a different thread.
 

big_rig

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Also rail staff travel discounts.
And Oyster activates the barriers more quickly than contactless, which is an equally important advantage :p I imagine the future is having discounts loaded onto contactless and saving some money by getting rid of Oyster, but I hope they get rid of the 'lag' by then!
 

Watershed

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And Oyster activates the barriers more quickly than contactless, which is an equally important advantage :p I imagine the future is having discounts loaded onto contactless and saving some money by getting rid of Oyster, but I hope they get rid of the 'lag' by then!
It's unlikely they'll ever be able to fully get rid of the lag - my understanding is that touching in/out with Oyster is a process that occurs entirely locally (with the card carrying the balance and travel history) whereas there is a degree of back-end communication that happens when you use contactless.
 

mattdickinson

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It's unlikely they'll ever be able to fully get rid of the lag - my understanding is that touching in/out with Oyster is a process that occurs entirely locally (with the card carrying the balance and travel history) whereas there is a degree of back-end communication that happens when you use contactless.
There isn't any back end communication with contactless, but the gates/validators store a deny list, which I can imagine is now quite large
 

deltic

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Oyster will be required for those who dont have bank accounts, especially children. TfL have long wanted to get rid of ticket offices at all its stations
 

MikeWh

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Oyster can only be topped up in amounts of £5 or more
No it can't. 5p is the minimum at National Rail ticket machines. Just select 'other amount' and key in the amount required.
There isn't any back end communication with contactless, but the gates/validators store a deny list, which I can imagine is now quite large
I think the delay is more to do with handshaking with the contactless card.
 

davews

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I would have thought it would have been relatively easy to add railcard discounts to contactless, for the customer once you have added it to your TFL account a tick box and somewhere to type in the number of the railcard. Presumably even easier with the phone version. Maybe though there is no link between railcard.com and TFL so it can only done manually and hence only on Oyster.
 

bb21

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Wasn't there an issue with discount entitlement stored on a TfL account not being visible to revenue staff in real time, hence impossible to enforce correct usage of discount, or has that been resolved now?
 

MikeWh

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Wasn't there an issue with discount entitlement stored on a TfL account not being visible to revenue staff in real time, hence impossible to enforce correct usage of discount, or has that been resolved now?
No, that is the big issue.
 
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No, that is the big issue.
There must be a way out of this. If we can assume that a bank card is more 'personal' than an Oyster, which even looks like it can be handed around at will (and sometimes can be), shouldn't it be enough for whatever discount entitlement to be proved once at the point it is associated with the payment card, and then left to run until expiry - or cancelled if necessary? That proof can be more involved - checking names, addresses, etc. - than anything that would happen during a ticket check. Edit: I suppose the concern is double-discounting. The bank card discount can be proved, but the Railcard might be elsewhere. Why RDG always want Railcard numbers on tickets I suppose. With eTickets, this should be possible.
 
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Watershed

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There must be a way out of this. If we can assume that a bank card is more 'personal' than an Oyster, which even looks like it can be handed around at will (and sometimes can be), shouldn't it be enough for whatever discount entitlement to be proved once at the point it is associated with the payment card, and then left to run until expiry - or cancelled if necessary? That proof can be more involved - checking names, addresses, etc. - than anything that would happen during a ticket check.
There's plenty of people that are happy to misuse a Freedom Pass etc. so I can understand the reluctance of TfL/TOCs to simply allow people to apply a discount that can't be checked (though checks are rare as hen's teeth, at least on the Tube).

That said, I must be missing something when people suggest that it would be 'impossible' to check contactless discount entitlements on the spot. Revenue inspectors can already check whether contactless cards are hotlisted when they undertake inspections, which I imagine is done by means of a database containing the hashes of all blocked cards' numbers.

I fail to see how this would be notably different. The inspector's device would hold the details of which card hash is associated with which discount entitlement. The only situation it wouldn't cover would be where someone had applied a discount after the last time the device database was updated, i.e. the last day's worth of discount entitlements. That's exactly the same as the situation now with blocked cards, and it covers such a small percentage of all potential misuse that I hardly think it's worth throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
 

MikeWh

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I fail to see how this would be notably different. The inspector's device would hold the details of which card hash is associated with which discount entitlement. The only situation it wouldn't cover would be where someone had applied a discount after the last time the device database was updated, i.e. the last day's worth of discount entitlements. That's exactly the same as the situation now with blocked cards, and it covers such a small percentage of all potential misuse that I hardly think it's worth throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
I may be over-simplifying things, but I think it's down to cost. The current devices operate with a simple whitelist/blacklist capability. During the trial period your card had to be on the whitelist to work. Once the system went live you just mustn't be on the blacklist. I'd imagine that this functionality is not bespoke to TfL. Adding the ability to store a third list might be prohibitively expensive, especially if TfL are the first to want such a thing.

