How to save money on London tube and bus journeys as prices set to rise
The cost of living crisis isn’t going away anytime soon, and Londoners are looking at added woes.
The price of tube and bus fares will increase by an average of 5.9 percent – the biggest hike for more than 10 years.
For the second successive year, bus fares will rise 10p – taking them to £1.75 from March 5.
London Mayor, Sadiq Khan said of the price increases: ‘I froze TfL fares for five years from 2016 to make transport more affordable for millions of Londoners.’
‘But my hands have been tied since the pandemic by the strict conditions set by the government in the recent emergency funding agreement for TfL, which means fares have to be increase in London by the same amount as National Rail fares – 5.9 percent.’
‘This is a challenging time for our city, with a government that is not fully funding our public services, but I’m determined to step up so that we can continue building a greener, safer and fairer London for everyone.’
With that in mind, here are some ways you might be able to save a bit on travel in the capital…
Check if you’re eligible for any discounts
An obvious one to start, but to save money on fares, check if you’re entitled to discounted fares or schemes you might not be familiar with.
There are lots of different passes that you or someone in your household might be entitled to, and every bit of saving could help out.
The types of discounted passes and fares include:
- 18+ Student Oyster photocard – discounted travel if you’re 18 or over and studying or on a placement in London
- Freedom Pass – free or discounted travel if you’re over 66 or have a disability
- Veterans Oyster photocard – discounted or free travel for eligible veterans.
TfL have all the information and a list of other schemes for free and discounted travel online.
Connect your railcard to your Oyster
If you have one of the railcards that save money on national rail journeys, you can actually get a discount on some London travel, too.
The railcards – ranging from the 16-25 to the Armed Forces card – are well known for their discounts on wider national travel but many might not realise they offer discounts on the Tube, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth line.
Savings for many of the different railcards include up to one third off the price of off-peak travel.
A full list of railcards and their savings can be found online.
All you need to do is add your railcard to an Oyster. A member of staff can add your Railcard discount at:
- Tube, London Overground and Elizabeth line stations
- Oyster Ticket Stops
You’ll need to show your National Railcard when purchasing/connecting your Oyster.
Walk some of your journey
This one might feel counter-intuitive, but if you need to take the tube or a bus for part of your journey, you can still save by getting off and walking easier parts.
You’ll especially save money this way if you get off at a station and walk the rest of the journey by avoiding travel into Zone 1.
Travelling through or from zone 1 instantly bumps prices up, and if you’re doing this regularly, it will quickly add up.
Prices for a single fare through zone 1 are as follows:
- Zone 1 only – £2.50 off-peak, £2.50 peak
- Between zone 1 and 2 – £2.60 off-peak, £3.20 peak
- Between zone 1 and 3 – £2.90 off-peak, £3.60 peak
- Between zone 1 and 4 – £3.10 off-peak, £4.30 peak
- Between Zone 1 and 5 £3.40 off-peak, £5 peak
- Between Zone 1 and 6 £3.50 off-peak, £5.50 peak
Just looking at the price of travelling between zone 2 and 3 as comparison, this is £1.70 off-peak and £2 peak.
So, if you can plan your journey to walk the rest of the journey without going into zone 1 and you’re coming from zone 3, you’re looking at savings of up to £1.60 per single fare during peak times. In a five-day work week, that’s £8, and £32 a month saved.
If you decide to walk parts of your journey, a way of adding to your savings is looking for apps and initiatives which reward exercise.
For example, if you have Vitality’s health insurance app, the steps you take each week amount to rewards. If you walk enough, you’ll get free treats like a cinema ticket or a free coffee from Caffe Nero.
Work out the best fare for you
Previously, before Covid inspired many companies to adopt hybrid working, a travel card was considered the best option for most.
The 7 Day Travelcard, for example, would guarantee seven days worth of travel for the price of five. So workers would be able to travel for leisure and work all week, paying for just five days.
However, that might not be the best value anymore.
Generally, pay as you go with the weekly caps do not exceed the price of a 7 Day Travelcard and it is likely to prove better value. With pay as you go, you only pay for days on which you travel, which in some weeks might turn out to be less than you intend.
Visitor Oyster Cards
If you have friends or family visiting London, or you’re planning on coming down for a short trip, a Visitor Oyster Card is a good money-saver as it allows travel around the city and offers other discounts at London restaurants, shops and entertainment venues.
Claim for refunds
When you’ve been delayed more than 30 minutes on a journey with London Underground or the Elizabeth Line, you can claim back your fare.
Details for claiming can be found online.
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