Oyster Card

Old Apr 17th, 2008, 10:03 PM
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Oyster Card

I've seen many mentions on this forum about Oyster Cards, and as I am going to London soon I thought I'd better find out what they are!

London Transport websites describe them well enough, until you get into the fine print. Then they appear to be fraught with problems - some cards working at some stations but not others, penalty charges for failure to swipe at the correct places, etc.

And then there's a debate about Travelcard vs top-up-as-you-go Oyster Cards, which is anything but clear.

Can anyone rid me of all the confusion on these matters?
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Old Apr 17th, 2008, 10:47 PM
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If you're staying in central London and only doing touristy type things, there is no confusion...the buses and underground take oyster cards and they are by far the easiest way to go...

Some of the national rail lines which go to outer London do not take oyster cards (tfl is working hard to rectify that) but it shouldn't concern you for the most part.

I don't see where any confusion comes in.....
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 01:18 AM
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we were in london 2 weeks ago and used the oyster cards in zone 1-2 with no problems. It's good because you get a refund of your 3GBP deposit at the end as well as any balance left on your card. Just go to the ticket office at your nearest tube station.
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 02:21 AM
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Thanks, I think that helps. If you google "Oyster Cards" and check out what some of the websites are saying, you'll see why I was confused. We'll mainly be travelling by tube, although might get to some outer suburbs like Enfield. Hopefully that won't be a problem?

Do you recommend getting oyster cards before leaving home, or buying them on arrival? (We'll be arriving Heathrow and taking the express into Paddington).
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 02:33 AM
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You can't use the Oystercard on the Heathrow Express, and it's quite expensive to travel on this train. If you use the tube from Heathrow, you can use an oystercard, so then it would be useful to get one in advance and have funds on it to cover your journey into London. If you really want to arrive at Paddington Station, consider using Heathrow Connect trains, which are slightly slower and cheaper. See:

http://www.heathrowconnect.com/
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 02:39 AM
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As far as I know Oyster Cards work at all underground stations, in any zone. I think you might be getting confused with 'overground' mainline train connections - there are definitely plenty of those where Oyster Cards can't be used yet.

The penalty charges apply only if you fail to touch in and out at both ends of your journey. The Oyster touch pads are (mostly) on the barriers themselves (on the top surface), wheras card tickets go into a slot on the front of the barrier. It would be pretty difficult to forget to touch in and out since reminders are boomed at you via big-brother-like tannoys at every station.

Pay as you go is miles easier than fretting about saving 20p with preloaded travelcards IMHO. (Awaits deluge of posts from people who routinely stay at 5 star hotels and happily spend £200 on a meal, but balk at the idea of overpaying LT by a few pence 8-) )
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 02:46 AM
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Not to be in the slightest disrespectful to anybody, I've never understood this fetish some peole have of getting everything in advance including local transportation cards...in 99.9% of the cases, you save no money (it may even cost you more) for what (oh I don't have to wait on a queue when I am jet lagged from a long flight).....get your oyster card on arrival...if you're tubing in from Heathrow you can ask a live human being what is best for you and as I've noted in the past, if you're from North America, there is a very good chance that at Heathrow the clerk will understand you and you will understand him or her as English is a very closely related language to American or Canadian.
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Old Apr 18th, 2008, 04:44 AM
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And to clarify
- penalty fares for not "touching in and out" only apply to the pay-as-you-go option (because it doesn't have the information it needs to do the sums)

- likewise, use at non-TfL stations is only a problem for PAYG, because the rail companies are taking their time installing the technology, but they can cope with travelcards for the relevant zones

Other complexities relate to

- how much travel you think you're likely to do and in which modes, but you won't end up paying much, if anything, more than a travelcard rate and the differences won't be enormous: it isn't actually that complicated

- whether you're travelling with children and how old there are, where there are different concessions and ID requirements for different circumstances.
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