Travelcard vs Oyster 2013

We're coming to London for 8 days. We'll be going to Stratford upon Avon and Leavesden Studios on two separate days. The rest of our time will probably be in Central London. Since we're going past zone 8, it seems like we need an Oyster Card but we want to take advantage of the 2 for 1 vouchers. We know to buy Travelcards from National Rail, but really can't figure out what combination of cards is best. No children involved. Should we do a 7 day travel if it doesn't cover Zone 8? Would an Oyster combined with 1 day Travelcards be better?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

An Oyster card won't help you with a trip to Stratford-upon-Avon. If by "Leavesden Studios" you mean the Potter studio then a PAYE Oyster Card can be used if you tap in at Euston or Harrow & Wealdstone and tap out at Watford Junction (and v/v) but it is easy to get train tickets for both of those journeys and have a 7 day paper Travelcard from a train Company with the required "Crows Feet" railways logo on them. You will require photocards and passport type photos. Watford is not in Zone 8, it is Watford Junction. It has its own Oyster zone beyond what is zone 9.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

Even if you are not using the Travelcard for a day or two, although you still need to get to and from the stations and probably use it in the evening when you return, the 7 day Travelcard is cheaper than 5 one day ones.

Posted by Amy
Dallas, USA
7 posts

So do I need to buy a completely separate rail ticket to Stratford upon Avon? Our plan is to get to the Marylebone Station and then purchase a rail ticket to Stratford upon Avon. (I'm assumming the rail coverage on an Oyster/Travelcard does not cover any costs to Stratford upon Avon from Marylebone then.) If so, should I buy this in advance...do the costs go up as time runs down? do I need to worry about trains being sold out? Or does it make sense to just have a Travelcard for Zone 1-2, buy rail tickets to Stratford upon Avon and Harry Potter Studio and not mess with an Oyster at all? (though we're landing at Heathrow and imagine we'll need an Oyster to get to hotel since we won't have Travelcard at that point) Really appreciate your help Nigel!

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

Hi Amy I'm sorry I'm short on time to answer today, I'm graveyard shift all week and time is tight. When is your trip? If I were in your shoes I would probably get Oysters on arrival so that you have transport to and from Heathrow, and transport to and from Watford Junction for the connect to the bus to Hogwarts. The Travelcards are for calendar days, not 24 hours (x7) from when you get them. "Advance" tickets to Stratford will be cheaper than walk-up "Cheap Day" or "Anytime" tickets, as low as around £6 to £10 each way pp. By the way, I have a little attachment to Big-D, little-a, double-matchsticks, a-s. Met my wife in Big D; lived in Oak Lawn and University Park and Addison in a former life. A big Howdy to Big D.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

You will need to get to Marylebone for the trip to Stratford upon Avon; to get to Marylebone depending on where you are staying and what the weather is you can walk or bus or Tube. If your Travelcard is valid at the time you can use it to get to Marylebone but it won't go outside the zones on the card (1&2?). If you don't have a valid Travelcard that day you can use the Oyster Card, but again only as far as Marylebone. On the trip to the land of wizards and muggles you can get the train from Euston to Watford Junction; many but by no means all London Midland trains call there. Or, if you are on the Bakerloo Line, a slower but maybe easier route is northbound Bakerloo line to Harrow & Wealdstone and change onto either a London Midland or Southern train to Watford Junction. All northbound London Midland and Southern trains at Harrow & Wealdstone also call at Watford Junction. Or, if you are in Kensington or Earls Court the Southern train from East Croydon or Clapham Junction to Milton Keynes stops at Watford Junction. All those journeys to Watford can be done with a Pay as you Go Oyster with sufficient credit on it. Remember on any Oyster train journey you must tap in and tap out or you will be charged the maximum possible journey.

Posted by Amy
Dallas, USA
7 posts

What a small world Nigel! Okay, I think we'll do the 7 Day Travelcard with an Oyster for the out of zone days as you've suggested. Both appear to be used in the exact same places (except the Oyster will take me outside Zone 1-2.) But how do I grasp when to use tube/rail/bus or even boat? (Thanks for the tap in/out advice...read that before but never read the why!)

