PROJECT PROTEUS: TfL is to spend US$951m upgrading its revenue collection system

Transport for London (TfL) is planning to integrate its Oyster closed-loop transit card into an account-based ticketing system for contactless fare payments as part of a network-wide scheme to upgrade its revenue collection system, according to a call for competition issued by the transit agency’s trading arm, Transport Trading Ltd.

The upgrade — known as Project Proteus — will also include “allowing the interchangeable use of payment devices” by linking a passenger’s chosen payment card to mobile devices, the replacement of validation readers and other hardware and the introduction of “potential future revenue collection services (and the provision of associated systems and ancillary services)” such as “new emerging forms of mobility including micro-mobility, Mobility-as-a- Service, new ticketing and fare payment solutions and commercial revenue collection data”.

The call for competition also reveals that TfL is in “ongoing discussions” with the UK’s Department for Transport about a separate project which “seeks to extend contactless pay-as-you-go [ticketing] to stations in the broader south-east of England around London”.

Key changes

“During the life of the Proteus Contract, we anticipate that there will be a number of changes,” the call for competition says.

“The key planned changes expected to be delivered during the Proteus Contract term include: 

Hina Rail Reader Rollout: The Hina Rail Readers will be manufactured, tested and be readily available for the Proteus Contractor to implement onto the rail estate;

Payment Account Reference (PAR): This is a unique identifier associated with a specific cardholder PAN and this change will follow-on from the Hina reader deployment and will involve the Proteus Contractor. This change will allow us to link mobile devices with the payment card, allowing the interchangeable use of payment devices;

Account Based Ticketing/FTP5: This is our programme that will make Oyster an account-based system. Initially, this is likely to be a proof of concept involving design and back-office development work which we will lead on. Once the Proteus Contractor is in place, we will engage with developing the wider proposition to develop the system wide solution. This change will involve significant upgrade to our retail assets, changes to the reader to support the new risk management models, changes to the RID software as well as decommissioning the legacy Oyster system;

Revenue Inspection Device (RID) Replacement and Enhancement: This is the replacement of the current handheld device for revenue inspection. It is expected to be a broadly like-for-like device upgrade to the Android platform device. We expect the next device may need to additionally include the ability to check barcode tickets.”

TfL is planning to award the contract in August 2024 with an initial duration of seven years and the option to extend it to 12 years. There is an initial seven-year budget of £800m (US$951m) and a total 12-year budget of £1.5bn (US$1.8bn), according to the call for competition. 

TfL revealed in November 2020 that it is planning to integrate its Oyster transit card and contactless fare payment systems.

Transport for London sets out plans for next generation transport ticketing solution was written by Tom Phillips and published by NFCW.

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