London commuters and visitors will be able to hop on two buses for the price of one for journeys within an hour, following the launch of the new 'hopper fare' today.
The hopper fare allows bus or tram passengers who use a contactless bank card or Oyster card to pay for their journey to change from one bus or tram to another over a one-hour period for the £1.50 flat-rate cost of a single ticket.The new scheme, unveiled by London Mayor Sadiq Khan, means an estimated 30 million bus journeys now effectively become free every year.
Unfortunately the hopper fare currently only gets you your second bus or tram journey inside an hour free – you'll be charged again for subsequent bus journeys within the hour. However, Transport for London (TfL) is looking to address this (more on that below).
If you're a London commuter (or have traveled on the capital's transport network in the past), check out our guide on how to claim money bank from unused Oyster cards.
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Where will the hopper fare be applied?
You can use the hopper fare if you're switching from bus to bus, bus to tram, tram to bus or tram to tram within an hour.
It's also worth mentioning that the hopper fare will apply to customers who pay discounted pay-as-you-go fares (eg, the 'Bus & Tram Discount', 'Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount', 'Young Visitor' discount and some 'Zip Oyster' photocards).
How do I actually purchase it?
All you have to do is 'touch in' on a bus or tram using your contactless bank card or Oyster card (cash payments stopped being accepted on London buses two years ago). You will then qualify for the hopper fare if you use the same card to 'touch in' when jumping on a second bus or tram within an hour of initially 'touching in'.
Can I combine it with Tube journeys?
Sadly not, although work is going on behind the scenes to change that. From 2018, passengers who travel on a Tube or train between their two or more bus or tram journeys will also be eligible for the hopper fare.
And it's currently valid for only two bus or tram journeys within an hour?
Yes, that's the case as things stand, but TfL is working on rolling out unlimited bus and tram transfers within one hour (which is not currently possible due to limits with the existing technology). Plans are for TfL to provide unlimited bus and tram journeys in an hour from 2018.
Any other glitches to be aware of?
The hopper fare will not be applied at the time of travel to journeys by Oyster customers exiting the tram network at Wimbledon and subsequently catching a bus. Oyster customers who miss out in this way at Wimbledon will be sent automatic refunds.
'Hopper fare will make a difference to low income families'
Commenting on the launch of the hopper fare, Sadiq Khan said: "It wasn't right that Londoners had to pay twice simply to change buses, and the hopper will make 30 million journeys free every year. It will make a particular difference to low income families – many of whom still spend a large proportion of their wages on essential travel costs.
"Alongside my commitment to freeze all TfL fares for the next four years, the new hopper fare is a key part of my plans to make London a more affordable place for everyone who lives and works here."