The Oyster card is a way of paying cheaply for journeys around London without having to hand over cash. The fares on an Oyster card are cheaper than those purchased elsewhere.
Area the Oystercard applies to
Oyster cards can be used on:
Buses/Trams in the London area
The Tube, London Overground, DLR (Zones 1-9 + Watford Junction)
Riverboats (PAYG only gets reduced fares on Thames Clipper Services; Travelcard gets reduced fares on all operators)
All National Rail suburban trains stopping in Zones 1-9 and on journeys to Chafford Hundred, Grays, Ockendon, Purfleet, Watford Junction. (Not on Heathrow Express; Heathrow Connect services between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow; Southeastern High speed services between St Pancras International and Stratford International; Any journey starting or finishing outside Zones 1-9 or beyond Watford Junction or Grays.)
Two methods of payment
Pay As You Go
Just as you would with your mobile, add credit to the oyster card. This can be done at most Tube stations as well as mainline stations. You can also do it at any newsagent where you see the Oyster Top Up Sign, as well as over the phone or online.
16-17 year olds in London
16 - 17 year olds in full time education can apply for an Oyster photocard from the 1st September 2006. This will allow you to travel free on London's buses, and give you travelcards for half the adult price. To get an application, visit your local post office on the 1st Sept.
To claim a student oyster card, your university has to be part of the scheme associated with TfL in order to approve the application form. Throughout the duration of university, you will have to reapply every year as your student discount on the card will expire, yet the normal adult privileges will still remain on the card. Reapplying will unfortunately cost £5.00, and if you have incorrectly filled out the application, your fee will be revoked and you will again have to apply with a further £5.00 charge.
Beneficial or Not?
Using the odd journey here and there, the oyster card most definitely benefits Londoners. However, the same fees are applied to adults. Students do not get a discount on pre pay. Even a weekly travlelcard incurrs only a slight saving over a standard adult weekly. It therefore sometimes represents no benefit to a student seeing as lectures are infrequent and past rush hour times.
The prepay service however, is cheaper than purchasing a ticket, ableit being the same cost as an adult fare. The confusing aspect is why, especially since you have to queue to get the cost put onto the card. The whole idea of the Oyster is to reduce queues, so TfL hope passengers can put on £20 odd pounds on the card to use at your convenience.
As I previously said, sit down and work out the Math, students get a hard deal on travelcards, especially since we are at university only approx 3 days per week and not travelling permanently at peak times. In fact, in some instances, the adults get a better deal overall than we would if we were to purchase the ticket, e.g.
You live in Zone 6 and your university is in Zone 1, you travel to university 3 days per week and your lectures commence:
- Monday at 09:00hrs - 11:00hrs
- Thursday 12:00hrs - 16:00hrs
- Friday 14:00hrs - 15:00hrs
A student travelcard for the week zones 1-6 costs £28.60 whilst an adult would cost £41.00. A daily cost in corresponding order to the lecture times would be as follows:
- £12.40 (Adult ticket - peak hours)
- £6.30 (Adult ticket - off peak)
- £6.30 (Adult ticket - off peak)
This represents a £1.80 saving over the student travelcard, with the additional fact that the student does not always travel in peak times, whilst adults travel 5 days per week always within peak hours. The adult cost per day on a 9-5 job would be £12.40 per day equating £62.00, a far greater saving over the £41.00, as well as travelling peak times all week. Due to the complex pricing structure, not many students realise they are getting any form of saving, yet believe they the necessary discount (which is true). At this present time, no future discounts will be implemented as TfL believes the scheme is only an inducement and not obligatory. Due to the circumstances, many people are investiagting this loophole and are polling for some results. A petition has already begun at governmental level to enforce the appropriate reduction to university students in London. The petition can be found at: http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/oysterdiscount/
16-25 Railcard and Oyster
You can get the 16-25 Railcard discount applied to your Oyster Card. This will mean it caps out at £3.60 (for zones 1 and 2 day travelcard) instead of the usual adult £5.40. For Zone 1-6, it will cap at £4.80 for those with the Railcard applied, instead of the usual adult £6.50. Very useful if you're a frequent visitor to London who travels lots each day whilst there but aren't an actual inhabitant who is there permanently. To get the discount applied, take your registered card (if it is not registered, this can be done free at the same time - the form takes a few minutes) to an underground station, with your railcard, and ask for the required form. Fill it in and the discount will be applied straightaway!