During the Contactless Technology in Transportation session at CARTES, Nicole Carrol of EDS announced that London’s contactless ticketing project was officially launched. The much-anticipated name for the card is the “Oyster.” According to Ms. Carrol, the name has meaning because “the oyster protects a pearl in much the same way that the card protects the cardholder’s money.”
For several months, 8,000 employees of London’s multi-modal transit system have been testing the Oyster cards and the system. On the morning of November 5, the first public cards were issued to dignitaries such as London’s mayor Ken Livingstone. “From next year the traveling public can look forward to less queuing to buy tickets and faster movement through ticket gates and onto buses,” said Mayor Livingstone. “This new technology will play an important part in modernising London’s transport.”
The project was awarded to a consortium of vendors in 1998 including Fujitsu, Cubic, and EDS. The 17- year contract will cover an investment of £1.2 billion or roughly US$2 billion.
Although the initial cards are mifare® 1k, the program has also ordered Cubic’s GO CARD®. According to Ms. Carrol, the London project will be the world’s largest multimodal ticketing system when it reaches its goal of 14 million cards issued by early 2003.