Oyster Cards / Travelcards, London
When you're in London, the Oyster card is one very usefull thing. Regular price for tube one way ticket (in Central London) is 4 pounds. With Oyster card it cost only 1.5 pounds. You can buy this card at ant Subway station. The card with 2 pounds credit is 5 pounds + you can add on it as much money as you like.
Don't throw away your Oyster card cos you can use it forever!
Make sure you get yourself an Oyster card. You can get this from all underground stations and some newsagents. It's a small electronic card that has replaced the old paper tickets system - which is slowing being phased out! Look for the yellow rings at undergrounds station ticket gates, on buses and trams. You don't even need to take your oyster card out of its wallet, even works when its in a thin bag! The fastest, cheapest way to travel - I say that as a user of 3 years. ALways go for 1 week or more travelcards because you save more if you are staying even just 4 days or something it will still work out cheaper if you are planning to run around a lot. Be warned that this is not yet valid on surface trains so you may get fined!
Here is the definitive guide to the cost of the tickets and travel cards for London. Though a zone 1 and 2 travel card covers the needs of most tourists, for anyone staying longer it is worth investigating cheaper options, espcially the Oyster prepayment card.
Check out the pass that's right for you.
Mostly you want something like a pass for zone 1-2, zone 1 is where all the sites of london are, and zone 2 might be somewhere you're staying (like me, because I'm staying with a friend).
We purchased a 4 day Tube Pass before we left home. It was very convenient as we didn't have to purchase separate tickets each time we used the tube. You must buy them before entering the UK. Check out the website listed below.
One caution, it must be validated at a station before you can use it, and not every station has a validation office. So plan ahead, otherwise you will be plunking down coins unnecessarily.
KEEP YOUR TICKETS THROUGHOUT THE ENTIRE JOURNEY!
Unlike NY Metro cards or single trip tickets, the London Tube requires you to keep your ticket or card the entire journey and for you to insert it again or touch it to the pad (depending on what you get) when you leave the station so they can keep track of your journey. This is because they charge for the distance that you go. NY subways charge a flat rate $2 (but I've heard the monthlies and weeklies are going up!) for however long or short your distance is. London Tube system charges when you leave zone 1 (central London) to zone 2, 3, 4, 5, etc.
Keep your ticket.
For short week long vacations, get a weekly pass or visitor pass. If you're here for longer, I suggest you get an Oyster card (which you'll hear the subway announcements mention a lot) This card is not paper but a durable plastic and can be "topped up" with however much you want to put on it and you get your tube and bus rides at a discount. (2 quid for a zone 1 Tube ride goes down to 1.70 quid I believe and 1.20 quid bus rides go down to 70p)
It also won't get destroyed in your pocket or bag so you won't get stuck at a turnstile!
Also, the subway train doesn't flush with the platform, so watch out for the gap between the platform and the train. It's sort of like the gap for the 4-5-6 at 14th street, without the automatic step.
There are many combinations of travel tickets you can buy as a tourist in London. Travel in London is expensive, so the best thing to do is get a travelcard. These are available in daily, weekly, or monthly increments and are sold at ticket counters and machines at tube or train stations. They allow unlimited travel on the tube, most buses, and more.
First of all, there are different zones in London, and travel outside of zones 1 and 2 will cost more than within those zones. When buying a ticket make sure you know which zones you will be travelling through. For example, tickets for a one-way journey in zone 1 costs 2 pounds.
A one-day travelcard is available for travel after 9:30am on Mondays through Fridays and unlimited times on weekends.
Visitor cards are available for travel in all zones from 2-7 days, and for travel in zones 1 and 2 for 3, 4, or 7 days. For convenience, you can buy them from your home country and it will be mailed to you before your trip a week before it is valid.
Check the website for fares and combinations of tickets and zones.
The most economical way to travel around London is to purchase a London Travel Card.
These can be purchased from any Tube or Main Line station in London or alternatively online prior to your visit.
The London Travel Card will gain access to Tubes / Trains & Buses within specified zones.
For more information please visit the link below.
I purchased a 7-day Visitor Travelcard for Zones 1-2, for just over 20 GBP, from the London Travel Pass website. The Travelcard itself (not a voucher for a card) arrived at my home well in advance of my journey, so I stepped right off the Gatwick Express train and onto the Tube - no queues. The Travelcard carried no time restrictions during the day, either. I traveled early, late and often.
I can't tell you how convenient it was not having to pay-as-you-go or queue up for tickets. I made over 40 Zone 1-2 journeys during my week there, which would have cost over 80 GBP without a Travelcard.
The Vistor Travelcard also gave a 20% concession on several of the attractions I visited.
Read all the other Travel Card postings for useful info - then read this.
If you are heading for London from home you can order a Travel Card or Heathrow Express Travel card online from Transport for London. The price is based on the number of days and zones you plan to travel - up to 7 days.
The Heathrow Express fare gives you a roundtrip from the airport to the city in addition to unlimited travel in London Zones 1& 2 for a week - for 42.80 pounds. (Less, for fewer days.)
Note : you MUST order from abroad. The card will be mailed to you at least 1 week prior to your departure.
Imagine how simple it will be to step off the plane and onto a train that whisks you into London - with no annoying stops at the exchange desk!
