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Archive for the ‘Oyster Diary’ Category

Contactless might cost more than Oyster

We’ve all heard the annoying announcements at tube stations. Why not use contactless? The fares are the same as Oyster and there’s no need to top up. In fact, as described elsewhere on this site, contactless can often be cheaper than Oyster thanks to the way it compares all combinations of caps and extension fares. However, TfL have unwittingly introduced an issue which means that sometimes contactless may cost more than Oyster.

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What’s wrong with this poster?

I made a return trip to Gatwick yesterday to see my son off on a plane. Obviously I didn’t want to line GTR’s pockets (or the DfT) more than I had to so I touched out and back in at East Croydon each way while changing trains.  On the way back I noticed a poster advertising Oyster/contactless at Gatwick.

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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 »

Caution – Hokey-Cokey Issues

So today I’ve been out and about experimenting and encountered a problem with trying to break an OSI.  The OSI was broken alright, but the fare charged for the first leg was not what I expected to see.  I’m trying to track back through my journey history to see where I’ve tested this before but it’s taking a while.  So far I’ve only found where one of my kids used it to break a circular journey.  In that instance it worked just fine, but as kids fares within zones 1-6 are just a flat 75p off-peak it may have masked other effects.

Watch this space for more news.

Missing Contactless touches

Time for another update on my personal adventures.  On Monday evening I decided to visit some of the new Overground lines and stations in North East London.  I also took along my son with his zip card for company.  Everything worked fine on the night, but examining my history the next day has highlighted a couple of missing touches, Read the rest of this entry »

Southwark and Blackfriars

On Saturday afternoon I went walking around the City in search of book benches with my son.  When we had finished we made our way to the north bank entrance to Blackfriars and only then did we realise that FCC trains weren’t serving London Bridge this weekend.  The advertised diversion via Elephant and Castle seemed a bit of a detour so we decided to walk a bit more by crossing the river through Blackfriars, along to Southwark and through there to Waterloo East.  This gave me a chance to check out a report that walking through Southwark is always free.

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Contactless Pilot (June)

My participation in the contactless pilot has been severely hampered since the end of May. First my bank decided to issue new cards which meant that I had to go through the process of registering a new card number for the pilot. Then I managed to lose the other card linked to the same account so they had to cancel everything again, even though I still had the card I was using for contactless travel. Interestingly though, when TfL came to charge the amount for travel that day, Read the rest of this entry »

Contactless Pilot (end of May)

I’ve decided to stop talking about journeys which have no issues as they are becoming more common.  The bottom line is that contactless works, apart from one issue that I’ll come to later on.  I’ll still be testing edge conditions, sometimes inadvertantly, and these I’ll document on here.

So, the big test this week was exceeding the maximum journey time.  Read the rest of this entry »

Contactless Pilot Days 3-9

Oh dear, I seem to have got behind updating this.  The good news is that there aren’t any show-stopping problems so far.  Comments are always welcome and will be fed back to TfL if relevant.  It’s now getting more exciting as I’ve been asked to download an app and record details of my experiences as I travel.  The app has loaded and I’ve set it up, so I’m ready to go.  But first, the last few days … Read the rest of this entry »

Contactless Pilot Day 2

Monday was the last day of the Easter holidays so I went to North Greenwich with one of my sons.  I managed to test more features of the contactless operation, including inadvertantly missing a touch during one of the journeys.  I remain very happy with how it’s progressing so far. Read the rest of this entry »

TfL Contactless Pilot

When I signed up for this in November last year I was resigned to being told that my travel wasn’t enough to make a worthwhile contribution.  After all, around half my journeys are by bus which aren’t included in the rail trial and thus wouldn’t count towards daily capping.  Then in December the whole thing was put on hold thanks to the last minute fares revision changes.  So when I received an email last week inviting me to join the trial I was very excited.  My participants card arrived yesterday.

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Blackfriars to Southwark OSI

During the last week I’ve had a chance to test out the new OSI between Blackfriars and Southwark.  This has been described as a temporary one while the work at London Bridge moves forward, although I think a case could be made for keeping it permanently.  The walk took 7-10 minutes depending on how busy the traffic was on Blackfriars Bridge which is quite reasonable.  There is unfortunately a flaw which means caution should be exercised when making journeys across zone 1.

