London transport narrowly avoided a descent into CHAOS this weekend after many widely used public transport smart cards, know as Oyster cards, were corrupted when swiped at ticket gates. Anyone who used their Oyster card between 0530 and 0930 last Saturday is thought to have been affected.
Machines for adding credit to the cards in both underground stations and third-party ticket stops were also rendered useless by the error and passengers who topped up their cards after their early morning swipe may have to do so again.
Reports on the number of passengers affected varies wildly, but some say as many as 65,000 cards felt the icy touch of corruption that fateful Saturday morning. Transport For London (TFL) has been forced to hire 150 temporary staff in order to handle the replacement of cards.
But what of those caught on the underground at the time? As corruption flooded the normally peaceful transport infrastructure, quick thinking TFL staff opted to leave underground turnstiles open rather than risk hundreds of innocent passengers being gobbled up to feed the Oyster master brain. By which I mean forming a long queue and getting right narky with staff about the whole issue. It was a early on a Saturday morning though – can we really know how many Belgian tourists and rural-dwelling Oxford Street shoppers were lost to packs of feral smart cards roaming the gloomy warrens of the underground?
Avoiding that particular issue, TFL spokespeople has clarified that “All passengers who incur a maximum fare on Saturday 12 July will be given an automatic refund from Tuesday. They do not need to take any action.”
TFL and Oyster provider Transys are now investigating the cause of the problem.