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Capping Examples

On this page I try to explain the art of fare capping using real examples.  Unless otherwise stated they are for full adult fares using Oyster.

Multiple buses in one day

TimeFromToFareTotalNotes
08:58Bus 96£1.50£1.50
09:20Bus 229£0.00£1.50Hopper fare
10:30Bus 51£1.50£3.00
12:44Bus 469£1.50£4.50
16:47Bus 428£0.00£4.50Daily bus cap reached

Commute using National Rail and Underground

Note how even a simple return journey can sometimes be limited by caps.
TimeFromToFareTotalNotes
08:00Crayford (6)Oxford Circus (1)£8.20£8.20
17:00Oxford Circus (1)Crayford (6)£4.60£12.80Zone 1-6 daily cap reached

Morning Peak journey with Off-peak cap reached

The first journey is during the morning peak and the day involves travel outside zones 1-6 so there is a cheaper off-peak cap available. Note that the anytime cap is not reached.
TimeFromToFareTotalNotes
09:10Bus 96£1.50£1.50
09:35Crayford (6)London Bridge (1)£4.10£5.60
12:15London Bridge (1)Bond Street (1)£2.40£8.00
13:30Bond Street (1)Tottenham Ct Rd (1)£2.40£10.40
15:00Oxford Circus (1)Dartford (8)£4.00£14.40Zone 1-8 off-peak cap
plus £1.50 for early bus

Morning Peak journey with Anytime cap reached

The same journeys but without using the bus to avoid a peak rail fare. This time the daily anytime cap is reached before the off-peak cap.
TimeFromToFareTotalNotes
09:10Dartford (8)London Bridge (1)£7.60£7.60
12:15London Bridge (1)Bond Street (1)£2.40£10.00
13:30Bond Street (1)Tottenham Ct Rd (1)£2.40£12.40
15:00Oxford Circus (1)Dartford (8)£4.10£16.50Zone 1-8 daily cap reached

Daily Capping with Oyster (mainly zone 1-2)

TimeFromToFareTotalNotes
10:10Upminster (6)Tower Hill (1)£3.10£3.10
12:15Aldgate (1)Baker Street (1)£2.40£5.50
13:02Baker Street (1)Oxford Circus (1)£2.40£7.90
14:28Bond Street (1)Camden Town (2)£2.40£10.30
16:30Camden Town (2)Upminster (6)£2.50£12.80Zone 1-6 daily cap reached

Daily Capping with Contactless (mainly zone 1-2)

TimeFromToFareTotalNotes
10:10Upminster (6)Tower Hill (1)£3.10£3.10will become a zone 6-3 extension later
12:15Aldgate (1)Baker Street (1)£2.40£5.50
13:02Baker Street (1)Oxford Circus (1)£2.40£7.90
14:28Bond Street (1)Camden Town (2)£0.60£8.50Zone 1-2 daily cap plus £1.50 off-peak extension fare for zones 6-3
16:30Camden Town (2)Upminster (6)£2.80£11.30As above plus a zone 3-6 peak extension fare

Rail in zones 1-2 plus buses and a tram

There is a special consideration if you cap at the zones 1-2 rate and then decide to use the tram. This is because trams only run in zones 3-6 and thus are not valid if the travelcard or cap doesn't include one of those zones.
TimeFromToFareTotalNotes
10:10Bayswater (1)Westminster (1)£2.40£2.40
11:25Victoria (1)Brixton (2)£2.40£4.80
11:42Bus 109£1.50£6.30
13:21West Croydon Tram£1.50£7.80Tram takes cap over zones 1-2
14:55Bus 54£0.40£8.20Zone 1-3 daily cap reached
16:30Lewisham (2)Bayswater (1)£0.00£8.20

I’ll be adding further examples over time.  Do respond in the comments if you have a scenario that you’d like explained.

42 Responses

  1. Hello Mike,

    thanks for the examples.
    I have another scenario I’m curious about (I think there is no influence of the time on the total price):
    Bayswater (1) -> Westminster (1) (tube)
    Victoria (1) -> Brixton (2) (tube)
    Brixton [-> West Croydon] (bus 109)
    West Croydon [-> Beckenham Junctiom] (tram, but not within a hopper fare!)
    Beckenham Junction [-> Lewisham] (bus 54, but not within a hopper fare!)
    Lewisham (2+3) -> Bayswater (1) (DLR + tube)

    Thanks a lot for your help!
    Ulf from Germany

  2. Hi Ulf,

    That’s an excellent suggestion. It’s reminded me that I need to examine some other edge cases involving trams. Your specific example is included above.