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2 for 1 errors checked

On Saturday I went out with one of my kids to try and check out the maximum journey time bug on Whitechapel to Balham NR.  While trying to avoid both cards getting two incomplete journeys I actually managed to replicate the touch out followed by touch in at an OSI gateline continues the journey problem.  Oh dear!

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Pink Route Validator Change

On Sunday I travelled round the new overground orbital route starting with the newest link from Surrey Quays to Clapham Junction.  I also tried out exceeding the normal one zone journey time but not the extended time allowed near Central London.  Somewhat disappointingly this worked, meaning that the issues some people have had with Whitechapel to Balham might be restricted to certain routes only.

However, while at Willesden Junction I noticed an important change to the signage on the pink route validators.  Rather than just inviting PAYG users to touch them, the notice now instructs those with a travelcard not including zone 1 to do so as well.  I think this probably means an end to the loopholes where you could travel across zone 1 on some journeys with a travelcard ending at zone 2 and not be charged a zone 1 fare.  It’s a shame, though I can’t fault the justification for doing it as long as queues don’t build up at key interchange points.

Gate problems at London Bridge

I’ve just got back from a night out in town and had a major problem at London Bridge on the way home.  All the gates were locked open (nothing unusual in that, I know) but rather than have some Oyster readers working as entry and others as exit, EVERY gate was set to exit only.  This even included the wide gates with a validator attached as that had been set to exit only.

I wonder how many people just touched on the wide gate validator and received an unstarted journey charge?  It certainly caught my brother out, so I’ll have some sorting out to do with the helpdesk later in the week.

I also wonder whether Southeastern get a cut of incomplete journey charges where the unmatched touch is made at one of their stations?  You can bet that many people won’t realise they’ve been over charged.

Successfully added railcard

Along with thousands of others, my eldest has just made the transition from 11-15 zip to 16+ zip.  Prompted by the letter received in late August I applied online for the new card.  As his school is just outside London I had to print a letter for the school to sign and stamp, then take the letter and payment to the post office.  However, the photo and age verification were completed online which no doubt sped up the process.  Less than two weeks later Read the rest of this entry »

Same station re-entry problems

Several visitors have reported problems when touching out and back in again at the same station.  The system tries to combine the two journeys into one, often resulting in a pair of incomplete journeys when you get back to your starting station.  But if your journey included an OSI en-route then you may well end up out of the system altogether and be given a penalty fare!

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Wimbledon Improvements

I visited Wimbledon again briefly yesterday.  While sitting on the tram waiting for it to leave I noticed that they’ve stuck additional signage on the sides of the validators facing the steps.  One says only to be used for National Rail journeys while the other says only to be used for tram journeys.  Credit where it’s due, this is a big improvement, so well done to the station team at Wimbledon!

Afternoon Peak and Zone 6

I’ve recently discovered a potential saving when making return journeys on National Rail in the afternoon peak where the journey starts or finishes in zone 6.  Full details are on the When not to use Oyster page.  It turns out that I’ve been overpaying for my regular trip from Crayford to Sidcup for the kids’ band practices.

Fare errors from Crayford, Bexley

I’m beginning to get a little annoyed about this now.  Someone seems to have forgotten to tell the fares manager that you can take direct trains from Crayford and Bexley to Woolwich Arsenal via Slade Green, and thus take the DLR under the river to Canning Town, West Ham and Stratford.  This means that there is no earthly Read the rest of this entry »

The Southwark Pass-through

I thought it was time for another snippet from my own Oyster travels.  Today I had to get into Farringdon for a meeting.  With no services there or at Barbican I decided to use the bus from Southwark Jubilee line station.  This meant that I had to exit Waterloo East via the Southwark connection and walk straight through the Underground station without travelling.  There is a special setting Read the rest of this entry »

Using Oyster with a Travelcard

In the last week I had to make an unusually high number of evening peak journeys between Crayford and Sidcup, so for the first time I decided to buy a weekly travelcard for zones 5 and 6.  I now have first hand experience of some of the differences that occur when you have a travelcard season loaded on your card.  I’ll be adding stuff to the main site pages in due course, but for now, here is a summary of the best and worst bits: Read the rest of this entry »

Tram Update – Now ends rail journey

An eagle eyed site visitor has tipped me off that if you change between train and tram at either Elmers End or Wimbledon you do not need to end the rail journey as well as start a tram journey.  You must touch in on the tram boarding validator, but Read the rest of this entry »

A Visit To Finsbury Park

Other travel during the day had almost applied an off-peak cap to my card so I took the opportunity to investigate reports of problems, both current and future, at Finsbury Park.  Before I outline the full story though, the important message here is that at the moment you do NOT need to touch out or in if interchanging between Underground and National Rail.  In fact, if you try to touch out you will hit serious problems.

