The oyster card holder has died. Over a decade of service and its time has come to an end. Two halves joined by flexible plastic that were slowly rent asunder by use beyond its design.

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Although the card holder is one of the original designs, your correspondent was not an early adopter.

Concerns about privacy caused delays. Over the next few years, regular press releases from TfL about how popular the Oyster card was proved to be no lure for this reluctant converter.

It was a deliberate policy by TfL to cause a massive price difference to emerge between the cost of a paper ticket and the Oyster that eventually caused a conversion from one to the other.

Principles can last only so far when faced with such additional cost burden.

Thus the first oyster card holder was acquired. A replacement for the pocket wallet as well, it has long carried credit cards and various library membership cards.

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The outside pocket long a convenient location for the most used payment card has long since fractured away to being of little use other than offering a fraying shard of plastic to catch on unwary clothing.

The small corrugated fold becoming more used in recent years thanks to dire warnings not to mix up oyster and contactless. Where card holder was used unopened, now every journey required one side to touch the ticket barrier in isolation from the other half.

From barely used, the join in the two halves of the oyster card holder spent its last few years working more vigorously than it had ever been designed to cope with.

Finally, with a last gasp, it gave up. Torn asunder by overuse. One oyster card holder was now two.

Years of loyal service untimely curtailed.

A decade of a person’s life has been defined by that little blue wallet. Thousands of visits to shops where goods were paid for by revealing the oyster card holder, and within, the credit card it contained.

Every transaction, every purchase, shops, pubs, museums, all triggers by the presence of the blue wallet. But every wallet had its time, and time that has to come to an end. The final journey completed. The final purchase made.

The oyster card wallet is dead. Long live the oyster card wallet.

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11 comments
  1. Thomas says:

    Is this TFL current layout? Or something special? And how’s the other side looking like? I like those logos…

  2. Kake says:

    The red roundel one! I still have mine, too, though it’s in rather better nick since I haven’t put it to as many uses as yours.

    I felt sure that there should be a website somewhere with photos of oyster card holders over the years, but either my Google-fu is failing or nobody ever got around to it.

    • martin says:

      I once donated one that the Transport Museum at a depot open day, and got a Platform for Art one in exchange for my BBC Club branded one. So there may be a collection somewhere…

  3. Nick Flowers says:

    Love the title of the article. Is your name Alfred, Lord Tennyson by any chance?

  4. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Nick,

    That threw me though. I thought logically it ought to be la mort but there do seem to be some references to le morte.

  5. ChrisMitch says:

    I sellotape mine back together every once in a while. It works for me…

  6. Ros says:

    I’ve got a pretty Geffrye museum one but only contains freedom pass and railcard -NEVER credit etc cards
    Would be worried about losing the lot! Let alone paying twice!
    But yes many have split and cracked over the years!

  7. As a Beatles fan, I have an Abbey Road wallet (the famous photo of the Fab Four on the zebra crossing) and another with “All you need is love”.

    Plus, I spashed out on a commemorateve Oyster card, itself, with the 150 years of the Underground (limited edition).

    A Ticket to Ride?

  8. Simon Watson says:

    Any idea if that particular card holder is still available? I’ve looked everywhere with little success…

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