Transport for London (TfL), which manages the city's extensive public transit network, has announced a range of improvements to its Oyster ticketing smartcard system.
For some time, Londoners have been able to top up the pay-as-you-go credit on their Oyster card, or add a Travelcard to it - for unlimited journeys within a defined period - by visiting the TfL website. But at the time of making that purchase, they've also had to nominate an Underground or rail station, tram stop or River Bus pier from which they would 'collect' their credit or Travelcard to load it onto their Oyster.
Now, those who buy Oyster credit or Travelcards online can collect their purchase from any of those locations without having to nominate it first. Even better, while it would previously take up to 24 hours for those purchases to become available to load onto an Oyster card, TfL now says that it will take no longer than 30 minutes. By the end of this autumn, you'll also be able to collect purchased Oyster credit by 'touching in' your card on board any of London's 9,000 buses.
In addition to already supporting smartphone payments through NFC, TfL is finally launching its own mobile app next month as well, "allowing customers to top up their Oyster card with pay as you go credit and buy Travelcards wherever they are". The app will be available on iOS and Android devices; given the pitifully low market share of Windows phones, it should come as no great surprise that there won't be an app for those devices.
The new TfL app will also enable passengers to check their Oyster balance, as well as delivering 'low balance' alerts on their phones, ensuring that they have enough credit to complete their journey, to avoid getting a fine.
Independent watchdog and passenger advocacy group London Travelwatch praised today's announcements, and noted that the new mobile app will make it easier for passengers to claim back any money owed to them for incomplete journeys or ticketing errors.
TfL is already planning further improvements to Oyster, including additional upgrades to the ticketing system. Last year, Londoners were treated to several hours of free travel across the entire TfL network following a crash of the Oyster system.
Source: Transport for London | Images via TfL Press / Flickr