Tag Archives: Oyster Card

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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Bloody Embarrassing: Olympics 2012

London will host the 2012 Olympics. Does anyone else see the elephant in the room?
China’s coming out party was the 2008 Beijing Olympics. London has the dubious honor of following this unprecedented extravaganza.

First thought:  also ran
Second thought: world economic bust
Third thought: why couldn’t Paris have won?

So the London Olympic powers that be, such as LOCOG (London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games), have scratched their heads to find a workable angle to avoid looking like Atlanta following Barcelona.

Here are the facts:
•    London can’t out-glitz Beijing. Not going to happen. Ostentatious exuberance is just not part of British fabric. To be British is to be reserved, stoic, controlled. Over the top fireworks just aren’t in keeping with British National culture.
•    Where-o-where has all the money gone?  The £ 2 billion funding for the Organizing Committee was earmarked to come from the private sector through sponsorship, media rights and merchandise sales. But, the huge shortfall is falling in the government’s lap. Oh, bloody dear, the government is currently busy hosting their own MP EWH (economic witch hunt).  Bad timing matched by bad timing.
•    For the bloke walking down the Strand, his #1 concern is “don’t embarrass us”.  As one Brit commented referring to the Millennium Bridge project: “our track record on completing construction projects on time has been [expletive deleted] poor.”

July 27th will mark “3 years to go” until the opening ceremony. I was in London last week to document progress.

80,000 seat Olympic Stadium

80,000 seat Olympic Stadium

Construction is on schedule. The stadium is looking like a stadium. The aquatic center is coming along. Piers are planted for the Village.  So, everything is hunky-dory, right?

Wrong.
Transportation is a major, major, major issue. OK. You get the point. Huge issue.
•    Heathrow Airport, the tired ol’ girl, will have to carry the bulk of international visitors. When I asked Adrian Bassett of LOCOG if there were plans to expand and renovate the facilities, his facial expression said: “What’s wrong with Heathrow?” Other than BA’s terminal 5, Adrian, everything. His response was “We have four other airports around London to carry traffic.”  And, how many international visitors, other than Europeans, will be arriving via Luton Airport?
•    The Tube is good news and bad news.  The District and Circle lines are WWII vintage. In summary…worn out.  Keep in mind, Stratford, the main Olympic venue, is located in far east London off the Central and DLR (Docklands Light Rail) lines. The cost for a single subway ride is excessive at £ 4.00 ($6.38). The Oyster Card provides some relief, but how will visitors know to buy it? Car traffic will be prohibited (that’s the good news). Mass transit, walking and biking are the means to get to and from the complex. Sure, I can see Mr. and Mrs. USA peddling over from Covent Gardens. What we have here is a heart attack in progress.
The Heathrow Express between the airport and London Paddington is awesome and so is the cost at £ 20.00 ($31.84) one way. I almost choked. Imagine a family of four or, be conservative, a couple having a $60.00+ ride just to get to a station where they will need to spend more money to go to a hotel or an event location.
Weekend Tube maintenance turns a subway ride into an X-box labyrinth game. Line after line is shut down for repair. Only the skilled find their way back home. Those without Tube Maps will be found on Monday morning wandering the halls in a starvation coma.

London will give a bully good show on opening day. I am convinced. OK. I’m hopeful for the sake of our cousins across the pond. As Paul Deighton, LOCOG Chief said, “We’ll be better by being less flashy. We’ll employ ‘inverse one-upmanship’”.  Paul, do you really think the world will buy that?

In the face of adversity, who can pull it off better than the Brits? Winston, where are you when we need you?

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