Oyster users “overcharged” by �60million

Freedom of Information request shows pay as you go customers losing up to �60million by not touching out properly

OYSTER card users were “ripped” off by up to �60million last year as a result of overcharging, says a leading London Assembly member.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat London Assembly Group Caroline Pidgeon says between December 2009 and November 2010, pay as you go Oyster users were charged almost �60million because of not properly swiping out.

When Oyster users do not swipe out - because barriers are not working properly, are left open or where the card isn’t swiped accurately - they are automatically charged the maximum single fare of �6.

Ms Pidgeon says the figures - obtained through the Freedom of Information Act - show the problem got progressively worse throughout the year - Transport for London says the problem grew because of the extension of the Oyster pay as you go to all 350 National Rail stations across London in January last year.

Ms Pidgeon is now calling on passengers to be able to access figures on levels of overcharging at each tube and rail station across the capital.

“The rise in Oyster overcharging throughout 2010 is just one further insult to passengers who are now being hit for six by steep fare rises from both the Mayor of London and the railway operating companies,” she said.

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“If passengers actually knew how much overcharging was taking place at every tube and train station changes would quickly take place. It is time that a league table was published showing exactly how much people are being ripped off at each and every tube and train station.

“It is simply not good enough for the Mayor and TfL to wash their hands and just blame the rise in Oyster overcharging on the train operating companies. Of course the train companies have an obligation to get their act together but the Mayor and Transport for London also need to take action, especially as so many tube users are being ripped off as well.

“The Mayor should also not wriggle out of his promise to Londoners that Oyster pay as you go journeys on the railways will nearly always be cheaper than traditional railway cash fares.”

A TfL spokesman said: “TfL is not aware that it is ‘overcharging’ customers. We are confident that the Oyster system is charging customers correctly, and in doing so it has earned the confidence of the millions of customers now using the system.

“The data used by the system is comprehensively tested and we are confident that the number of errors within the system’s extremely large fares data sets is negligible.

“For numerous reasons, linked frequently to the failure of customers to validate correctly, customers can end up being charged more or less than they expect.

“In the context of the scale of the Oyster system and the number of daily transactions handled, we are satisfied that there is not a major problem with the way that the system charges.”