Case Study: London Oyster® Card System

Transport for London’s Oyster® Card system, the most sophisticated regional and multimodal automated fare payment and revenue management system in the world, relies on infrastructure designed, supplied and supported by Cubic. With more than 29 million cards in circulation, London’s highly acclaimed Oyster contactless smart card is now the most widely circulated smart card in Europe.

As a leader in the TranSys consortium, Cubic designed, developed and installed the extensive Oyster Card system for London’s Underground and buses.  We are now providing maintenance and support services for more than 20,000 devices deployed across the massive London Underground and bus network, as well as 4,000 retail ticketing devices. Oyster facilities have been extended to the National Rail companies that operate into and out of London, giving customers the ability to pay their fares with the Oyster card.


Public transport across London has experienced phenomenal growth since the introduction of Oyster. Bus patronage has increased 53% to almost two billion rides per year, while ridership across the Tube and Docklands Light Railway has increased almost 20% and more than 100%. Cash-only fares now comprise 1.6% of all bus trips and 3.5% of Tube fares. This compares to 17.9% on bus and 18.8% on the Tube in 2003-2004 and, more significantly, 25.5% on bus and 20.7% on the Tube in 1999-2000.

In December of 2006, an exclusive deal was struck with Barclays Bank in London to develop OnePulse, a new payment card that hosts both the Oyster® and Barclaycard Visa on one card. The new cards were introduced in London in the fall of 2007.

Since 2004, the London system has received several prestigious British awards including the “Modernising Government Award.”

The system is a benchmark of success at every level – design, implementation, operations and customer satisfaction – which will continue as London prepares to host the 2012 Olympics.

London At-a-Glance:

  • The world’s largest and most complex multi-modal smart card system for public transport
  • 29 million Oyster® cards issued use since May 2003
  • Links London Underground, buses, Dockland Light Railway, London Overground, trams, Thames River Boat, most National Rail services within London fare zones
  • 9.9 million trips made on Transport for London services every day
  • Recipient of numerous technology and operational awards