Annex 6 Case Studies of IC Cards for Public Transport

Oyster card, London, UK

Oyster card is a prepaid public transport IC card used in London for all buses, tube lines, trams, light rail, and some national rail services. The uniqueness of this card is to charge the lowest fare for any trip within London compared to the cash fare. In addition, Oyster fares for some services are set to give discounts to trips during off-peak period. Table 1 compares the Oyster fare on buses with the cash single fare. Table 2 shows general Oyster and cash single fares on the tube and light rail, and through to London Overground, including travel in Zone 1. This also shows the discounts for Oyster card users during off-peak periods.

Cash fares are not accepted on buses in the Pay-Before-You-Board area in central London. Therefore, passengers must buy a ticket from a roadside ticket machine before boarding if they do not have an Oyster card or a valid ticket. This prevents the delay of buses caused by on-board fare collection.

Table 1 Oyster and Cash Single Fares on Buses in London

Oyster Single Fares Cash Single Fares
Adult 16+, New Deal, and Bus and Tram Discount
£0.90 £0.45 £2.00

Table 2 Comparison of Oyster and Cash Single Fares on Tube/DLR

Zones Oyster Single Fares Cash Single Fares
Monday to Friday 7:00-19:00 All other times including holidays
Zone 1 only £1.50 £1.50 £4.00
Zones 1-2 £2.00 £1.50 £4.00
Zones 1-4 £2.50 £2.00 £4.00
Zones 1-6 £3.50 £2.00 £4.00
Zones 1-7 £4.50 £3.00 £5.50
Zones 1-9 £5.50 £3.00 £7.00

Note: Fares shown for Adult Zone 1 travel
Source: Transport for London

Though there are various other discount tickets available for public transport use in London, including 1-day Travelcards, 1-day bus passes, and 7-Day and longer Travelcards, the system ensures that Oyster cards always charge the lowest fare. It is also possible to store 7-day and longer period travelcards and bus passes on an Oyster card as well as other tickets for travel around London. These can be obtained online, or at ticket offices and ticket machines. Discount fares are set during the off-peak period, which is effective in shifting trips from the congested peak period to off-peak.

Oyster Card Machine on Bus

Oyster Card Machine at Railway Gate

Oyster Card Machine in Shops

Source: Transport for London, Transport for London

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