London Oyster Card Question

Old May 1st, 2006, 07:53 AM
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Neopolitan
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London Oyster Card Question

I have read the Oyster Card details and still can't find the answer to my question.

We stay in Covent Garden and find many days we don't use the tube or busses at all (especially those many days when we see two plays in a day). So we've learned not to buy a week or continuous days of travelcard.
On other days we have usually found that a one day off peak travelcard is our best bet.

So the question is: do we pay less loading a one day off peak travelcard onto an oyster than we do if we just buy one? I'm unclear if there is any advantage to the oyster card for us staying 10 days and probably only using the tube about half of those days.

By the way, this trip we won't be using the tube for airport connections as we are arriving and departing from Gatwick.
 
Old May 1st, 2006, 07:56 AM
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Oyster Card is simply a pre-paid debit card that you put money into and then just flash when entering the system thus good for solo trips as you need not buy tickets and they are slightly cheaper with the Oyster Card, as are TravelCards i believe but in your case the difference for what you plan to do is piddling so why fool around getting the OysterCard, which is really a boon to frequent tube travelers but neglible savings for you.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 08:20 AM
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Contrary to PalQ, I think the Oyster card would work to your advantage for a ten-day stay. On any days you take a lot of rides, it will cap out and you will never pay more than what a one-day travelcard would have cost you. On days you take only a few rides, you get a reduced fare for each ride. On days you don't use it at all, it costs you nothing. When you're ready to leave London, you get your deposit back plus any money you loaded on the card that you didn't spend.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 08:29 AM
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I will try to explain it and I hope it's clear...

The only possible downside to oyster is the £3 "deposit" although some have reported it's a pain in the petuna to get refunded so let's just call it a £3 charge but remember..

1. Cash fares on oyster are always cheaper than paying cash. A single in zone 1 on the tube is £3, on oyster £1.50 so just a return trip on the tube will make up for the £3 (but then again you don't buy a return trip on the tube for cash, you buy a one day travelcard although many non English speakers may not be aware of it)...Buses...cash fare £1.50, with oyster 80p (except for a brief period during morning rush hours weekdays when it is £1).

2. Bus passes are cheaper on oyster. One day bus pass cash £3.50, one day bus pass on oyster £3

3. One day non peak travelcards (zones 1 & 2) are cheaper on oyster..cash £4.90, oyster £4.40...

Now all that in itself makes oyster the better deal but here's the real winner for oyster...you don't have to make a decision at the start of each day...the great oyster computer in the sky (probably at tfl headquarters) makes it for you with capping...

You don't buy a specific pass on oyster...you buy prepaid money amount. So let's say you start out by putting 10 quid on an oyster card (plus of course the 3 quid deposit)..

On that day you start out after 0930 and take a tube ride...okay £1.50 comes off the card...you take the tube back to your hotel...another £1.50...then you decide to take the tube to a restaurant and the tube back to convent garden to go to a show...the first tube ride another £1.50 off the card nope...when you reach the cap of £4.40 for the one day travelcard it stops subtracting so for the third ride off would come £1.40 and the fourth ride nothing comes off the oyster prepaid has become a 1 day travelcard...totally flexible.

2. The next day you decide to use the buses exclusively to visit various points of interest....and only the bus...first bus ride after 0900 off comes 80p, next bus ride off comes another 80p, third bus ride another 80p but on the next bus ride off comes only 60p as you will have reached the cap of £3 for a one day bus pass each suceeding bus ride is free....if you then decide to use the tube, the card reverts to a pay as you go until the one day price of a one day travelcard is reach (as noted £4.40)...you don't have to make a decision and be stuck with it.. You will always get the best deal based on the time you started travelling that day and the mode of travel...should you have to venture into zone 4, for example, it will automatically cap at the price of a zone 1-4 travelcard cheaper on oyster than for cash...it is this capping that makes oyster the only way to go as far as I am concerned.

Hope the explanation is clear.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 08:34 AM
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timS and XYZ - THANK for illuminating my lack of understanding that the Oyster Card would automatically cap off with the TravelCard price - then i see it's a great deal and if just take one trip or two also great savings.
Thanks for info!
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Old May 1st, 2006, 10:57 AM
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xyz... thank you for that really good explanation of Oyster Cards. It is certainly quite confusing when you are unfamiliar with the system. I have found it the cheapest way of getting around in London.

Another bonus is rather than getting a refund you can keep the balance on the card until your next trip to London!

The only thing I haven't come across yet is what happens if there isn't enough 'credit' on the card - presumably you are not allowed on the bus until you have topped up!
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Old May 1st, 2006, 11:04 AM
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The Oyster reader in the bus honks at you or the Underground turnstile won't open.

Here is another explanation: http://tinyurl.com/nnpya
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Old May 1st, 2006, 11:14 AM
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You may well find, but I wouldn't dream of recommending that you rely on this, that the Oyster reader on a bus is not working. If the driver sees that that you're carrying an Oyster card, you're quite likely to be waved through. I'm amazed at the number of times the readers on buses aren't working in the morning rush hour.

This is virtually never true of the Tube station barriers, though.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 11:45 AM
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Thanks for the explanation. The Oyster Card sounds great. Just a few more questions to help those of us unfamiliar with the card... How and where do you purchase one? Is there a way to check the balance on the card, so you will know when you are getting low? How do you add more cash to it? What is required to get a refund on the unused portion (is it as difficult as getting back the £3 deposit)?
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Old May 1st, 2006, 11:51 AM
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1. Oyster Cards can be purchased at any Underground station or Travel Information Centre.

2. There are readers in the stations where you can see your balance and add money using a credit/debit card.

3. I've never done it, but I believe refunding unused value and deposit is quick and painless.
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Old May 1st, 2006, 12:12 PM
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Well, xyz, you've really explained several points I had never read anywhere before -- particularly the idea that you don't actually purchase a one day travelcard with oyster, it just converts to that automatically if you ride that much. This is a great point, as I can tell you more than once I've bought a one day card and ended up not getting my money's worth when we ended up walking a couple of the routes we thought we'd tube.

Further it does sound like a good deal for us, because we often avoid taking the tube for a single journey in a day when we think is it really worth 6 pounds for the two of us to go to_______? This way the decision value is cut in half, and we may find ourselves taking the tube a little more rather than worrying about arranging our days for more tube travel on days we do a travel card and avoiding travel all together on the days we don't.

 
Old May 2nd, 2006, 06:09 AM
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Also, Neopolitan, you can keep the Oyster Card for your future trips, since you go to London frequently. The deposit is a one time charge of £3. The card automatically caps at 50p less than the one day travelcard, so using the card for 6 days (that result in capping) pays for teh deposit.

For those, like us, who buy a 7 day travelcard on the Oyster, there is no £3 deposit. We will bring our cards back for our 4 day visit in August, where we will put a cash balance on it.
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 08:07 AM
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TTT

Thanks for this great explanation! It made more sense than the official brochure on the TFL site.
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