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
781 posts

Use the tfl travel planner is the short answer to modes of transport; perhaps most important on the weekends when it will take any engineering closures into account. Boats are not included in the travel card, but you get a third off the fare. As to travel out of the zone of your travel card, you have the possibility if buying a ticket from the zone boundary to your destination. Probably not of use for Stratford, but may save a bit for Watford Junction.

Posted by Amy
Dallas, USA
7 posts

If I get on the Tube with my Zone 1 Travelcard and don't get off until Zone 4 -- what happens? I'm not trying to sneak around, but I'll be a tourist -- lost, confused and tired :) Do I just get off and pay for a single ticket for the difference or will I be punished with a fine or ...?

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1699 posts

If you get caught you'll get hit with a £40 instant penalty.

Posted by Amy
Dallas, USA
7 posts

I understand how to use the tfl journey planner for just tube rides, but does it compare tube to say bus options? And am I right in understanding that buses pass through all zones even if my Travelcard is for Zone 1 only? You guys have all been really helpful -- thank you so much for answering all these mundane questions. Our public transport in Dallas appears non existent compared to yours so it makes my head spin a bit. But it's coming together now!

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1699 posts

No, you can travel on buses in zones 5 and 6 free if you have a 1-4 zone travelcard. A zone 1 travelcard will only allow you to travel in zone 1 on any mode.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

you can travel on buses in zones 5 and 6 free if you have a 1-4 zone travelcard. A zone 1 travelcard will only allow you to travel in zone 1 on any mode. That' not how I remember it. From the official TfL webpage at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/tickets/14415.aspx it says Travelcards Use Travelcards on buses in all zones Use on trams if your Travelcard includes Zones 3, 4, 5 or 6 Is there somewhere where it shows more restriction, Philip?

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

If you get caught you'll get hit with a £40 instant penalty. To elaborate on that, the actual fine is £80, reduced to £40 if paid within 21 days. The other problem on the Tube is if you try to put a ticket or travelcard through the exit barrier and it is not valid the barrier will not open and it will go red and make a noise, thereby identifying you to the staff working the barrier and any Revenue Agents or Police observing the gate line.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
781 posts

Put a bit of pay-as-you-go credit on the Oyster for any deliberate or inadvertent trips out of validity of the travelcard part. You can get any unused credit back with the deposit in the card before you leave.

Posted by Philip
London, United Kingdom
1699 posts

I think the "use in all zones" simply means "yes, you can use Travelcards on buses".

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
683 posts

There used to be a zone 1 for buses and different fares depending how far you travelled, but since they introduced the flat fare a few years ago that has all gone and you can, for example, use a zone 1/2 travelcard on any TfL route bus (since it is all the same fare, it doesn't really matter where you get on/off). At least that is what I've been doing for a few years and it seems OK - perhaps I've been fare dodging? Amy - I haven't found an easy way to get the TfL journey planner to always " compare tube to say bus options". It seems to default to one system or the other if it "recognises" the stations/stops you enter. However, if you use the enter by adddress option instead of a particular station/stop, it does sometimes give different tube and bus options/combinations (plus DLR/tram of course, if relevant). It still seems a bit hit and miss though. Someone else, hopefully, will know if there is a trick to get it always to do what you want.

Posted by Marco
Oxford, United Kingdom
781 posts

You can delete a mode of transport from the tfl planner search if you want to see for example if there is a direct bus (even if slow) rather than a connecting journey involving the underground. Look in the 'advanced' section.

Posted by Amy
Dallas, USA
7 posts

Thanks everyone for your help. I'm starting a new thread regarding phone usage from the US to England if anyone has any advice...please look for it under "General Europe"

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

I've had a good root around and wish that I'd been able to find when the change has been made - but can't. Clearly in the past as long as any sort of Travelcard was held all red buses in the normal zones were included. It is now clear that in order to use a bus with a Travelcard now - it must be valid for the zone(s) in which you ride. Sorry for any confusion. That's what happens when they move the goalposts .... grrrr