NFC Technology Not Suitable for the London Underground

London-Underground-nfc-rfid-blogThe London Underground is one of the busiest transportation hubs in the world with around 3 million passengers a day. Recently, Transport for London (TfL), the operators of the transportation system, has been experimenting with NFC technology in hopes to make the Underground more efficient for travels.

With the 2012 Olympic Games scheduled to begin this month, TfL had hoped that its use of NFC technology would help streamline the Underground and make it more accommodating to foreign visitors. However, TfL customer experience director Shashi Verma suggests that the technology is simply not capable of expediting the Underground’s ticketing services. The TfL has conducted two studies of the technology, once in 2008 and again in 2010, and has found that NFC technology is not capable to handle the organization’s demands.

According to Verma, NFC ticketing stations are not capable of facilitating transactions in under 500 milliseconds. This is the standard at which the TfL often determines the viability of ticketing and commerce systems. The organization’s concerns lie solely in the capabilities of NFC technology, and not the devices or systems that make use of it. Verma notes that advances made to NFC technology could encourage the TfL to make use of it in the future, after the Olympic Games have passed.

For the time being, the London Underground will stick to its conventional ticketing system, which makes use of RFID technology. The organization notes that the technology standards currently governing NFC technology are not adequate enough for it to implement an NFC-based ticketing system in 2012 or 2013, but advances in NFC technology may encourage its adoption in the future.