Travel Card vs. Oyster in London

Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 12:46 PM
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Travel Card vs. Oyster in London

I am very confused.
We are a family of 5 (kids 23, 16, 12) planning to be in Lonon for 7 days. We are staying at an apartment on Grays Inn Road (near Chancery Lane tube station).
We plan on doing the usual sites in the city.
I know we have to travel once (in the evening) to Wimbeldon and back.
There are some markets we'd like to go to. I was also thinking about Kew Gardens.
Some specific questions:
1) Are all these places included in the travelcard? Are we limited to certain hours of the day?
2) Can you buy a travel card and just add the difference of the fares?
3) I understood from other questions that the Oyster is something you have to prepay and it deducts the ride amount from the total paid. Is this correct? How do I know how much to prepay?
4) I read someplace that kids under 18 pay only 1# for a tube ride. Is this correct? If yes, then it doesn't pay to get them anything in advance.

I'd appreciate any SIMPLE explanation to the system.
When we visited New York we bought a 7 day travel card and then had no worries to how much or how far we went.
Please help me clear this up. On the tansport site there are so many options that I just get lost no matter how many time I read it.


miki is offline  
Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 12:56 PM
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http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34756902
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 01:30 PM
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The simple answer to your question is that you can buy a 7 day travelcard for each family member, available at tube stations for £22 (these will come on an Oyster Card). That, however, is not the cheapest method.

Beyond that, there is no simple answer to the fares, especially when you are talking about fares for children. You can go to the tfl website: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tfl/fares-tick...06/index.shtml
The 3 adults will probably be well served with 7 day travelcards, which will be on an Oyster Card. Cost will be £22 each. We were not charged the £3 deposit because we put a travelcard on the Oyster. I think you have to pay the deposit if you put a cash balance on the Oyster and use it pay as you go.

There are special fares for 16/17's and Under 16's. Some of these deals require a photo card, and some of the photo cards may need to be obtained a month in advance (for Under 16's especially). One highlight is that Under 14's travel free on buses without a photocard.

To understand the intricacies of these (children's) fares you will most likely have to puzzle out the tfl site, or take a chance on getting help at the tube station when you are ready to purchase. I don't think I've seen anyone post here who has purchased any of the children's fares since January (when the new fare structures took effect).

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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 01:42 PM
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Here is a little more information from my research:

Kids using Oyster pay a maximum of £1 for any Tube/DLR journey within Zones 1-6 regardless of time of day or zones travelled.
Up to four children travelling with an adult with a valid Travelcard pay only £1 for an all zones Off-Peak Day Travelcard.

There is an "Ask Oyster" site that has a lot of Q's and A's:
https://transportforlondon.custhelp....er/std_alp.php

Searching that for Q's relating to children's fares is useful. Here is part of an answer to a question about a family traveling to London:

Oyster cards are now available for children under 16, which allow them to travel free on our buses. You need to apply for a Child Oyster Photocard 4 weeks in advance of your arrival in London. You will be able to collect your Child Oyster photocard from a London Travel Information Centre.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 03:57 PM
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miki...

I'm sorry but I have to agree that while the adult situation on the oyster card is pretty clear cut and not all that hard to understand, the manifestations for children are almost indecipherable...sometimes you need photocards sometimes not...sometimes you have to apply for the photocard 4 weeks in advance, sometimes they issue it on the spot...sometimes you need some sort of id to verify age sometimes they just take your word for it....

Wish I could help but the answer is somewhere in the brochure on the transport for london web site..

As far as adult fares, I usually use 5 days or more as justifying a 7 day zone 1-2 pass which is £22.20..once upon a time (like last year) they had a zone 1 only and that was a great buy and allowed me to cut the 5 days to 4 but with the capping and all that, you would probably be best served by loading an oyster card for prepaid...but do remember if you don't buy a 7 day pass, they charge a £3 deposit for the oyster card...the web site now makes it clear that if you buy a 7 day pass, there is no £3 deposit required.

Good luck.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 04:52 PM
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Thanks, xyz123 for giving the "break even" point for the 7 day travelcard. I figured at our 6 day trip length the 7 day card would be the best, but for our friends who went for 5 days I wasn't so sure. Since miki is going to be in London for 7 days, then a 7 day pass is a no-brainer, at least for the 2 parents and the 23 yr old, imo.

As two younger ones, miki, you'll have to decide if the extra aggravation is worth pursuing the special photo cards. In the scheme of things, those £££ are probably a drop in the bucket of what you will be spending on the trip. They will happily sell you a full price card for the children (if that's what you decide, and you could be on your merry way.


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Old Mar 23rd, 2006, 11:39 PM
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Thank you all.
I'll let you know what we decided to do with the kids upon our return (the end of April)
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Old Mar 24th, 2006, 01:35 AM
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It's a case of simple math...a one day travelcard with prepaid on oyster caps at £4.40..so 5 one day travelcards are £22 provided on the weekdays you start out with your first trip after 0930...

Robespierre argues that there might be some days you only use the public transport a couple of days and on those days you won't reach the £4.40 and why pay for something you aren't using and mathematically he could be correct depending on what your needs are...for example you might wish one day to do a side trip to Oxford with a London Walks and on that day your total expenditure for the day could be £1.60, two bus rides but in my way of thinking, once everything is said and done with a 5 day stay in London, the difference between a 7 day one time zone 1 & 2 pass and 5 one day passes is going to be negligible whichever way you do it so just be done with it..

Four days, now at least since there are no longer zone 1 only 7 day passes, is another matter...4 one day passes comes to £17.60 a significant savings over the 7 day pass with the bonus of course that any day you don't use the public transport system you save even more (at the same time though if you really want to count pennies, you might want to load it up each day or every 2 days and after a while, your time waiting on queues might be better served as just doing it once..also factor in the £3 deposit for the card on total prepaid which is not easy to refund.

But as noted, the concept for adults is not hard to understand....using oyster beats buying individual paper tickets or even paper one day passes every time.
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