As usual I started my journey at Crayford.  Read the rest of this entry »

Another Refund

My own personal use of Oyster has been ticking along quite nicely of late.  I check journey history regularly and get statements from time to time to keep records for posterity.  You can imagine my surprise Read the rest of this entry »

New Pink Route Validators

I have finally received a reply to my suggestion that TfL need to install a pink route validator at Surrey Quays.  Whilst not promising anything specific, it does appear as though there will be some new opportunities to avoid zone 1 in the new year.  Here is the reply: Read the rest of this entry »

OSI may not end journey

Yesterday I discovered another little anomaly with the Oyster system.  I ventured out with one of my kids on a circular route taking in the DLR and Overground.  We touched in at Crayford and took the rounder service to Woolwich Arsenal.  Then it was the DLR to Shadwell with the obligatory sitting in the front seat pretending to drive the train. Read the rest of this entry »

Travel one more stop and pay less!

It’s official, travelling a stop further on than you need to can actually reduce the fare you are charged!  Following on from the recent story about the missing route validator at Surrey Quays, this morning I went from  Crayford to Honor Oak Park via New Cross and Canada Water.  Read the rest of this entry »

An Unusual Refund

A couple of weeks ago I had a surprising email from Transport for London.  It told me that I was due a refund of £4 because of an ‘operational issue’.  It said that the refund was ready to be picked up from London Bridge Underground station.  This was just the start of a whole new discovery.  Read the rest of this entry »

TfL forget ELL route validator

The East London Line has re-opened and from this Sunday (23rd May) will provide direct services from Dalston Junction to West Croydon and Crystal Palace.  That’s great, but there’s a vital piece of equipment missing at Surrey Quays if you change there when travelling between New Cross and New Cross Gate.

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Don’t Use The Bus!

I’ve managed to break the oyster system again!  I’ll admit that this time it was a deliberate attempt to try something out-of-the-ordinary, but not impossible.  I was returning from Balham to Crayford and I changed at New Cross Gate to avoid using zone 1.  It was raining, so rather than walk Read the rest of this entry »

The Double Journey (Part 4)

To complete the picture I tried one more time to use the concourse at London Bridge while exiting from Southeastern (P1-6) and entering to Southern (P8-16).  Again I was charged for two journeys.  Whilst I await a response from either ATOC or the Oyster Helpline I have flagged these two OSIs as not working on the list here.

The Double Journey (Part 3)

Well, the explanation from ATOC seemed to make sense, but in fact it was incorrect.  Yesterday I made another journey from Crayford to Norwood Junction.  Just for variety I tried travelling via Victoria on the outward journey because engineering works meant that the trains from Dartford were diverted via Sidcup.  It all worked correctly this time, until I came to go home. Read the rest of this entry »

A Double Journey?

I’ve just checked my journey history and noticed that Tuesday night’s journey to Norwood Junction has been charged as two separate journeys, one from Crayford to London Bridge and the other from London Bridge to Norwood Junction.  Surely that can’t be right?  True, I could have used the footbridge to change platforms, but I was hungry Read the rest of this entry »

About turn!

Just after receiving the kid’s Oyster cards I had set up auto top-up on them in anticipation that they would be used most weeks.  The initial top up had been loaded onto their cards the day before the email about the Family and Friends Railcard arrived.  What should I do now? Read the rest of this entry »

Early Teething Problems

Following our first trip, I repeatedly logged in to the Oyster online website over the weekend expecting to see details of the journey appear.  I wanted to see how touch in and touch out would be recorded as previously I’d only ever used my card on buses.  Monday morning came and still no sign Read the rest of this entry »

The Story So Far

Back in late 2009 it was announced that Oyster pay-as-you-go would finally be accepted throughout the national rail network within London.  Living in south-east London, this was great news to me. I’d lost count of the times Read the rest of this entry »