Me and a work mate had to go to an evening work thing tonight and when we got to Piccadilly Circus, she got out her Oystercard & I almost couldn't believe my eyes. Anyway, she didn't know that it would work inside her bag so we tried it out on the way home and it worked. It looked so cool to wave your bag over a little yellow thingy and for the barrier gates to open - as if by magic.
I love reports on the tube from people outside of the UK and this article in by Scarlett Pruitt (what a top name) in Singapore, is brilliant on the Oystercard:
"LONDON (10/28/2003) - The London Underground, commonly known as the Tube, can be a Darwinian place -- only the fit survive.
It's not just the cramming in the cars, the wind tunnel passageways and the imminent delays, it's also a matter of getting in and out of the turnstiles without being run over, caught or mocked. That's right -- tourists and slow learners who don't realize they need to first insert their tickets into the turnstile and then yank it out the top before the gates will open, get huffs and frustrated stares by locals stepping on their heels. (see unofficial tube rule on swiping)
"While the Tube's overcrowding problems look unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, London transport officials are at least hoping to ease the turnstile traffic jams, (see a barrier tube rule) reduce ticket-buying queues and lessen the embarrassment of some, with the introduction of a new smart card ticketing system dubbed Oyster.......
"Londoners have not been as aggressive with Oyster card adoption as they sometimes are in Tube corridors, however. Nearly four months after its introduction passengers are gradually sampling Oyster, as many still carry the old cards. While transport staff have been trained on the new system and posters hang from some stations, Oyster has yet to come out of its shell."