Thursday

Thursday 6/3/2003I fancy an Oyster. Not the marine bivalve -- although I'll take the role of Walrus or Carpenter at the drop of a white rabbit -- but the new London Underground ticketing system.

Thursday 6/3/2003
I fancy an Oyster. Not the marine bivalve -- although I'll take the role of Walrus or Carpenter at the drop of a white rabbit -- but the new London Underground ticketing system. Formerly known as the Prestige project, this is a programme to replace those bits of paper with wireless smartcards. It's cost LUL around £1.2bn, but it should make life swifter as us congestion-charged Londoners try to percolate through the thrombosis of the tube. It's supposed to pay for itself after a while and then turn a small profit, but whether I believe that or not I don't know.

Now, it appears that the business of introducing the Oyster will be a staged affair. London Underground staff already have theirs, as part of the beta test: some time in the near future, people who order annual Gold Cards online will get theirs, followed by monthly online orders and, finally, those who buy their tickets at stations. I'm a monthly man meself, so instead of renewing in the queue at Holloway Road I repair to www.ticket-on-line.co.uk (two hyphens. Ugh). It may have escaped your notice, but I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to big online e-commerce ventures: blow me down if the ticket didn't arrive the next day, courtesy of Keith Prowse and coming with its own charmingly hologrammed receipt disguised as a ticket to a rock concert. Now all I have to do is wait for the powers that be to email me and offer me my Oyster card, and I'll be at the forefront of early adoptivity once again.

As for the security aspects: do I mind if they know where I am on the tube? Not really, and if I do, I'll just buy a single from the machines.

I'll report back.