Public trust in Oyster could be undermined, says watchdog on 19/06/2011
The research was prompted by concern about the large number of ‘incomplete journeys’ being made on Oyster Pay As You Go cards, resulting in passengers paying up to £60 million to transport companies in 2010 after not touching in or out at stations. A substantial proportion of this – up to 40% - is, effectively, an overpayment.
Sharon Grant, Chair, London TravelWatch said: “The Oyster smartcard is immensely popular, but it is clear that passengers have big knowledge and information gaps about how to get value for money, and how to claim refunds. Not only does this result in overpayment, but it threatens to undermine Oyster’s success as passengers start to lose trust in the system.”
The new research also found that as well as finding the system difficult to understand and the refund system confusing and difficult to access, many Pay As You Go passengers have a very little understanding of how fares work. They often didn’t know when or where they would be charged lower or higher fares, such as travelling on or off peak or taking a different, cheaper routes.
Sharon Grant continued: “Our research showed a surprisingly casual attitude to what is, after all, a financial product. Passengers are often unaware of how much they should be charged and how much money is stored on their card, so don’t even know if they are being overcharged or not.
“There needs to be another concerted education and information campaign to fill the gaps in knowledge and understanding of Oyster, and the difficulties in resolving ‘incomplete’ journeys need to be looked at and removed. We need operators to do better if they want to retain people’s trust. Oyster is a good product, offering convenience to passengers, and we would hate to see passengers’ faith in it undermined and damaged.”
Check out London TravelWatch's Handy Tips for Avoiding Incomplete Journeys on Oyster Pay As You Go.
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