Londoners have left up to £55m unused on their Oyster cards and have yet to claim it back, it has emerged.
London Assembly Liberal Democrat leader Caroline Pidgeon has accused Transport for London (TfL) of being “shy about telling people how they can get their own money back”, after it emerged the large sum was left across a total of 17 million Oyster cards.
Pidgeon, after receiving the figures through a Freedom of Information request, said: “Transport for London (TfL) is now sitting on a cash pile of £55m which should be returned to passengers.”
She continued: “They [TfL] claim people can easily reclaim their money from dormant Oyster cards but the evidence suggests otherwise. If it really was simple for passengers to reclaim their money, why has the amount left on dormant Oyster cards doubled in the last two years?”
Despite Pidgeon’s protests, transport watchdog London TravelWatch said it does not believe there are too many obstacles in the way of commuters who want to reclaim money on Oyster cards.
A spokesman for the group said: “While we don’t necessarily consider that it is too difficult for passengers to obtain refunds on unused Oyster cards, it is important to remind them that pay as you go Oyster cards do not expire and can be returned to a Tube ticket office at any time for a refund of the remaining balance and their £5 card deposit.
“It is also important to note that all unused/unclaimed Oyster balances are held in the same TfL account as all fares revenue and other income and TfL is able to use these ‘dormant’ funds to fund costs related to operating, maintaining and upgrading London’s transport network.”
TfL was keen to point out that customers could get their money back whenever they asked for it.
”Pay as you go Oyster cards do not expire and customers are able to return their cards to a Tube ticket office at any time for a refund of the remaining balance and card deposit,” said TfL director of customer experience Shashi Verma.
“Registered Oyster card users are also able to claim balance refunds without presenting their card, for example if a card is lost or stolen.