London Celebrates Oyster Card’s 10th Birthday

Ten years ago, the Transport for London said to commuters: “the world is your oyster.” They meant this figuratively, and quite literally.

The London Oyster card, the capital’s travel smartcard, was first conceived on June 30, 2003 to make inter-city travel easier. 

Its installation forever changed the country’s transportation and payment system, and represents one of the world’s most popular travel smartcard. Since its launch, there have been 60 million Oyster cards adopted by commuters and tourists visiting London.

The smartcard’s moniker emerged from three names that made the shortlist. The almost-famous alternatives were the “Gem” and the “Pulse” card, but in the end, it was oyster that won over the Transport for London committee.

Oysters were commonly associated with the city of London and its landmark the River Thames. In the end, it was the new name’s resonation with the infamous idiom, “The world is your oyster,” that sealed the deal. Members were keen to associate the travel card’s new name with infinite accessibility.

The Oyster card has helped to eliminate the paper receipts and tickets that Londoners often collected in their pocketbooks. The pay-as-you-go cards have significantly shortened lines, and bus boarding is three times faster. Remarkably, the Oyster card admits 40 passengers through tickets gates each minute, while only 15 people could pass with the old paper ticket system.

The Oyster card also allows consumers to get more value from their money and it rewards frequent travelers with the opportunity to save a few extra pounds. The first daily price cap was established on the Oyster card in 2005. By 2010 the service was extended to all rail services operating in Greater London, which included both the underground and overground trains.

The Oyster card has become a part of British culture, as it has been used to commemorate significant events in the UK. During the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, special edition cards were made and featured an iconic portrait of Her Majesty. Other events have decorated the card, namely the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics Games, the Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, and the 150-year anniversary of the London Underground. 

A representative from the London Travel told BBC News, “Oyster has revolutionized the journey experience for Londoners and the decision to extend Oyster Pay As You Go (PAYG) to rail three years ago was a big step towards achieving the integrated transport network London needs and deserves.”

To read the full story at BBC News click here.

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