How much is a single fare? Try our Oyster Fare Finder


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.

Gatwick Capping Changes

As if the inconsistencies with pricing along the line between Merstham and Gatwick Airport weren’t already bad enough, it looks like TfL have completely ripped up the rule book with regard to contactless capping once you venture south from zone 6 at Coulsdon South. This means that since May 16th some part-time commuters have seen their daily fares rise by 27%, without any warning at all. Read the rest of this entry »

Authorised User CPC cards

I’d actually forgotten about this issue until I recently came across mention on the TfL site explaining that you can link authorised user cards to an online account.  Originally there was a problem where the name on the card did not match the name that the bank statements were sent to.  I had tried to explain the problem to both TfL and my bank, but neither seemed to understand what was wrong.

However, I can now report that my wife has successfully added her payment card to her own account, even though the card is linked to my card account.  Now I need to dig out my paytag and find out if they’ve fixed the issues with that too.  Watch this space.

Zonal fares will be simplified

Yes, this was a lame attempt at an April Fool.

So, last night I spent an hour or so in The Albert pub on Victoria Street. While I was there I was joined by a press officer from TfL, whose headquarters are next door.  The conversation inevitably drifted towards the incredibly complex fare structure in the zonal area and what might be done about it.  I have to say I was quite stunned by what I learnt. Read the rest of this entry »

Oyster at Swanley

Swanley will accept Oyster and contactless from Wednesday 9th March 2016.  Like Dartford it will be in zone 8 and use the fare scale.  I have added Swanley to the Oyster Fare Finder.

Oyster’s Zones Are Full

I’ve been doing quite a bit of research in an attempt to fully understand the fares for the Gatwick extension of the Oyster system.  The results are nearly ready for publication, but in the meantime I have come to the conclusion that the current Oyster system is full.  What do I mean by this?

Read the rest of this entry »

New Oyster Fare Finder

I am delighted to be able to launch an alternative to the TfL Single Fare Finder. It is linked at the top of the Fares Guide page, or you can access it here.

Like the TfL version you enter two stations, but that’s where the similarity ends. The results page contains all the different fares (Adult, 11-15, 16-18, Disabled Railcard and Other Railcards). At the top of the results page is a button to simply reverse the enquiry so you can check any differences in peak times.

The fares data is provided directly by TfL Open Data so is the same as that found on their single fare finder. The list of stations has been sanitised so that multiple entries for the same station are eliminated. No distinction is made between National Rail, London Overground and TfL Rail – they are all NR.

The 32% cap increase

So I received a call from TfL today which confirmed my fears about the part-time worker refunds for zones 4-6 for railcard holders.  They have been abolished.  This means that young (under 26) and disabled workers using zone 6 who last year enjoyed a cap of £5.90 if all their travel was after 0930 now have to pay up to £7.80 per day.  That’s over 32% higher.  I wonder what the constituents of Uxbridge would make of this?

Zone 4 increases from £5.30 to £6.15 (16%) while zone 5 is £5.90 to £7.25 (23%).

Most Expensive Oyster Journey?

You might be thinking something like Amersham to Shenfield which is £11.00 in the peak time, or perhaps you’ve remembered that Gatwick Express now uses Oyster and charges £19.80 single.  They’re both good guesses and neither can be beaten with a single paper ticket, but the Gatwick Express one is more expensive than paper if you make a return.

However, say you’re in Stratford and want to see a friend off from the airport.  You go to Westfield for some last minute supplies and then want to travel.  One of the ways you can do this is to take Southeastern High Speed to St Pancras then Victoria line to Victoria and finally Gatwick Express.  Journey time is about 1 hour and avoids the slow Thameslink crawl through south London thanks to the London Bridge rebuilding.  Once you’ve seen your friend off you want to come back to Stratford.  How much will this cost?

Stratford Int’l to St Pancras Int’l £3.80 (off-peak)
Kings Cross St Pancras to Victoria £2.40
Victoria to Gatwick using the Express £19.80
Total one way: £26.00, both ways £52.00 assuming off-peak on HS1

or Stratford Int’l to Gatwick Airport off-peak day return £23.30

So that makes Oyster 123% more expensive.

Oyster at Gatwick

Today marks the start of the latest Oyster extension to Gatwick Airport. While there are people who will benefit, this is the most complicated extension yet, and great care will need to be taken to ensure that you aren’t overcharged.  I’ve been shown an internal briefing for Southern and Thameslink staff and some of the details of the implimentation are going to cause lots of problems. Read the rest of this entry »

Part-time workers in 4-6 clobbered

When the details for the January fares increases were published there was a lot of coverage about the average increase being about 1%.  Obviously with the need to keep adult fares rounded to the nearest 10p there were always going to be some increases above that, with the zone 1 single rising 4.3% being the most notable.  The fact that most other TfL single fares didn’t rise kept the average down.

There was, however, one aspect of the fares package that TfL kept very quiet about.  Remember last spring when the abolition of off-peak caps in zones 1-6 was found to adversely affect people regularly travelling from zones 4-6?  The response then was to re-introduce the previous off-peak caps (with a slight increase of course) and apply them to regular travellers*.  Well, guess what? The reason TfL failed to mention the rises for these caps is because they are massive.  £8.00 (zone 1-4) becomes £8.60, a 7.5% increase while £8.80 (zone 1-6) becomes £9.40, a 6.8% increase.  Ouch!  What’s worse is that many of the people relying on these refunds won’t actually realise that they’ve been cut until the first week of 2016 is processed, possibly next week or the week after.

There is also no mention of these caps for railcard discounted users so it’s not clear whether it’s been abolished already for them.  What is clear is that they intend to get rid of the feature for everyone in as short a time as possible.

* Regular travellers are defined as those exceeding the off-peak caps on 2 days in any week, 4 days in any fortnight, or 8 days in any 4 week period.  In each case a week is from Monday to Sunday.

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