As an aside, the blacklist is updated very frequently, something like every 30-45 minutes.
 

Watershed

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I may be over-simplifying things, but I think it's down to cost. The current devices operate with a simple whitelist/blacklist capability. During the trial period your card had to be on the whitelist to work. Once the system went live you just mustn't be on the blacklist. I'd imagine that this functionality is not bespoke to TfL. Adding the ability to store a third list might be prohibitively expensive, especially if TfL are the first to want such a thing.

As an aside, the blacklist is updated very frequently, something like every 30-45 minutes.
That's true, but in the grand scheme of things you'd have thought TfL could save far more by ditching Oyster, than it would cost to develop a contactless discount checking system.

Of course, cheaper still would be not to allow any discounts at all...
 

matt_world2004

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There's plenty of people that are happy to misuse a Freedom Pass etc. so I can understand the reluctance of TfL/TOCs to simply allow people to apply a discount that can't be checked (though checks are rare as hen's teeth, at least on the Tube)
Pre pandemic revenue checks were not as rare as you might imagined. They would stand at the gateline and would check for double gaters or for a gateline that flashed orange (which indicated a discount) If you had a normal oyster card you probably wouldn't notice them
 

infobleep

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PrO mist look out for the orange e pandemic revenue checks were not as rare as you might imagined. They would stand at the gateline and would check for double gaters or for a gateline that flashed orange (which indicated a discount) If you had a normal oyster card you probably wouldn't notice them
I must look out for the orange flash next time.

I've never been stopped myself when using Oyster with a discount. It must happen but it hasn't for me.
 

matt_world2004

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I must look out for the orange flash next time.

I've never been stopped myself when using Oyster with a discount. It must happen but it hasn't for me.
I would get checked on the London underground about four times a year not a huge amount but probably enough to catch if I was misusing the pass on a regular basis.
 

Hadders

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I've been checked a few times when using my Osyter with Gold Card discount.

One other consideration is how to deal with new bank cards that are issued and how you get the discount added to them.
 

GodAtum

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How easy is it for foreign holidaymakers to use contactless?

I like having an Oyster card as it does not have my personal details on so I cant be tracked.
 

PeterC

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How easy is it for foreign holidaymakers to use contactless?

I like having an Oyster card as it does not have my personal details on so I cant be tracked.
Mine is registered so it can be tracked but I like it because it only represents a few pounds in value. I can carry it in an accessible pocket to save time at the barriers in the knowledge that I will never lose more than what I have put on the card. My banks cards, which could be used for several £45 contactless transactions befoere I even knew they were gone, are carried in a secure inside pocket.

As long as the Oyster platform is used Zip, 60+ and similar cards there doesn't seem much point in phasing it out for paying customers.
 

XAM2175

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How easy is it for foreign holidaymakers to use contactless?
Most foreign-issued contactless cards will be accepted by the TfL system, but there are some exceptions that will be rejected when touch-in is attempted. I'd suggest that actually using it with a foreign card could be unwise though, as you'd incur currency conversion losses and the card issuer could charge a foreign transaction fee on each payment.
 

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Most foreign-issued contactless cards will be accepted by the TfL system, but there are some exceptions that will be rejected when touch-in is attempted. I'd suggest that actually using it with a foreign card would be unwise though, as you'd incur currency conversion losses and the card issuer could charge a foreign transaction fee on each payment.

Generally spending abroad using a card is a sensible thing to do. If yours still takes the archaic approach of a flat rate charge per transaction rather than a percentage, find a better bank!
 

XAM2175

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Generally spending abroad using a card is a sensible thing to do. If yours still takes the archaic approach of a flat rate charge per transaction rather than a percentage, find a better bank!
Some still like to do the percentage-with-a-fixed-minimum thing - and remember the question is about people with foreign cards coming to London, so they're playing on terms set by banks in their home country.

My personal preference is to use a pre-paid multi-currency card which attracts no transaction fees at all, but pre-paid cards are one of the groups that TfL single out as potentially incompatible.
 
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