The BBC arrived at freshers fair today to follow up on complaints about the student Oyster application system, which has resulted in a year-old article resurfacing on Live!
Students have been complaining since mid-September of problems with the system, ranging from failed uploads to double charging and the site finally breaking altogether. Some are particularly colourful with their language, with many apparently believing Live! is some form of TfL blog. Those students able to apply several weeks ago seem to have had few problems, with many Imperial students receiving their Oyster cards when they arrived on Saturday.
The application process requires College registration to have been completed, so those who registered late have been caught by high loads as thousands of students attempt to use the application site as they arrive at University. The problem particularly affects international students, who may not have received all the information about the student discounts in advance of their arrival. The problem has been exacerbated by limited supplies of paper forms, meaning some institutions are unable to provide them at all.
In addition to the site not working at all at the time of writing, it has previously been throwing up errors during applications, sometimes taking money from accounts without notifying students that their application had been accepted. They then re-apply and get charged twice.
BBC London took up the story after being contacted by Live!, with reporter Marc Ashdown coming on-site at freshers fair to talk to students. An outside broadcast van turned up, which as well as making stoic tv drool also allowed a live interview to be broadcast from the fair at 13:30. A further more detailed report appeared on the 18:30 regional bulletin.
TfL has issued an apology for the problems, stating they will try and resolve the situation in the "next few days". They have processed around 46,000 applications since 1st September, which is around 25% of the total applications received last year - many universities have been in session for 2 weeks already.
Anyone experiencing problems is advised to try "out of office hours", before 10am or after 4pm, although Live!'s experience shows that after 10pm and before 4am may be more likely to work.
The TfL apology comes on the same day that ULU have launched a new petition for single-journey and daily discounts with the student Oyster card. They are asking that students sign it to show their support for an extension of the discount scheme.