Is TfL getting greedy with Oysters?

Stat of the day: £55m - The amount of credit estimated to be languishing on unused Oyster cards.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 21 Jan 2016
Oyster cards, the pay-as-you-go style cards used to travel around London’s transport system, caused all sorts of controversy when they were first introduced, but since then they’ve been seen by Londoners as rather natty: not only do they save money, but they save time, too.

Perhaps not quite as much of the latter as you’d think, though: according to information obtained under a Freedom of Information request by the Liberal Democrats, there are 17m Oyster cards sitting at the back of Londoners’ wallets which have gone unused for the past 12 months, loaded with £55m.

Now the Lib Dems want Transport for London to make it easier for people to get their money back. ‘They claim people can easily reclaim their money from dormant Oyster cards but the evidence suggests otherwise,’ said Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Lib Dems’ London Assembly Group. ‘If it really was simple… why has the amount left on dormant Oyster cards doubled in the past two years?’

To be fair to TfL, anecdotal evidence suggests the amounts on the majority of unused cards are negligible, while many Londoners keep spare Oyster cards ready-loaded for visitors. So TfL’s ‘cash pile’ (Pidgeon’s words, not ours) probably isn’t at the top of Boris Johnson’s to-do list quite yet…

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