London Tube

Feb 7th, 2004, 09:55 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 17
London Tube

My friends and I are going to London in March and we are trying to understand the best way to get around. Obviously it's by tube (having been there in the past, and being a native New Yorker that's not the concern), but we're trying to figure out proceedurally how we pay. I looked at the tube web site and I read about Oyster but don't quite understand it, is it like the NYC Metrocard? Is this Oyster pass something that you can get at a station? Do you need to bring a photo like you used to to put on the card? How much is an unlimited ride card for 4 days in zones 1 and 2? If Oyster isn't what we need, what kind of pass can we get?
Thanks a bunch!
embily123 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 10:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,050
Forget about Oyster, it's a pass that's re-fillable, handy for Londoners but not what you want.

Your best bet is a 7-day travelcard, which you can buy at any tube station after you arrive in London. This card works exactly like NYC's Metrocard, unlmited bus and tube rides. EXCEPT that London's system has 6 Zones, set up like a bullseye with most tourist attractoins and hotels in the center, in Zone 1. A few places like the zoo and Greenwich are in Zone 2. So your best bet is a Zone 1 7-day pass, which costs about £16; zone 1 & 2 is about £19.

Because of the zones, you have to also run the travelcard thru the tube turnstyle card-reader as you exit. (Like in Washington DC)

You can also get visitors travelcards in advance, but you won't save any money.

No photo ID is needed for visitors travelcards, nor for regular travelcards for just zones 1 & 2.

Here are the two sites most useful for you; the weekly travelcrds are under the "seasons" link.

Regular travelcards:

Visitors trvelcards:
Anonymous is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 17
Thank you very much for the info. That's what I did a few years ago, but I thought the system might have changed. If I recall correctly, we needed to bring a passport size photo to put on the travelcard, is this no longer the case?
embily123 is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,295
The system has changed a bit in the last year. You defintely do not need a photo for an Adult 7 Day Travel Card travelling in Zone 1, Zone 2 or Zones 1&2. However since you all are going to be there for 4 days, a 7 day card might not be the most cost efficient choice (20.20 GBP).

If you are interested in figuring your least cost option, you'll need to do some calculations and look at the calendar.

1. If your 4 days includes a weekend, I'd purchase a Weekend Travelcard (6.40 GBP for both days, no time restrictions) and two Daily Travel Cards (5.30 GBP no time restrictions or 4.30 GBP after 9:30 am) Prices are for Zones 1&2 travel.

2. If you trip is all weekdays, you can purchase Daily Travel Cards. Cost for Zones 1&2 will be 21.2 GBP or 17.2 GBP (travel after 9:30 am)

3. There is a VISITOR Travelcard which you must purchase in advance from your home country. 16.20 GBP. Details are available here:

If you are now wondering how something could be so darned complicated you are certainly not alone. The cost differentials for all these options aren't huge but at least you'll be an informed purchaser.

Good luck and have a great trip!
obxgirl is online now  
Feb 7th, 2004, 01:37 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 6,523
I just returned from London this week, and, yes, there have been changes...for the good.
We bought a 7 day travelcard for Zone 1. Most tourist spots are within zone 1. You no longer need a photo. But the great change (just started in Jan..even the tourist board didn't know about it) is that with a zone 1 travel card, you are able to go on the tube in zone 1 only, BUT can go on ANY London bus in ANY zone. so, for sure this was the best bet for us. We took the bus to different zones and saw neighbourhoods we hadn't seen before. One day took the buses out to Hamsptead. SO it's a great deal. Wait til you get there to get it (at the tube station) and don't confuse it with the visitors card which is only available before you get there.
HOWEVER, because you'll only be there four days, you'll have to compare the cost to the daily passes (keep in mind the daily passes are only good after the morning rush hour.) We paid 17 or 19 pounds .
Have fun.
kodi is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 01:47 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 9,050
Daily passes are available before 9:30 AM, but they cost more. As obxgirl's post detailed, you can save a few pounds by going to the trouble of buying daily passes after 9:30 or weekend passes.

The requirement for the passport-sized photo still stands for 7-day travelcards for travel beyond zones 1 & 2.
Anonymous is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 184
We're traveling to London sometime in April and I checked out the sites related to the travelcards. While adults no longer need a photo, it appears that a 13 year will still need one. Am I interpreting this accurately? I downloaded the "photocard application form" so to facilitate matters.
Nena is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 04:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 219
Interesting article in the new New Yorker about the enormous problems the Tube has and how an unlikely alliance between a former CIA "can-do" Yank and a socialist mayor of London is remaking and saving the Tube. Check soon and it will be on the New Yorker's web site.
Yawn_boring is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 06:31 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 704
One problem with the Travelcard. No matter how far in advance you purchase your Visitor Travelcards they will be despatched to arrive within 7-10 days of their start date. They are unable to deliver your tickets to you if you are leaving home earlier than this date.

Garfield is offline  
Feb 7th, 2004, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,295
Nena, You're correct. Your 13 year old will still need a photo to get the travelcard. The no photo stipulation applies only to adults getting 7 Day Zone 1&2 passes. But the photo requirement isn't a big deal. Cut a head shot out of a regular photo. 1.5" X 1.5" should be plenty big enough.

I also meant to mention that there is work being done on the tube rails between Heathrow and (I think) Action Town certain weekends in Feb, Mar and April which will impact people taking the Piccadilly line to and from LHR. Bus service is being provided but it will lengthen the trip. Check the tube website for full details.
obxgirl is online now  
Feb 8th, 2004, 12:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 640
....FYI: NO photos are required for the VISITORS Travelcard...regardless of age.

And, yes, the question of passes, tickets, etc. is more than confusing!
KidsToLondon is offline  

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