London’s transport system offers several ticket options. The system works on “zones”. The main tourist attractions and the center of London are in Zones 1-2. So, except where noted, the pricing discussed below is for Zones 1-2.
(fares updated December 30, 2010 with early 2011 pricing information)
- The most basic ticket – a “Cash Single Fare” is £4.00 for most of the network, £4.00 to Heathrow via tube. Approximately 90% of the time, this is not what you want.
- Travelcards – come in 1, 3 and 7 day options.
- 1 day zone 1-2 travelcard: £8.00 peak, £6.60 off-peak
- 3 day zone 1-2 travelcard: the 3 day card has been removed
- 7 day zone 1-2 travelcard: £27.60 (there is no peak/offpeak)
- Oyster Card – this is the newest form of “currency” for the London transport system.
- From the TFL web site: Oyster is London’s travel smartcard. You can put your Travelcard or Bus Pass season ticket on it, add travel value (cash) to pay as you go or have a combination of both. Oyster cards are also reusable. This means that when your ticket expires you can buy another on the same Oyster card, and when your travel value (cash) runs out, you can just top it up.
- The basic idea with Oyster is that you load up the card and you receive the best fares possible based on your trip. So for example, a “Single Fare” in cash is £3.00 but could be free if you have already passed the limits for a day on the Oyster.
- Oyster charges a £3.00 refundable deposit when initially charging and receiving the card. There is no fee if you only charge the Oyster with the 7 day travel card listed above.
- Some of the benefits I see with pre-pay Oyster include:
- easy to use and recharge
- allows you to travel anywhere in the system and the computer handles how much to charge you for the trip
- keep the card forever, each trip back to London you use the same card.
My personal preference is that you use an Oyster card for all of your trips. What’s great is that you can share it – so when you return to your home country, pass it along to a friend.