TfL terminates Oyster contract

Summary:Transport for London has ended its contract with Transys, citing business reasons for the break. The future of the system is uncertain

Transport for London has terminated its contract with the Transys consortium that provides the Oyster ticketing system for the London Underground, buses and trams.

The consortium, which comprises EDS and Cubic, will continue to operate the system for the next two years. However, TfL has confirmed that the consortium owns the Oyster brand, leaving confusion over how the transistion to any replacement system will be implemented.

A spokesperson for TfL insisted that the contract has been terminated due to business reasons, and not because of two consecutive outages that hit London over two weeks last month. The spokesperson also said that Dutch security researchers cracking the Oyster card had nothing to do with the decision, which had been in review for some time and was purely focussed on value for money. The spokesperson declined to go into the details of what criteria were used to assess this, but TfL decided to terminate the contract now by exercising a ten year break option stipulated in the original contract, signed in 1998.

Transys will continue to operate the Oyster system until 2010, the consortium stated, but negotiations for a revamp of the 10-year-old system were not successful.

"The London transport system has changed dramatically over the past 10 years," Transys said in a statement. "For the benefit of all stakeholders, contract negotiations have been taking place over the last year between Transys and TfL. The Transys consortium will continue to operate and deliver for the next two years."

"The Mayor and Transport for London are convinced that any new contract will deliver enhanced services for less money, driving significant savings. The Mayor is keen to improve the Oyster card to make it even more attractive for Londoners and TfL will work to make sure this happens both quickly and in a way that represents the best value.", TfL said in a statement.

The procurement process for a replacement system operator is imminent. Any new system would have to be established and capable of supporting the increase in use expected for the London 2012 Olympics.

Topics: Security

About

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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