How to Use the London Oyster Card to ride the Tube

The London Underground, affectionately known as The Tube, is one of the longest (250 miles of track), oldest (started in mid-1850’s) and busiest (more than 1 billion passenger journeys in 2007) in the world.  Since 2000, Transport for London (TFL)  is responsible for London’s transport system.

With just a few simple instructions, you’ll be able to negotiate The Tube and quickly arrive at your favorite destinations.

Let’s get started.

How to Purchase an Oyster Card:

The Oyster Card is TFL’s smart-card. You can use it on buses, light rail as well as the Tube.

As a visitor, you can buy a card before you leave your home country from various overseas travel agents. Just check the TFL website at  http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ Since the money you put on the card never expires, you can use it on your next visit.

If you don’t buy your Oyster Card prior to your arrival, it’s not a problem. You can purchase an Oyster Card from any of the ticket booths, kiosks or any of the 4,000 authorized agents around London.  Remember, there’s a £ 3 refundable charge for the card.  A 7 day travel card gives you unlimited travel while in London.

How to Interpret the Map:

Now that you’ve purchased your Oyster Card, let’s go somewhere. Small maps are free at any of the Tube stations. Be sure to pick up several and stash them in pockets, wallets and purses.  They come in handy.

Each line has a different color. For example, the Jubilee line is a gray color. The Circle Line is yellow.  The direction (east or west, north or south) is indicated by the name of the final stop.

There are large maps within the stations to help you locate the stop you want, the platform and the direction so you can get on the correct train.

How to Touch in and out:

Now that you have your Oyster Card and a map, the next thing we want to do is enter and leave the station. This is known as touching in and out. This is a snap.

Just place the Oyster card on the yellow pad or dot that is on the turnstile. Your card will be read electronically. The doors will open and allow you to pass through.

Note:  As long as you don’t exit a station, you can transfer from line to line without any additional charge.

If you have any problems with your Oyster Card just call the 24 hour Hotline at 0845-330-9876. Someone will be happy to assist you.

Enjoy your time in London and riding on the London Tube.

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