Travelling around London

Cheapest / Easiest / Quickest ways

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16/02/2012 at 17:48

It looks as though I'll be spending a week in London, and while I'm there, I'd be interested in spending as much time out and about, walking as much as possible. I'll probably be operating from a base well away from the centre, so I'll be travelling every day in and out of the city.

Now... for those folks who do this sort of thing all the time... what's the best way of doing this? From a quick online search it looks as though I have two options... the Oyster Card... and the Travelcard. From what I understand, the Oyster Card has to be topped up with money, and every time it gets used, the journey cost is debited from the card, and works out cheaper than buying a ticket for each journey made. The Travelcard, on the other hand, has an option offering unlimited travel across all zones for seven days.

Assuming, for the sake of argument, that I was based on one side of London, but travelled every day into the centre, and most of the way out the other side, then back again later in the day... then which of those cards will offer the best deal?

Incidentally, I reckon the bulk of my journeys will be on the Tube network.

16/02/2012 at 18:06
You put a TravelCard on an OysterCard.

If you've won the lottery then yes you could use PAYG for the week otherwise get a travelCard for your OysterCard.

I live in Zone 1 but the minimum I can get is a zone 1 & 2 which is just under £30 for 7 days. This MIGHT be worth thinking about as it also gives you unlimited bus travel throughout london.

As I said get a travelcard for your OysterCard which gives unlimited travel throughout London on bus's, tube and overland trains. Zone 6 to zone 1 will be £53.40 for the week.

If your a masochist then you could save money by getting a bus pass for £18? for the week but getting from zone 6 to zone 1 would take 3 hours?

From the sounds of it you'd be best off with a 1 to 6 Zone Travelcard which you put on your Oystercard for which you pay a £5 deposit.

BTW a single PAYG return on Oyster from zone 6 to zone 1 costs about £8 and a 1 day TravelCard is about £16. The 7 day TravelCard for your (you got it!) OysterCard works out as about £7.50 per day for unlimited travel.

So as you can see there is nothing ABSOLUTELY nothing cheap about public transport in London.
Edited: 16/02/2012 at 18:23
16/02/2012 at 18:19

I already figured that using buses would be a slow way of getting around, and I find the bus routes confusing... even more so if I'm going to have to work out different routes from wherever I start and finish, to wherever I'm going to be staying. On the other hand, I find the Tube network absolutely foolproof.

So... I can put a Travelcard on an Oyster Card... and basically get wherever I want for a week at less than £10 per day? That compares favourably with getting around the Lake District, where I can do pretty much the same thing for the same price, but only waiting for a few minutes, rather than hours, for connections.

16/02/2012 at 18:23

as bedders says put the travel card on the oyster card. an oyster card makes travel immeasurably easier and cheaper.

you may decide pay as you go (payg) but ths depends upon one base decision. if you are travelling before 9:30 in the morning then you will need a weekly travelcard - which is the easiest option.

if you are traveling after 9:30 then the payg option mat be more attractive (but more caveats later) as your oyster is charged as you use it up to a maximum amount you will pay - which i think is 50p less than a paper daily travelcard.

more considerations. because london operates on zones and you are not travelling often outside your base zone (i live in zone 3) then, using me as an example, getting a zone 1-3 travelcard and using cash top up on your oyster card to pay the additional fare for travel outside of those zones - which is automatically deducted from your oystercard. the amount will also depend upon th etime of day i.e. before 9:30. naturally this option is more faff and is probably more faff than any cash difference is worth.

all of london's trains now operate the oyster card - surburban services and the excellent london overground.


16/02/2012 at 18:29
PAYG is O.K for the odd single trip here and there if your crossing zones doing return or multiple journeys over days then a weekly etc is MUCH cheaper and more flexible.

Any idea where your going to be based paddy? buses can be very useful!
Edited: 16/02/2012 at 18:31
16/02/2012 at 18:38

london has a wide and excellent bus service which has been continually improved and combined with the oyster card are now fast and frequent.

your travelcard allows bus travel everywhere.

something to remember is to always have your oyster read by one of the readers. it soon becomes second nature.

how to use the barriers at stations - simple you'd think but stand watching the numpties and you'll realise that people have terrible trouble with them.

as you enter the barrier towards the gates you have your oyster card read on the yellow pad. just before the gates at about thigh level you will see two smallish squares. these are the gate sensors. if you stand in front of or obstruct them the gates will not work no matter how much you wave your oystercard about. on the other side after the gates are open are the same sensors which monitor the exit from the gates. if you are carrying a bag ensure it is carried right next to you with no gap between you and the bag or the sensor will think someone else is trying to sneak through and close trapping your bag.

always wait for the barrier light to say ENTER before proceeding through - the reason is too long for this time of night but please do it.

full info and maps can be found on the rather enigmatically named site. however, if there are travel problems i've also found that, bizarrely, the bbc london website travel section is often rather better informed.

if you wish to travel to the south downs area - southampton to ashford only on southern railways you can buy a downlander all network self printed ticket for £12.50 which weekdays restricts travel to after 10 am but covers the whole network and buses about the brighton, eastbourne and lewes areas. available only online and two days notice is required. search google with "southern downlander" as you'll never find it on the southern railways web site.

hope this has been useful for you paddy. dinner now calls....(aka the Angel)

16/02/2012 at 18:40
Not the cheapest option but as a treat I'd recommend the Thames Clipper.
16/02/2012 at 18:48

I'm sure that if I come completely unstuck using an Oyster Card, a small child or an old lady will rush to my aid! (I used an Ormer Card on the buses on Guernsey - named after a local oyster-like mollusc!)

