Oyster or Travel Pass, London Pass

Feb 18th, 2006, 09:20 PM
  #1  
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Oyster or Travel Pass, London Pass

We will be spending 3 days in London and I'm confused. Should we get a Travelcard or the Oyster card? What abbout the London Pass? Is it really worth getting?
clucchesi is offline  
Feb 18th, 2006, 10:16 PM
  #2  
 
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First the easy part - the London Pass is rarely a bargain for the vast majority of visitors. Especially on a short visit, since most of the museums and galleries are free and in three days you won't get to enough of the "for pay" sites for the LP to make any sense.

Now for transit - what used to be fairly simple fare structure has become pretty complicated. Check the TFL website - they have a pdf file that explains all of the options. But they make it clear as mud if you ask me. What days of th eweek will you be there. Weekends are different than weekdays. And if you use buses instead of the tube your pass will cost less. (I actually prefer the tube but there are several London bus experts who post regularly)

Some of the London contingent will be on board soon and can probably give you the best advice.
janisj is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 01:49 AM
  #3  
 
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Could you share a little more of your itinerary, or simply what places you intend to see?

A bus ticket is 1.50GBP as far as I am aware, so I can't see why you want a travelcard or Oyster. An Oyster card is something someone who is here permanently (or as good as) will use. My point is that you won't be using that much public transport in three days. You can easily get away with perhaps just two bus journeys a day, which would make a travelcard pointless. Also, try to avoid to take the tube/bus from place to place. You'll find that if you walk (and I assume you're physically able to do so) you will find many places enroute that you'd have missed.

Where are you staying? If you're an hundred miles from the centre then I'd suggest you consider changing your hotel. I hope you're not in South Ken or Kensington, not that these aren't pleasant areas, but they're skewed to the West, making walking far more difficult.
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 01:50 AM
  #4  
 
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And I'd just like to add...

You're here for three days so if you spent 50GBP on taxis over that period, it wouldn't be such an extravagance. I'd recommend taking them late at night etc. Far more convenient, and far more pleasant than public transport.
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 02:25 AM
  #5  
 
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MK2's reply shows why you shouldn't rely on Londoners' advice. We all have our own quirks in travelling, and none of them are likely to be the same as yours. And why the TfL ratecard is so complicated: it tries to cope with 10 million or so individualists.

Personally, I'd get an Oystercard: £3 deposit, £20 prepaid, you can do all the travelling you want within Z1 and 2 over 3 days and you'll end up with about £6 credit to use next time you're here. To me, its slickness at tube gates while everyone else is fumbling with their paper tickets would be well worth the interest free loan.

But then most visitors, from the way they amble around, seem to think they're here on holiday or something, and don't share our intense irritation at wasting 0.5 seconds.

Truth is, it's impossible to predict how you're going to spend your days. Since using your time well is likely to be a great deal more important than getting precisely the optimal financial package, I'd say the choice really comes down to:
- getting a bus pass. But navigating the buses, while arguably fun, is trickier than the tube and can be very slow for some typical tourist journeys (like a South Ken hotel to the Tower). This may well stop you from squeezing everything you want to do into your time.
- getting a 3-day Z1/2 travel pass. This is pricier, but lets you choose how you're going to travel, and gives you flexibility. If you spend longer than planned at attraction A, you can take the most efficient route to get attraction B in before it closes.

Whatever you do, don't try to find the perfect solution. The quest for perfection - in this as in anything - isn't just pointless.

It's far worse than that: it's utterly unEnglish.
CotswoldScouser is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 02:35 AM
  #6  
 
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bus stops are not announced on the london bus system so unless you know the london, the tube is a better option for visitors. tourists had a better time with the old routemasters as they were often able to get the fare man to warn them of stops (although not their job). i see many now trying to get the driver to do that but this is much more difficult and not a good solution.

BTW, i prefer the bus.
walkinaround is online now  
Feb 19th, 2006, 02:49 AM
  #7  
 
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Even when I'm abroad, I will never ever use buses or trains to travel around the city itself. I walk everywhere or take the occasional taxi.

I don't see why you want to spend so much time underground.
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 06:21 AM
  #8  
 
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"I don't see why you want to spend so much time underground."

Because w/ just 3 days, and wanting to see many of the wonderful sites in London in that time frame - it is simply not possible on foot.

m_kingdom2 - your advice is just not practical for the typical visitor. You live in London. If you want to go to the V&A - but it is too awful out to walk - well hey, it will still be there next week. Tourists don't have that luxury.

London is a great walking city - but it is too spread out to hit more than a handful of sites on foot - no matter where you start from.
janisj is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 08:06 AM
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Add my vote to the Transport for London tally (my guess is that mk2 doesn't use the Tube for fear of encountering London's Mayor Livingstone - known as "Red Ken" for his leftist leanings - who commutes regularly by Underground).

London is just too spread out to walk from most places to most others. It takes an hour to walk from Trafalgar Square to the Tower, or an hour and a half from Kensington to the British Museum.

