Pearly gates

posted 29 July 2003
Ooh, they're here! Transport for London has finally got its act together and introduced smartcards on all its trains and buses to replace the old system of thousands of (environmentally-unfriendly, fragile) cardboard tickets with magnetic strips. The somewhat oddly-named new Oyster cards are re-usable, and you don't have to take them out of your wallet for them to work -- just pass them over the reader, and you're through -- which should hopefully speed the progress of people through the gates. Better still, if you lose your card, you haven't lost your ticket -- you just report it missing, that card is cancelled, and they send you a new card with your ticket loaded onto it instead.

Currently they're only available in monthly and annual versions, but as the price drops they will become available for weekly and daily tickets too. Conveniently, they come just when I'm about to buy my first monthly travelcard for my new job, so I can be a cool trendsetter with my nifty remotely-read smartcard, which will almost certainly fail to work in a humourous fashion the first time I use it.

Forgive me for being geeky here; I don't really know why I find these so cool. I've just been waiting to see these cards introduced for a long time -- the little yellow readers started appearing on tube gates more than a year ago. And I really do hate the horribly low-tech paper tickets, they're such a pain.

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