  3. Hi Mike,

    I travel daily from Shenfield to Notting hill using contactless. Which costs me £18.70 a day both ways. This week I have swtiches to oyster as my phone is in repairs and the oyster is charging me £24.60 per day! is this correct?

    Regards
    Chandni

  4. Hi Chandni,

    Yes, it is correct. Oyster is charging you for two peak singles all the way at £12.30 each. Contactless works out that a zone 1-4 cap at £10.10 plus two Shenfield to zone 5 singles at £4.30 each is the cheapest way. Do you have any other contactless cards?

    I know this will take longer, but you can avoid zone 1 by taking the Overground from Startford to Shepherd’s Bush and then the Central line back to Notting Hill Gate. The single fare for that is £8.20 peak.

  5. Hi Mike,

    I travel from Surbiton (6) to Waterloo (1), then I use the tube to travel around a few times between zones 1-3, is this capped at 12.80 for the day, is there a limit on how many journeys I can me?

    Thanks 🙂

  6. Hi Lucy,

    Yes, that’s subject to the zone 1-6 daily cap of £12.80. No limit on the number of journeys you can make.

  7. Hi Mike,

    Just asking this out of curiosity rather than anything else.
    This is the journey I took:
    – 9.29: Wembley Park (4) to London Bridge (1) charged £1.85
    -16.26: London Bridge (1) to Picadilly Circus (1) charged £2.40
    – 18.27: Picadilly circus to Wembley Park charged £2.40 (so it got capped at £6.65

    I have a National rail card and 18+. Just wondering why it got capped at off-peak fare when I travelled during peak times. Not complaining but I wanted to crack the case 🙂

  8. Hi Cassy,

    The off-peak cap covers everything after 0930, so even though you were charged peak fares in the evening they were limited by the off-peak cap. The first journey started within the grace period so was charged off-peak.

  9. Hi Mike
    We have a friend staying who is not able to cope with the overcrowding on Central Line. Their journey is from Woodford to Euston Square. If they take following route will it be charged as one journey i.e. As if they had remained on the Underground for complete journey?
    Woodford – Stratford (Central Line)
    Stratford – Liverpool Street Station Mainline (Using TFL overground)
    Liverpool Station – Euston Square (Hamm & City/District/Circle)

    You obviously have to tap out at Liverpool Main Line then tap back in to access the Underground again. An Oyster card is being used as payment.

    Many thanks
    Jane

  10. Hi Mike, thanks for all your hard work on this site.

    I have a weird capping scenario which seems to show that deliberately taking an extra bus can reduce your daily fare: as follows

    09:35 Victoria – King’s Cross £2.40
    11:00 Bus 205 £1.50
    12:30 Bus 38 £1.50
    13:00 Holborn – Bethnal Green £1.60 (1-2 cap hit)
    15:00 Bethnal Green – Upminster £1.50
    16:30 Bus 370 £1.50

    Total £10

    If on the other hand I do the following:

    09:31 Bus 11 £1.50
    09:35 Victoria – King’s Cross £2.40
    11:00 Bus 205 £1.50
    12:30 Bus 38 £1.50 (bus cap hit)
    13:00 Holborn – Bethnal Green £0.10 (1-2 cap hit)
    15:00 Bethnal Green – Upminster £1.50
    16:30 Bus 370 £0

    Total £8.50

    Did I get this right?

  11. Hi Metheth,

    It’s all about timing. The extra bus firstly ensures that the daily bus cap is reached and thus makes the final bus free. It also ensures that the zone 1-2 cap is hit with all 3 buses counting towards it, hence the Holborn to Bethnal Green fare is less. When you travel to Upminster the system upgrades the cap that you are working towards to be the zone 1-6 cap and will charge any journey made thereafter until that is reached, except the bus because the separate bus cap has already come into play.

  12. Hi Jane,

    It will be charged as one journey as long as there is no more than 20 minutes between touch out at Liverpool Street NR and touch in at Liverpool Street LU.

  13. Can you give some examples of situations when it is more cost effective to use two different oyster/contactless cards for different types (modes/zone mixes) of trips on the same day?

  14. Hi Jon,

    That’s quite a niche request. I don’t really want to complicate things to that extent, and certainly not on a page explaining how capping works. Using two Oyster cards runs the risk of paying too much if circumstances change and you make more travel than originally planned.

