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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.

Oyster Fare Finder (mobile friendly)

A little later than planned, I’m delighted to announce our new mobile friendly Oyster Fare Finder. The links on this site have been updated to use it within the site, but you can also access it directly at https://oysterfares.com/off/. The functionality is very similar to the old version, but on the first screen you now choose which type of Oyster card you want to see fares for. At the top of the results page there is a new button for “amend” so you can check a different card type or just change one of the stations.

The major difference between this and the TfL version is that we still display the zonal coverage of the fares. This can be useful when working out what the default route is likely to be, but also clarifies which zones are required on a travelcard to make the journey, or which daily cap might apply. There are some cases where the default route doesn’t necessarily use the expected zones. Examples include Finsbury Park to Hackney Downs and Mottingham to Woolwich Arsenal.

The old version showing all the fares for each card type is still available on the fares guide page, in the menu on the right hand side.

Happy 15th Birthday Oyster

Today is 15 years since Oyster was first launched on London buses and the Underground, 30th June 2003. In the early days it was just for single journeys with no daily capping.

Watch out for a celebratory launch of our new fare finder tool later this weekend.

Gatwick Express fares suspended

As part of the resolution to the well publicised difficulties with the Thameslink operation, GTR have suspended all restrictions on use of tickets by brand. The cheapest Southern, Thameslink, Not Gatwick Express or Any Permitted ticket is valid for any journey, subject to time restrictions for off-peak tickets. This is expected to last until the end of August.

This only affects Oyster and contactless users at Victoria where no-one should be expected to touch in or out at the platform 13/14 gates. Instead passengers should be directed through a side gate to use adjacent platform gates.

May 2018 Fares Revision

Well, not so much a revision (to actual fares), but there will be hundreds of new journeys available to and from Heathrow NR from Sunday 20th May 2018.  That is when the Heathrow Connect operation is transferred to TfL-Rail.  As already mentioned, Heathrow NR will be in zone 6, but single fares to and from the airport will carry a premium.  Oyster and Contactless will NOT be available on Heathrow Express until later in the year.

The premium fares mean that I’ll be adding another column to the fares guide pages. Although the new fares were publicised in a press release in March, there was no mention of fares to West London destinations in zones 3-6 via Ealing Broadway. Watch this space in the early part of next week.

Read the rest of this entry »

Elizabeth Line Fares Announced

Yesterday TfL released details of the fares to be charged on the Elizabeth Line when it starts operating at the end of this year.  They also confirmed fares for the second TfL Rail line from May 20th between Paddington and Heathrow.  This will become part of the Elizabeth line later on.

The big news is that Heathrow (TfL Rail) will be joining Heathrow (LU) in zone 6.  This means that travelcards will be valid as will all other TfL concessions (zip cards, freedom passes, etc).  The downside is that there will still be a premium to be paid for single fares to/from Heathrow (TfL Rail), but Oyster and contactless capping at the zone 6 level will limit the effect on return journeys and indeed on other travel within the zones that day once in London.

As for the rest of the line, fares in the central area will be the same as normal Underground fares.  This will extend westwards as far as Hayes & Harlington and West Drayton.  To the east Whitechapel and Canary Wharf are mentioned as being standard LU fares, but the press release is silent on further out.  Currently the fares to Harold Wood are the same in the peak but a bit more expensive off-peak.  It remains to be seen what fares will apply to/from Woolwich and Abbey Wood.

I’ll add more details on the actual fares in the coming weeks.

Unlimited Hopper Bus/Tram Fare

True to TfLs new year promise that the unlimited hopper fare would be introduced this month, it has indeed gone live today.  You can now make as many bus or tram journeys as you like within an hour and only be charged one fare of £1.50.  I’m already aware of one person (Geoff Marshall) who has made 25 journeys up and down one road, so it definitely works.

At the same time you can now also make a rail/tube/dlr journey in the middle, so bus to station, train to town, bus to the office will only cost £1.50 plus the rail fare Read the rest of this entry »

Updated Latest Comments

The latest comments block on the left has had a bit of a makeover.  My replies are again hidden so you get the last 20 questions asked.  The link in the header now takes you directly to the full comment so you can also see replies.

Brentwood off-peak fare anomaly

An eagle eyed visitor has noticed that there’s an anomaly with off-peak fares from Brentwood (Z9) to Zone 1. The off-peak single fare for Brentwood to either Liverpool Street NR or LU is £5.50 but to any other Zone 1 LU station it is £5.40. This also includes passing through zone 1 and escaping the other side.

With Oyster you need to note that if you exit at Liverpool Street NR and then go down to the Underground you will be overcharged because the Oyster system won’t refund a fare once charged. To avoid this, consider changing at Stratford onto the Central or Jubilee lines. Contactless will work properly, as will return journeys to Brentwood.

If you want Liverpool Street itself then consider either Aldgate or Moorgate as alternative nearby stations.

2018 Fares

The observant among you will have noticed a series of new pages appearing on the Fares Guide over the last week or so. Today the final link has appeared which provides access to 2018 fares in the Oyster Fare Finder.

You can find this special version here.

Online Topup – Collect on Buses

TfL has turned on the ability to collect online orders (top-ups and travelcards) on buses. At the moment it is in a test phase which means that it may not work if an issue is encountered.

Testing began on 1st September but had to be halted a few days later as there were some significant issues. It was restarted on 2nd October and so far there have been no problems. I’m aware of several people who have picked up top-ups on buses in the last week, including my son. If all goes well it is hoped to launch it properly at the end of this year.

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