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Oyster card capping on tube and buses

Hi, I will be travelling in zones 1&2. I am aware that single bus cap anywhere in London is £1.50 and multiple journeys by bus caps at £4.50 per day. But I am confused about tube caps. I will be taking the northern line from borough to kings cross and 3 buses in a day so how much should I pay in total? Is the bus cap added on top of the tube cap? Thanks a lot!

Posted by
19203 posts

I'm going to let one of our British (or UK-resident) posters answer the financial question because I am not 100% sure of the answer. However, if you're asking because you're trying to figure out exactly how much money to put on an Oyster Card for your trip, you don't need to worry about that. It's very, very easy to add money to an Oyster Card at a tube station if you find you're running short. I'd much rather do that multiple times than deal with trying to get a refund at the end of my visit.

Supposedly you can use a WiFi-enabled credit card instead of an Oyster Card, but I've never tried to use mine that way, and it would be awkward if you hopped on a bus and discovered at that point that your card wasn't working. Using you own credit card would relieve you of any need to guess the cost in advance.

Edited to add: I should have mentioned (thanks to Marco for the reminder in his post below) that multiple uses of credit card with foreign-transaction fees would potentially add considerably to the cost of tube fares. I think someone once reported that all of one day's charges are grouped before submission to the card company, but I'm not certain about that. Definitely if your trip is several days long, you'd end up paying daily card-usage fees. I have multiple no-fee cards, so this is the sort of thing I often forget about.

Posted by
26071 posts

Yup, £7.20 all day, zones 1 and 2 only - regardless of bus, train or Tube. If you don't use the Tube or train at all the bus only one day Oyster/contactless cap is £4.50. Or you can buy a one day Bus and Tram Pass for £5.00. Tubes and trains have zones - red London (TfL) buses aren't zoned within the limits of the zones; different fares beyond the zones.

Regarding single fares, there is first the bus.
From the official website https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/

Pay as you go at adult rate on buses and trams and our Hopper fare
gives you unlimited journeys for £1.50, made within one hour of
touching in. Hopper fare also applies to discounted rate travel.

Touch in using the same card or device on all journeys and you get our
Hopper fare automatically.

If you travel on Tube, DLR, London Overground, TfL Rail, Emirates Air
Line or River Bus services in between Hopper journeys, you'll be
charged a standard fare. The Hopper fare will still apply to any
further bus and tram journeys made within one hour of first touching
in.

Within Zones 1 and 2 only, single cash fare for Tube is £4.50, using Contactless or Oyster a single is £2.40 at any time.

Does this help?

For clarity: a bus cap only applies to buses only, and all with the same Contactless method or Oyster, per person. The daily Oyster cap is for all buses, Tubes, trams and trains used, and if you go beyond the zone the cap is higher, as is the single fare. Since the Oyster (and Contactless) cap includes buses, any bus cap is irrelevant by the time you have reached the Oyster cap.

From Borough (adjacent to Borough Market and the George) a very short walk is the heart of south London transportation - London Bridge, which is on the Northern Line Bank Branch, and the Jubilee Line Tube lines as well as trains from all over including Southern, Southeastern and Thameslink trains. Thameslink run a frequent service between London Bridge and Kings Cross/St Pancras on a fast and interesting route of Blackfriars (on the bridge over the Thames, the station is entirely glass and gives great views over to St Pauls and down towards Parliament, better if you are standing on the platforms but still excellent on-board the train), City Thameslink (a very short walk to St Pauls), with a great view on the right hand side for just a couple of seconds as the train dives underground from Blackfriars of the ancient and very yellow Apothecary Hall, then Farringdon and then either Kings Cross or St Pancras International (two adjacent stations across a road from each other) depending on the destination of the train, but more often St Pancras. London Bridge also has Riverboat service.

A word to the wise - all Londoners agree (or nearly all) - never, never, never ever change Tube trains at Bank. I could go into the whys and wherefores but just don't.

Posted by
865 posts

A word to the wise - all Londoners agree (or nearly all) - never, never, never ever change Tube trains at Bank. I could go into the whys and wherefores but just don't.

Ha! I agree one hundred percent. The last time my boyfriend was with me in London was 2000, and he still remembers the nightmare of changing at Bank.

Thanks for your replies everyone. One more question I had on the caps is between zones 1-8 the off peak cap is £13.30 and peak cap is £17. Let’s say for example I make 5 different tube journeys within zones 1-8. The cap would only stop at £17 if my first touch in is made in morning peak hour (6.30-9.30am) or evening peak (4.30pm-7.30pm) is that right? It doesn’t matter about the 2nd 3rd 4th 5th journey touch in time is. The cap is only decided by the first journey touch in time correct?

Posted by
26071 posts

sorry. That's not correct.

Any journey, no matter which number journey it is in your day, at peak time will cause you to cap at the peak rate.

It could be your first journey of the day at 5pm and you will peak cap.

You could start riding at 5am and have part of your journey in peak time and you will peak cap.

It doesn't care. If any part of any journey is at either peak time you will peak cap. If not, you won't.

By the way - Zone 8 is way out and not usually ever visited by tourists. Most people never get past Zone 6, where Heathrow is. In town, most tourists never go beyond Zones 1 and 2.

Where are you considering?

Thanks for your reply Nigel. So if one journey starts in evenings peak (16.00-1900) the maximum it rail cap will be £17 for zones 1-8? The furthest I will go is the Harry Potter studio.

Posted by
26071 posts

If you are contemplating the Leavesden Studio for Harry Potter and his mates, don't look at Zone 8. Take the train to Watford Junction and use the Watford Junction line of the table not Zone 8.

If you gave a bit more information, like where you will be traveling to and from and where you want to go you could have personalised and correct answers.

Posted by
4536 posts

Can't see this mentioned above (apologies if I've missed it) but if you have a contactless card then it potentially might work out cheaper than the Oyster card to use it directly because of weekly capping on a Monday-Sunday cycle. The system is clever enough to work out which zones to calculate for the cap and pay as you go for occasional trips beyond this.

If your visit is short, fairly evenly split over a calendar week, or the card you have has unattractive foreign currency charges (especially a fixed minimum fee) this might not work out cheaper though.

Posted by
576 posts

I suppose there are different attitudes to things, but if you are flying from NorthAmerca to stay in London for a week or so, then paying for accommodation, food and entrance fees, worrying about the cost of bus and tube fares using contactless or an Oyster card. is not worth the intellectual effort.