Sorry! Forum has had to close. New one coming soon.

Welcome

January 2nd 2010 was the day that Oyster became accepted on almost all National Rail services in Greater London, making cashless pay-as-you-go a reality London-wide.  It should now be really simple, but in reality it is about as complicated as it could possibly be. There are three different fares structures depending on whether your route accepted Oyster before November 2009 or not, and if not whether your journey mixes National Rail and TfL rail and includes zone 1; while children sometimes travel free and sometimes have to pay.

This site has been set up to try and explain how the system works in an alternative fashion to the official TfL site.  It also exposes the alternative approach that families can take where Oyster is not the cheapest option. Plus I will highlight areas where the system is not working and list improvements that I feel need to be made.

The pages listed in the left sidebar allow you to navigate through the main information areas of the site.  Below this introduction is a latest news blog, which includes my own personal diary of experiences using Oyster cards with my family.  Please feel free to add comments to both blog posts and pages, especially if you spot something you think might be wrong.

Contactless is here

From today, anyone can use a contactless payment card instead of a normal adult Oyster. It charges the same as Oyster and introduces Monday to Sunday capping as well as daily capping. If you choose to register the card on the TfL website you will get access to journey history for a whole year and the ability to request adjustments online. It should be noted that adjustments are less likely to be needed though, because the system processes all touches at the end of the day and can make educated decisions to correct many inconsistencies.

Southwark and Blackfriars

On Saturday afternoon I went walking around the City in search of book benches with my son.  When we had finished we made our way to the north bank entrance to Blackfriars and only then did we realise that FCC trains weren’t serving London Bridge this weekend.  The advertised diversion via Elephant and Castle seemed a bit of a detour so we decided to walk a bit more by crossing the river through Blackfriars, along to Southwark and through there to Waterloo East.  This gave me a chance to check out a report that walking through Southwark is always free.

Read the rest of this entry »

Problems with Forum

Unfortunately the site forum has developed a problem (the database is corrupted and inconsistent) and it looks like it will need to be re-started from scratch.  If you have posted questions recently then I’m sorry but they won’t be able to be shown or answered.

The integration of the forum into the main site also did not really work as planned, or might have done if I could have spent more hours than I have, so with the current issue I have decided to start again with different forum software.  I’ll have more news once it is set up, hopefully in a week or so.

National Rail will take contactless

TfL have now confirmed that agreements are in place for contactless payments to be accepted on National Rail services wherever Oyster is available.

Contactless – Good news and bad

Today has seen good news on the use of contactless payment cards on buses, but confirmation of extremely bad news for the use on trains. Read the rest of this entry »

Interchanges and Maps

A recent project for this site has involved walking between each pair of stations in OSIs and generating Google maps so people can see what is involved.  The full list of OSIs can now be found on it’s own page while the general explanation has been re-written from scratch and renamed Interchanging Trains.  In the list each entry with a map shows the distance in miles between the stations and that is a link to the map page.  The map page lists just the entries applicable to that map (usually two) along with a Google map.  The recommended route is shown with blue dots while Google tries to be helpful by adding one or more alternatives as grey lines.  There are no maps where the two stations are linked by one concourse or are so close together as to make a map pointless.

For the statisticians out there, most OSIs are half a mile or less so should be walkable in under 10 minutes.  The longest one is between Paddington and Marylebone NR stations at 0.8miles.  Others over half a mile include the Bromley stations, Emabankment to Waterloo East, Euston to Kings Cross or St Pancras, and Ickenham to West Ruislip.  Although not mapped, the shortest one is undoubtedly Southwark to Waterloo East which is about 20 yards.

Boris moves a zone boundary

I’m seeing conflicting reports that Boris is planning to move Stratford into zone 2 in January 2016 as part of the Olympic Legacy.  The BBC are suggesting that it will move from zone 3 to zone 2, while ITV think the more logical idea would be to run the zone 2/3 boundary through Stratford High Street, Stratford Regional and Stratford International.  Personally I’d say the boundary shift along the DLR seems more likely as that would not involve putting up any fares.  It’s likely to cost TfL £7million a year.

Is it too much to hope that by January 2016 the High Speed line will accept travelcards and Oyster?

Contactless is coming to Rail

This morning I attended a briefing at TfL about the soon to be launched contactless payments on rail services.  Sadly TfL wouldn’t commit to an actual date, but late summer/early autumn seems likely.  At the same time as the rail system goes live, the existing bus facility will be merged with it, offering full capping for all rail and bus journeys, including the new Monday to Sunday weekly capping.

I’ll need some time to document all I’ve learnt about the new system, but for now I can confirm that everything mentioned in my pilot diaries is accurate.  Although I haven’t yet managed to test out weekly capping, I’m informed that the final charge made will be worked out using a complex algorithm to ensure a best price is paid.  Put simply, if your regular commute is extended with the odd out of zone journey these will still be charged as extensions as they are now with Oyster.  The added benefits mean that if you make a lot of unusual journeys the system will work out if a different travelcard cap would be cheaper, and of course if you fall ill and don’t travel enough you won’t be charged for the full travelcard.

Finally, despite what some would say, Oyster definitely has a future.  It will be needed for all the youngsters who aren’t old enough for bank cards, for starters.  What is likely is that it will change from the card holding your balance to a similar system as contactless where the balance is held centrally and journeys are worked out in the back office.

Contactless Pilot (June)

My participation in the contactless pilot has been severely hampered since the end of May. First my bank decided to issue new cards which meant that I had to go through the process of registering a new card number for the pilot. Then I managed to lose the other card linked to the same account so they had to cancel everything again, even though I still had the card I was using for contactless travel. Interestingly though, when TfL came to charge the amount for travel that day, Read the rest of this entry »

Cashless Buses

While I’ve been sampling the delights of the Paris transport system over the weekend, TfL have removed the ability to pay using cash on their buses. You can use Oyster, of course, or contactless payment cards (CPC), or a paper travelcard. The only thing to note is that at present a CPC will overcharge you if you make four or more bus journeys in one day. Proper capping will be introduced later this year, along with the ability to use CPCs on rail services.

The other concession that has been introduced recently is the concept of one more journey. If your Oyster card has run out of credit you can make one more bus journey before you need to top up. This is to avoid stranding passengers making late night journeys when most ticket stops are closed.

« Older Entries