Newslinks | 26th September 2007

The NewsEditor

Oyster Card to be used for bank payments? has an interesting article about the developments afoot in giving Oyster Cards more functionality.

Although Oyster is the biggest such scheme in Europe, in Hong Kong and Japan the equivalent near-field technology is incorporated into mobile phones, watches, and credit-cards. They allow payment for small goods, and a simplified way of getting from A to B on one device.

Barclays' OnePulse card is a system based on this technology, but is quite distinct from the new plans being made by TfL. Currently Barclays has a 3 year contract with TfL for access to this technology, in exchange for undisclosed licensing fees.

As the article states:

"By combining contactless retail and fare-collection into one application, banks could potentially collect transaction fees on the hundreds of millions of rides customers take every year on subways, buses and other modes of transit in greater London. This might make it attractive one day for many banks to issue cards supporting Oyster. The transit authority is also considering putting Oyster on contactless mobile phones that support Near Field Communication. “We (one day) wouldn’t have to supply cards at all,” speculated Transport for London’s Dobson."

Clearly this is of benefit to the consumer, but there are privacy issues which LondonUnlocked hopes the GLA will challenge the Mayor and TfL on. In addition the massive revenue that can be raised from schemes such as these must be transparently published, and put directly back into transport renewal, and not advertising.

Hydrogen Bus Alliance

TfL has issued a press release regarding the Hydrogen Bus Alliance, which "aims to support the continued and rapid development and commercialisation of hydrogen technology in the public transport sector".

The group's aims are worthy, and certainly LondonUnlocked believes that if buses are made more environmentally friendly, and if the carbon footprint they create is made to diminish, that more people will travel on them.

Certainly Ken Livingstone has indicated his interest in schemes such as this, and Conservative Mayoral frontrunner, Boris Johnson, has spoken of creating a modern fleet of routemasters. It is essential that if he wins both the nomination and election, that schemes such as this, or of electric buses are seriously considered. We need a new type of politics which looks more at long term benefit rather than short term cost.