We use buses for everything except cross-town jaunts, and find that in most cases they're as fast as the Tube, typically easier, and always far more scenic. At £3.50 a day, a bus pass is a steal.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 08:50 AM
  #10  
 
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Just back from London -- here's the scoop:
1. Oyster cards can be bought and used by tourists. You line up at the help booth at any Tube station, fill in an application, and get your card.
2. You pay a 3 pound deposit, refundable on return of the card.
3. The principle of the card is to load it with money, from which the cost of each trip is deducted from your balance whether on the tube or a bus.
4. The cost for a trip on the tube, paid in cash is 3 pounds. The cost deducted from your Oyster card for the same trip is 1.5 pounds.
5. You can "pay as you go" -- which means that you load your card with the amount of trips that you want at any automatic ticket dispensor. You can punch in that you have an Oyster card, and want to buy 5 trips, whereupon you pay the appropriate money and your card is charged with that amount. When you get on the Tube or a bus, you swipe your card, and the cost of the trip is deducted automatically from your balance. When you run out, you can recharge the card.
6. An alternative is a tube day pass for 4.90 pounds, but you can only use this after 9.30 am. This might not be too tragic, as the opening hours of what you want to see may be after 9.30 am anyways. You can buy these at any automatic ticket dispensor in any Tube station.
7. A daily bus pass is a good idea IF you want to see the city. If you want to get from point A to point B STAT, the tube is your best option.
Hope this helps! Have fun!
nospam is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 09:11 AM
  #11  
 
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"IF you want to see the city. If you want to get from point A to point B STAT, the tube is your best option."

It depends on where A and B are.

To begin with, some Underground stations are so close together that it's actually faster and easier to walk from A to B than go down in the ground (sometimes walking from one line to another) and back up again. This is where visitors would do well to refer to a geographical map rather than relying on the TfL schematic. One such can be found at

http://origin.tfl.gov.uk/buses/pdfdocs/centlond.pdf

The next category is those that are a five- to ten-minute bus ride. In our experience, by the time you get to the Tube Station, go down [go across if changing lines] and go up again, the bus beats the train almost every time. (Oxford Street at 5PM excepted).

Only if you're going halfway across town does the Tube win.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 09:57 AM
  #12  
 
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I'll be spending 7 days in London so I've been thinking about getting the Oyster Card with a 7 day travel card on it. We'll be based "way out" in Maida Vale so we'll be waiting to walk until we're closer in. We don't mind paying a bit more for the flexiblilty of being able to use the bus or tube as needed with the same card. Does that seem like the best option for us?
arindasue is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 10:03 AM
  #13  
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There will be 3 of us and have not finalized our hotel yet but it will be in the Paddington area or close to that area. We are going to try and see as much as we can in those 3 days probably eliminating museums & going for the rest, Tower, castles, churches, etc. We were in London over 18 years ago and I'm sure things have changed since then. We just went to the tube, paid and not a problem. This will be a first trip for our 22 year old granddaughter so we want her to see as much as possible. This will be the last leg of our trip which includes almost 3 weeks in Italy.
clucchesi is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 10:07 AM
  #14  
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Forgot! We will be there Sat, Sun & Mon.
clucchesi is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 10:18 AM
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Why do you want to be based in Paddington? If you were based in W1 that would eliminate the need to travel at night to eat or to go to bars to go to theatres, nightclubs, etc. etc. etc.

If you plan your days with some consideration you can avoid having to make more than two journeys i.e. just a return.

You can still just go to the tube and pay - buy singles. This is much more expensive though or so I believe from reading the papers. I never ever use the tube, and if there are three of you and you're just there for three days, a taxi isn't going to bankrupt you.

If you're going from Paddington to say the Thames then that's twenty pounds, for three people it isn't so bad for the convenience. That's why I only use taxis when I'm abroad, and also at home if I'm not driving.

Could you tell us what you plan to visit so perhaps we'll have a better idea of your travel requirements?
m_kingdom2 is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 10:42 AM
  #16  
 
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If you don't care how much your transport costs, by all means take cabs everywhere.

Otherwise, get one 3-day Travelcard (paper, not Oyster) or a 1-day bus pass for each day you don't want to walk everywhere.

Here's a bus map of services at Paddington:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/buses/spiders/pdf/paddington.pdf
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 12:31 PM
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clucchesi: Since you haven't yet booked you hotel - I'd suggest you look in some other areas. Paddington isn't terrible -- but it isn't all that nice and it is a fairly long way from any major sites except for Hyde Park.

South Kensington, Victoria, Covent Garden, Russell Square would all be more convenient and w/ hotels in all price ranges.

arindasue: "Way out in Maida Vale" isn't all that far out - it is in zone 2 so you really don't have walk closer in to catch the tube. And for buses it doesn't even matter which zone you are in.
janisj is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 01:49 PM
  #18  
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We are not married to Paddington area. Travel agent suggested Nayland Hotel there. Another post here said Kensington and S. Kensington was way out West. I don't remember any of the areas from my previous trip. Again we plan to see the main tourist places. St Patricks, Tower, Westminster Abby, the castles that are open to the public and Buckingham Palace.
clucchesi is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 01:50 PM
  #19  
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Whoops, an error. St Paul's Cathedral.
clucchesi is offline  
Feb 19th, 2006, 03:30 PM
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And those are the attractions that are perhaps better suited to a Westminster SW1 location.

South Ken is charming, but it's a residential area only suited to the V&A and Nat. Hist. Mus. and that is about it. You'd struggle to walk anywhere else from there.

If you stay in W1 or SW1 you should be able to reach those places easily.

Also, I'd advise against using a travel agent. These days you have the internet and can seek out truly unbiased opinions and then book online at "good" rates. So unless you want to pay his commission or he's a friend get rid of him.
m_kingdom2 is offline  

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