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Olympic Ambassador Travelcards

This post has largely been superceeded by this revised version.

I’ve had a couple of questions about these Oyster cards which are being supplied to volunteers who are helping visitors to London and the games during the Olympics.  As far as I can tell they are simply a travelcard covering zones 1-6 for the duration of the work as an ambassador.  There may well be special arrangements for people working at airports outside zones 1-6, but this post attempts to answer questions about the standard scenario where the work is in Central London or a games venue within zones 1-6.

If you also live within zones 1-6, or will be driving to a station within zones 1-6, then they will basically give you free travel on all rail, tube, dlr, buses and trams within the zones.  They work just like any adult Oyster card with a travelcard loaded on it.  Although you are supposed to touch in and out at each end of every rail journey, there is no penalty for not doing so within your zones.  So if the station is un-gated or the gates are open you are allowed to walk through without touching the card.  You must always touch in on a bus because the driver needs to know you have a valid travelcard on your Oyster.

The questions are arising where people live outside zones 1-6.  These are some of the things to bear in mind:

  • You also get free bus travel on some TfL-operated routes outside the zones, for example the 96, 428 and 492 buses are all included all the way out to Bluewater.
  • These Oyster cards are special limited use cards which will not allow PAYG credit to be added.  This means that they cannot be used on rail services in zones 7-9, Watford Junction or the Grays group of stations.  You will need to buy paper tickets to get to zone 6 as per the next point.
  • If you wish to travel from outside the whole Oyster area then you will need a paper ticket to get to zone 6.  If your paper ticket is also a season ticket (valid for 7 days or more) then the train MUST call at the station where you switch from using the paper ticket to the travelcard on Oyster.  This may restrict the choice of trains somewhat, so you might make a trade-off between using the first station in zone 6 (eg Harold Wood) and one slightly further in (eg Romford) where more trains stop.  However, if your paper ticket is a day ticket (either off-peak or anytime) then there is no requirement for the train to stop where the tickets change over.
  • Whether you use a season (so the train has to stop) or a day ticket, there is no need to get off the train to touch in or out.  This is because you are only using the Oyster within the zones covered so there is no penalty for not touching at either or both ends of the journey.

I hope this helps answer any questions you may have, but please do not hesitate to post a comment if there is anything else you want to know.

I’m quite surprised to learn that these cards will be hotlisted after the games so that they will no longer work.  I can’t quite understand the rationale behind this as it seems like a terrible waste of RFID technology.  Perhaps the fact that these cards will not have a deposit attached to them makes the potential for losses after the event too great.

6 Responses

  1. Hi

    There is a brief about the new London 2012 Gamesmaker Travelcards. You are not (officially) allowed to add anything else to the card including PAYG credit, so please update your post.
    Also the cards WILL BE hotlisted (code 30) after the Olympics has finished.

  2. Thanks for that note. I’ve updated the post as requested.

  3. GamesMakers (volunteers based at Olympic stadiums) are mainly being given Travelcards but it seems some will get PAYG credit.

    ALL London Ambassadors (volunteers based around London during the Olympics) are now being giving PAYG credit on Oyster Cards instead. The credit will expire on September 10th 2012. It would be helpful if you could update your post to differentiate between the two!

  4. Thanks JaJaWa,

    I’m going to try to get an official update from someone first. I searched various internet sites and forums to find out what was happening, but it seems as though things are changing under my feet, so to speak. If you live and/or travel wholly within zones 1-6 then it doesn’t make a lot of difference, but if you are journeying in from outside it does change what you have to do.

  5. The question which isn’t covered is what the position is for someone who has one of these cards, and an ‘ordinary’ Oystercard.

    It all seems rather silly that some Oyster cards and ‘products’ (i.e. things on Oyster giving validity to travel) are so totally segregated from ordinary ones.

  6. Hi Jeremy,

    I agree, it’s not been well thought through. Whilst providing free travel for volunteers is obviously a good thing, the hassles that exist when those volunteers live outside the Oyster area are frustrating. Perhaps the organisers should have provided a way of subsidising the cost of out-boundary travelcards to avoid the need to take slow trains and/or change.

    I guess if you already have an Oystercard then you put it away for the duration of your work.

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