I haven't sorted out a place to stay yet, but it definitely won't be any hostel or shared accommodation. Too many bad memories of London hostels! I'll probably go for some bland and cheerless option like a Travelodge, on the grounds that I won't be there during the hours of daylight, and at night I'll only go there to sleep.

I wouldn't mind a river trip if I find I have the time for it. The only proper walking I've ever done in London is to follow the Thames Path a couple of times.

16/02/2012 at 19:51
not quite right paddy ----ormer- channel island french  from french oreille de mer which translates as ear of the sea -----known usually as abalone----about the size and shape  of a womens slightly cupped hand----it sticks to rocks like a large limpet------tough of old boots to eat------regards lr
16/02/2012 at 19:59
Well... yeah... it's an abalone... but the shell looks more like an oyster than a limpet. I was keen to try one last time I was in the Channel Islands, and I was on the lookout for an 'Ormer Tide', only to be told that the locals gathered them for themselves, and there would be none available for visitors. Up until that point, I'd assumed that any old seafood restaurant would have them on the menu. Not to worry... I got one last November in Korea, straight from the sea, with no cooking involved, and it was even tougher than an old boot!
16/02/2012 at 20:01

Let us know when you're coming paddy, i'll put the kettle on

or we could have an OM London meet and all sit `round looking glum.

16/02/2012 at 20:11
sorry to be pedantic paddy but as an ex ormer and oyster fisherman i couldn t  resist sticking my oar in  regards lr
16/02/2012 at 20:18
As I've never been a fisherman... I don't have an oar to stick in!
16/02/2012 at 20:21
Addick wrote (see)

Let us know when you're coming paddy, i'll put the kettle on

or we could have an OM London meet and all sit `round looking glum.

I'll be sure to make an announcement... and I'll expect hot thermos flasks to be placed at strategic intervals along the way! Sitting round looking glum might be all that's going to happen if this current spell of weather doesn't give way to something more cheery.

16/02/2012 at 20:21

Some of the above makes it sound complicated, but basically if you get an Oyster card it will let you use buses and tubes and some overground trains within the 'Zones' area whenever you want. If you make a single short trip that's all you'll get charged for. If you travel all day it will add charges until you get to just under the cost of a travelcard (which is more expensive if any journeys are during morning peak hours), then everything else is free.

The main problem from your point of view is that you could end up with unused (and to you possibly useless) credit on the card at the end of your trip.  

Depending where you end up staying, and where you need to be in London - cycling is also a realistic option - often quicker (and at rush hour more comfortable) than trying to travel on the tube - and cycling following an OS map may be an easier way of navigation than trying to work out tube/bus routes.

The canal network offers good traffic free cycle routes around the North side of the city, and there are lots of parks as well as the superhighways.

Either wayTravelineSouthEast is a very useful  site for getting tube/bus routes and timings (there's a very big difference in speed between tube lines - district is particularly slow - so the obvious route isn't always best) or for cycle route/times.

16/02/2012 at 20:24
Cycling is fine, Ron, except that I'd need to 'lose' the bike while I went walking.
16/02/2012 at 20:26

As others have said, a 7day Travelcard is a good bet giving unlimited travel on trains, buses, the tube and DLR across all 6 zones for about £7.60 per day.  But it is not necessary to have an oyster card as well.

The Thames Clipper also has a good service if you have the time and you can get a 1/3 off of their fares with a valid travelcard which is a better price than for an Oyster.

16/02/2012 at 20:31

"Losing" the bike won't be a problem...... finding it again afterwards could be more difficult.

I guess a lot depends on roughly where you'll be staying and where you need to be in the centre.

And there's always Boris' Bikes to be had if you don't want to take your own (and don't want to look stylish).

16/02/2012 at 20:42
I use Boris's bikes all the time - far and away the fastest and most comfortable way of getting around. I have my own good bike, and live in brixton, but it's sometimes quicker to jump on an overground train into the city centre, and then move around there by Boris's bikes.
For a week's casual unlimited use it's only £5. (I pay a yearly sub of £45)

Okay, they're not wonderful lightweight bikes, but they do the job perfectly well, and very much faster than buses. If you need to go more than a half hour, stop, and wait five minutes, then pick one up again.
Make sure you have a map of docking stations, though, as they are often tucked away in hard-to-find corners.
16/02/2012 at 20:59
Couple of comments on the above.

Parky's description of using an Oyster Card is great, he only missed that you have to scan the card on yellow pad on the RIGHT of the gate or else you're going to let someone else through for free and get charged a maximum fare for that journey.

Boris Bike parking points only extend to around the Zone1 - Zone2 boundary so won't be available further out.

Depending on what you're doing you may find that a weekly travelcard costs more than just using the PAYG. As an example commuting to and from work (zones 1-6) on weekdays would be £48 (£4.80 * 10) using PAYG, whereas the weekly travelcard would be £53.40. That's over a fiver difference! Stay late at work or go out for dinner before going home (after 19:00) and you save another £1.90.

Full fare details are here

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