Underground Robbery

oyster card


<This post is dedicated to Jono and his obsession with integrated transport.>

It seems that nearly every time I go to London, the cost of transport in the city has gone up. And with this new year, it has gone up again.

As an illustration, when I was living in England (2002-2004), a single bus ride in London was £1 and a day bus pass was £2. I remember being disappointed when the single fare went up to £1.20, if only because finding the right change was more of a hassle. But not long after that, the single fare went up to £1.50 and a day pass to £3. A day bus pass now costs £3.50.

An off-peak day travelcard for zones 1 & 2 now costs £5.10 and a peak travelcard £6.60. If you are going to London with American dollars, that can be really painful.

I have often stressed over what tickets to use in London. A travelcard is a good investment, but I never know if I am only going to get the tube once and then end up walking everywhere until it’s time to go home in a cab. That problem will finally be solved. Jono is buying a pay-as-you-go Oyster card for me today. That means that I will have however much credit he puts on there, and Oyster card fares are a lot lower than cash fares. For example, the fares for a tube ride from Angel to Westminster (randomly chosen zone 1 stations) are £4.00 for cash and only £1.50 with an Oyster card. Whilst a cash bus fare is £2, an Oyster card bus ride is only £1. And Oyster cards have daily price caps.

Overland train fares have also increased at rates above inflation. Jono says that all of the increases are “the cost of neglecting investment for years and dealing with an antiquated system.

What makes it all so unfair is that the trains don’t run on time, the tube is always breaking down, and buses are slow because of traffic.

I like to compare London’s transport to Prague’s – not really fair perhaps because Prague is smaller and its transport system is more modern. But everything runs on time here, nothing ever breaks down, and if a tram has an accident with a car, it is all cleared up within 10 minutes. (I know that first-hand because once when I was driving I hit a tram.)

But here’s the biggest difference – an annual pass for London zones 1 & 2 costs £928. An annual pass for Prague costs 4,150 Kč, which is equal to £102.

Transport for London


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