  15. Can you show capping scenarios which include the “short hop Zone 2-1 peak” easement/discount where the Z2-1 journey is charged at £2.40 instead of £2.90)

    (Example of the easement/discount: St. John’s Wood to Marylebone)

  16. Hi Miles,

    There’s nothing special about these fares in respect of capping. They are still a zone 1 to zone 2 fare and will be included in any daily cap.

  17. Nathan Down

    morning Mike,

    im from the US and will be staying with family in eynsford (kent) we (2 adults – 1 10year old) plan on going to london a couple of times from swanley (Z8). am i correct in thinking that the max we will pay per day (adult) is 16.10 GBP regardless of times ? we will be mostly using the buses and tubes in Z1-2 whilst attraction hoping. Thank in advance

  18. Hi Nathan,

    Almost. £16.10 is last years zone 1-8 cap, it’s now £16.50. However, if you don’t touch in at Swanley until 0930 the off-peak cap of £12.90 applies. For the ten year old you just need an off-peak day return to London for £5.35. Under 11s are free on buses, tubes and dlr.

  19. Nathan Down

    thanks mike, Nathan

  20. Nathan Down

    Hi Mike, I hope you don’t mind a follow-up question? Why would I have to pay for a return ticket for my daughter? Isn’t she free when I have an oyster card? Thank you again

  21. Hi Nathan,

    She’s free on buses, Underground and DLR, and some National Rail services, but not the National Rail services from Swanley.

  22. Nathan Down

    Ok. Thanks again mike

  23. Nathan Down

    Hi Mike,

    My 10 year old would only be free on the National Rail Service once she is within zone 6 correct ? and Swanley is Zone 8. Could i basically get her a return to a zone 6 station like St Mary Cray from Swanley and save a few pennies ?

    Thanks again. I’ll stop pestering now 🙂

    Nathan

  24. Sorry Nathan,

    She is only free on certain National Rail operators (eg London Overground or TfL Rail). She’s not free on Southeastern or Thameslink. It’s one of the more complicated aspects of ticketing in London.

  25. Nathan Down

    oh ok. thanks for all your help

  26. Hi Mike,

    I thought I understood all this but was recently pleasantly mystified that I had got something wrong.

    Details are:

    National Railcard discount loaded on Oyster:

    1022 Z1 to Z2 Tube £1.60
    1720 Z2 to Z1 Tube £1.60
    1823 Z1 to Z1 Tube £1.40 due to capping at £4.60.

    I had expected that the last journey would have been a “Peak” fare and meant that it was a £2.40 charge, and that the capping would not kick in either. Very confused. Can you help?

    Thank you

  27. Hi David,

    It was a peak fare, but capped by the off-peak cap. Everything after 0930 is limited by the off-peak cap, even evening peak fares.

  28. Jenny Johannesson

    Hi Mike!
    I´m visiting London next month, arriving at Gatwick on the 6th of June. I´m going to my hotel near Waterloo station, leaving Gatwick approx. 8.45 am. Then I´m going to Kingston upon Thames at about 10.30 and going back to Waterloo in the evening, approx 8 pm.
    Is there a point to register for using cpc or is a visitor oyster the best choice?
    What will the fare be for the whole day?

  29. Hi Jenny,

    I’d use a contactless card in that situation as you’d have to pay for a visitor Oyster card. You don’t have to register the CPC, but it obviously helps to check you’re being charged correctly. Gatwick to Waterloo at that time in the morning will be £15.10 and the two Kingston journeys will be £4.10 each.

  30. Hey Mike i wonder if you can help, if i start my journey at 6:00 am from ilford rail station and touch out at paddington station at around 6:50 am will i be charged peak fare even though i started my journey at of peak time ? Im paying around £194 a month for a monthly zone 1-4, as i pretty much work 21 days out of the month days and night shifts on a rolling roster (3 days, 3 nights, 3 off)
    (7am -7pm Days)- (7pm -7am nighshifts) is there any way i could travel for a little cheaper. Thank you for your help in advance.

  31. Hi Abs,

    Just use PAYG. Touch in at 0600 will charge off-peak whatever time you touch out. Both your day shift journeys will be off peak as will the to work night journey because it ends in zone 1. Only the return at just after 7am will be peak. Your 9-day roster will be 3x£3.90 + 9x£2.80 = £36.90, 3 of them is thus £110.70 plus 3 day shifts (6x£2.80 = £16.80) gives you a monthly total of roughly £127.50, or £130.80 if the month starts with 3 nights.

