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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

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.
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.
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.
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)

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)

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.
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.

29 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?


  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

  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 🙂


  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.

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