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Beat London's Tube and bus fare hikes

Darryl Chamberlain
Sub-editor
9 November 2012

London Tube and bus travellers will face above-inflation fare rises in the new year — but transport users in the capital can beat the hikes by buying early or changing how they pay.

London Mayor Boris Johnson announced this week that fares would be rising by an average of 4.2% from 2 January.

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The average rise — the same as the January 2013 increase for National Rail season ticketholders — means some fares will go up by more than 4.2% while others will go up by less.

Most London travellers pay for their trips using pre-paid Oyster cards, with fares decided by how many zones they pass through. A single zone 1 Tube fare will rise from £2.00 to £2.10 from January, while bus fares will go up from £1.35 to £1.40 per journey.

One set of fares won't be rising — the daily maximum for passengers using Oyster cards are being frozen. This is to persuade people to switch from more expensive paper one day Travelcards, which offer the same benefits.

Here's a sample of how the rises will affect other passengers on London Underground, London Overground and the Docklands Light Railway.

January fares (current prices in brackets)
Zones Peak day return Oyster peak cap Weekly Travelcard Monthly Travelcard Annual Travelcard
Zones 1-2 £5.60 (£5.40) £8.40 (£8.40) £30.40 (£29.20) £116.80 (£112.20) £1,216.00 (£1,168.00)
Zones 1-4 £7.60 (£7.20) £10.60 (£10.60) £43.60 (£41.80) £167.50 (£160.60) £1,744.00 (£1,672.00)
Zones 1-6 £10.00 (£9.60) £15.80 (£15.80) £55.60 (£53.40) £213.50 (£205.10) £2,224.00 (£2,144.00)

Other fares are available in tables at the end of this document.

Beat the rises

Here are our top tips:

  • Switch to Oyster. If you're one of the minority who pay for travel in London with paper tickets, fare costs are even more punishing.
  • Buy tickets before 2 January. The fare rises take effect on the first working day of the new year. But if you buy a weekly, monthly or annual ticket before that, you'll effectively be getting 2013 travel at 2012 prices.
  • Is it worth getting a weekly or monthly ticket? Add up what you spend on travel each day, including weekends and nights out. You may save by getting a weekly or daily Travelcard, which gives you the freedom of nearly all London's public transport, especially if you make lots of different journeys in a week.
  • Trade up to an annual ticket. Annual Travelcards are 40 times the cost of weekly ones so if you use them throughout the year you save. Make sure it's loaded on your Oyster card, for cheaper travel on the Tube and trains outside your zones. Also see if your employer will offer an interest-free loan towards the cost.
  • Over 60? A new Oyster photocard offers free travel for all Londoners over 60 on all Tube, bus, DLR and Overground services, and National Rail trains after 9.30am on weekdays. It costs £10, and is designed to help the age group who can no longer get Freedom Passes.
  • Do you have a railcard? If you have a railcard that you already use on National Rail — such as a 16-25, Family & Friends or a Disabled Persons Railcard — you can get this loaded onto your Oyster for cheaper off-peak travel in London.

Johnson says he managed to keep the bus and Tube rise down to 1% above July's 3.2%% retail prices index (RPI) inflation rate by securing an extra £96 million of Government funding.

But Bob Crow, general secretary of the RMT transport union, says: "We believe there should be a policy of freezing fares to recognise the tough times people are facing, to increase the use of public transport and to help boost the economy."

The mayor also announced charges for his "Boris bike" Barclays Cycle Hire scheme will double, with daily hire going up from £1 to £2, weekly access rising from £5 to £10 and yearly membership going up from £45 to £90.

On the "Boris bike" scheme, the majority of trips are made within the free 30-minute usage period. Additional charges for late return, non-return and bicycle damage will not increase.

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