  32. Thank you kindly for your prompt response mike i really appreciate the effort you have taken to help me all the best

  33. Nigel Cardozo

    Hi Mike,

    I have seen your scenario 3 and 4 about off peak daily and anytime daily caps and was a abit confused. About the scenario 3 I do understand that the offpeak daily cap was charged (£12.90) plus the bus fare (£1.50). However what if more journeys were made on that day in scenario 3 for example from Dartford (zone 8) to zone 3 at 16.15(peak hour) and one more from zone 3 to Dartford (zone 8) at 20.00? Would it charge more until the anytime cap is reached which is £16.50? Or would it stay at £14.40? What confuses me is if the first touch in was made at 09.10 which is at peak hour shouldn’t the cap stop at Anytime daily and not stop at Offpeak daily as the cap rate is determined by the time of touch in

    Regarding scenario 4, why was Oxford circus to Dartford £4.10 for the single fare when scenario 3 was £4.00 for the same journey? And in the same scenario 4, for example if the first train was caught at 09.45 (off peak) from Dartford to London bridge instead of 09.10 (peak), the cap would stop at £12.90 (off peak daily cap) instead of £16.50 (anytime daily cap) because the first touch in was made at off peak time (09.45)? Is that correct?

    Sorry for being a pain but I’m really confused on how the peak and off peak caps work outside zones 1-6.

    Thank you.

  34. Hi
    Was just wondering why I’m get charged £15.00 everyday when commuting from broxbourne (zone 9) to Clapham Common (going through zone 1). I travel off peak AM and PM, tfl website says the off-peak cap for zones 1-9 is £12.90

    Thanks sunny

  35. Hi Nigel,

    The key thing to remember is that even though peak single fares are charged in the afternoon peak, total travel is governed by the off-peak cap.

    So, in scenario 3 your two extra journeys would both be free because the off-peak cap had been reached. The different prices for Oxford Circus to Dartford simply reflect the amount required to reach the applicable cap. And yes, if touch in at Dartford was after 0930 then the off-peak cap would apply for all the travel.

    Also note: The touch in time is important, NOT the time of the train caught.

  36. Hi Sunny,

    Broxbourne is not in zone 9. It’s in zone B or zone 11 depending on which internal numbering system is in use. If you use my fare finder it lists the applicable caps for the journey being made.

    By the way, you are benefitting from the favourable treatment of caps and extension fares offered by contactless. You are being charged for a zone 1-2 cap (£7) and two off-peak extensions Broxbourne to zone 3 (£4 each).

  37. Hi there
    My journey yesterday from Grays to London Zone 1 came to £15.80:- £7.40 out (off peak) and £8.40 return. This was clearly not capped at £12.80 as I was led to believe. Do you know why? Also, would it make a difference if I used contactless in future?
    Thank you.

  38. Hi Karen,

    Grays is not in zone 6. The caps are £24.60 anytime, £18.40 off-peak. Paper day travelcards may be cheaper than the caps in this instance. Contactless may also work out cheaper than Oyster with a return journey.

  39. Hi Mike,

    I have been pondering an issue for MONTHS and wonder if you are the person to put me out of my misery! Suppose I go between zone 4 and zone 2 enough to reach the weekly cap. I then make a journey from New Malden (zone 4) to Richmond (also zone 4). This is a journey that can either be done on a single train via Kingston (which is zone 6), or by changing at Clapham Junction (zone 2). How does the system know which way I have gone, and whether or not it should be included under the zone 2 – 4 cap?

    Thaaanks!

  40. Hi Jenny,

    Yes, I can provide the answer. If you use my fare finder at https://www.oyster-rail.org.uk/fares-guide/new-oyster-fare-finder/ then you’ll find the zones covered for each fare. The default route does indeed say zones 2-4 so you will not be charged further if you have capped at the weekly cap.

    Zone coverage is one of the extras that I add onto the TfL-powered fare data, along with daily caps.

  41. Hi,

    I was wondering whether it would be cheaper because of the caps to buy a return paper ticket from London to Winnersh or whether I could tap in with my Oyster at Waterloo in the night then tap back out when I return in the morning?

    Thanks!

  42. Hi Nathan,

    If you want to use Oyster PAYG then you must touch in at the beginning and out at the end of your journey. Feltham is the extent of Oyster towards Winnersh so you’d have to get off the train there.

    If you can tell me your full commute, including the rough times you travel, I can see if there is anything you can do to save money.

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