When we got to London the first thing we did is to buy an oyster card. We bought it from a store close to our hotel and if I can remember it right the minimum value you can put in it is GBP5. We just add more money to it as we need it.
Oh, don't worry if you weren't able to use them all. Just go to any underground station and surrender your Oyster card and they'll give you a refund of whatever amount is still left in your Oyster card.
I have lived in London for well over 20 years now and know my way around pretty well, so I try to answer VT forum tips on the city when I can. By far the most common question asked seems to be in relation to Oyster Cards and Travel Cards. I don't propose to go into the relative merits here, it really depends on too many factors which one will suit you best. The authorities have made ordinary tickets so prohibitively expensive that you are well advised to use one or the other. What I do want to do is alert you to a disgraceful scam being perpetrated by the transport companies.
I use the Oster Card (pictured) which is a pre-paid credit type card you can use on the bus, tube Docklands Light Railway and certain suburban train lines. Very recently (January 2011) I read a report in a local newspaper who had obtained information under the Freedom of Information Act. It stated that last year, the transport companies overcharged passengers to the tune of a staggering £60 million ($95.4 million US). This is how it works. On a train or underground journey, you must "tap in" and "tap out" i.e. press your card on the reader at both ends of your journey. If you do not do this you will be charged maximum fare.
Here is my personal experience from a couple of weeks ago. I went by Tube to Waterloo station to catch a train that I cannot use my Oyster on, of which more later. due to the poor signage at Waterloo (and I know the place) I tapped out and then mistakenly tapped into another line, thinking it was the way out to the overground train. I realised my mistake and the attendant let me back through the barrier, telling me to get the fare adjusted at the ticket office.
As always, there was only one ticket office open and a large queue, and I had a train to catch so I left it until the next day until I returned to my home station where I know a few of the staff. I went to the window there and was horrified to discover they had charged my £8:80 for a £1:90 journey. It gets worse. I explained the situation and the attendant said that he could see by reading my card I was telling the truth but because my card was not registered (this is not a requirement) he could only refund half the excess, so I have been grossly overcharged for my journey.
There is much anecdotal evidence that barriers are being deliberately left open at smaller stations in the hope that people will forget to "tap out" and generate extra penalty revenue for the operators.
I mentioned the registration issue and suburban trains and here is another thing to bear in mind. the train I intended to catch accepts Oyster Cards but only if they are registered. I have to queue up and buy a paper ticket. I can see no legitimate reason for this as the barrier would not open if I did not have sufficient funds for the journey. Therefore, you should always check before trying to get on a train if your unregistered Oyster is valid or, you have guessed it, you will be liable to a penalty fare.
On buses, you only have to "tap in", everywhere else, "tap in" and "tap out".
Confused, you will be!
I would definatly get an oyster card the price of fares is less (sometimes significantly) with oyster when travelling around all of greater london
If you travel through london remember about the congestion (and parking) costs
An oyster card is a great idea if you are planning on using public transport during your stay in London.Smarter, faster and more economical than paper tickets, get an Oyster card to get the best London public transport fares.
Travelcards are ideal. You can get them for one day and 7 days. Traveling off peak (after 9:30 a.m.) makes it cheaper. You can buy a book of 10 tickets for the tube for zone 1. Kids 15 and under can travel free on the busses, 11-15 need a photo with the Oyster card for this.
London Transport offers visitor travel cards that you can buy online, single tickets, and 7 day travelcards which don't need a photo. They can be bought up to 90 days in advance and will be delivered to you. There doesn't seem to be a cost for mailing them from what i can tell but it's just as easy to get them when you arrive.
Check to see how many zones you want. Most of the tourist stuff is in Zone 1-2 and the basic one day travel card covers this including DLR and busses. A six zone pass will go quite far including the commuter rail. I've used one that was good at least as far as Rayleigh in Essex or Hampton Court/Richmond. Check the London Transport website for maps and info.
You can also get bus only passes which are much cheaper if you don't plan to take the tube, DLR or overland commuter trains. 2010 prices are £16.60 for a 7 day adult pass. Student discounts are available but i think probably only for UK schools and you need to have a student ID card. Photos are only needed now for passes for a month or longer.
Then there's the Oyster card. This is really the way to go for any length of stay in London. The TFL really to push this as an alternative to paper tickets and passes. You can load the cards with any kind of travelcard or just pre-pay for pay-as-you-go. Oyster cards are touched to a pad at the entrance and exit to the tube gates, busses and tramlinks and are generally prepaid amounts with a daily maximum charged. Currently they are not accepted on National Rail. You can register the card and if it gets stolen you can get a replacement. Convenient for longer stays. No photo required. See the TFL website for more details.
This would be the ideal way to do it as a card is more convenient, doesn't get ruined if it gets wet or bent and is easier to find in your wallet or pocket. We bought a 7 day bus pass and weren't given the option of a paper pass at all, they sold us an Oyster card and loaded on the pass. You can also use the pass "pay as you go" and just put an amount on it. there is a daily cap so you won't get charged more than a one day travel card each day. If you visit London frequently, save them and load them up with passes or cash when you return. I've also lent them to friends to use as well.
You can load them with passes/cash at machines or at the counter.