The recently announced plans to declare Fridays an off-peak day all day for tube and train passengers will kick in next week, the Mayor of London has announced.

Photo by Steph Gray on Unsplash

Pay as you go with contactless and Oyster fares on Tube and rail across London and parts of the Southeast will be off-peak all day on Fridays from 8th March until 31st May 2024 in a trial to see if it encourages people to travel more on Fridays.

Since the pandemic caused a surge in working from home, Transport for London (TfL) has seen a big drop-off in traffic on Fridays as more people who can work from home choose to do so. Apart from the impact on TfL’s income, there’s a wide impact on the hospitality industry, which traditionally relied on Fridays for end-of-week socialising and has suffered from the lack of people in town.

To see if it boosts Friday travel, TfL and the train companies have now agreed to a trial whereby all pay-as-you-go journeys made using contactless and Oyster (with the exception of journeys to/from Heathrow Airport via Zone 1) will be off-peak on Fridays. The daily cap will also be amended during the trial to cap at an off-peak rate on Friday, helping those who make multiple journeys through the day save even more.

The trial will also see 60+ London Oyster photocard and Older Persons’ Freedom Passes allowed to be used on TfL and National Rail services before 9am, helping Londoners with these passes to travel for free all day on Fridays.

Bus and Tram fares across London will not change during the trial as they are set at a flat rate of £1.75 regardless of the time of travel.

Even without any impact on London’s cultural venues, the trial provides a modest fare cut for people who are required to commute to work by train on Fridays (assuming they don’t use a travelcard), and those tend to be people at the lower end of the salary ladder, often working in services who can’t work from home on Fridays.

To fund the trial, £24 million has been allocated from the Mayor of London’s recently approved budget, which will be used to compensate TfL and rail operators for lower fares revenue during the trial and cover the costs for running it.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “I’m doing all I can to support Londoners through the cost-of-living crisis and to support London’s economic recovery. This includes freezing TfL fares for another year to make transport more affordable for millions of Londoners and to encourage more people to use our transport network. But I want to do more.

“Encouraging more people back into the city on Fridays could give a much-needed boost to the hospitality, business and leisure sectors, supporting London’s wider economic growth as we continue to build a fairer, greener and more prosperous London for everyone. So, I’m making a call to all Londoners: to help London keep roaring back – Let’s Do Fridays!”

The off-peak Friday Fares trial only applies to pay-as-you-go fares paid using Oyster or Contactless payment cards. Single paper tickets and paper Day Travelcards will still have peak-hour restrictions during the trial. Season tickets will not change due to the trial, as there is no off-peak option.

During the trial, TfL will use a combination of public transport ridership data, research into customer perceptions, and feedback from the business community to monitor the impact of off-peak Fridays for the duration of the trial and evaluate the cumulative impact at the end of the trial. An assessment of the revenue impact of the trial will be part of the post-trial analysis, considering the overall net impact on ridership and revenue to TfL.

Midweek ridership on the London Underground is now at up to 85% compared to pre-pandemic levels and is continuing to grow, but Friday ridership remains lower at around 73%.  As a scheme to boost ridership, the trial will need to work out if the extra revenue from the increased number of passengers offsets the loss of peak-fare revenue from the three-quarters of passengers who are already commuting on Fridays.

If nothing else, the tradition of seeing people hovering around the tube and train stations waiting for the off-peak fares to kick in at 9:30am will be abolished on Fridays, which will help reduce crowding on those first off-peak trains on Friday mornings.


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  1. Rajesh Dewan says:

    Helpful initiative but don’t understand why for 60+ London Oyster photocard and Older Persons’ Freedom Passes they aren’t allowed to travel as they used to be able to for free at any time……
    You’d have more people travelling and contributing to businesses at stations and in London

    • Keith says:

      I imagine that 60+ oyster card was originally intended to help those who have retired. Not being able to use it normally before 9am weekdays is probably desired to encourage those people to travel at a later time, thereby reducing congestion.

      Arguably if those people are still working then they can probably afford to pay the normal fare to travel before 9am, like the majority of people have to.

      There’s always a risk that one day someone will decide that instead of getting this benefit at 60 it’ll only be available when you reach state pension age.

    • Patrick says:


      It’s not merely a risk, it’s was in the TFL financial plan that the Oyster at aged 60 will be gradually phased out – – unless this has somehow been changed since reported.

      “December 2021 – Plans linked to a new government / TfL funding will see the 60+ Oyster Card gradually phased out until the concession disappears entirely next decade. The phasing-out process will gradually see the age of eligibility rise. This won’t affect current 60+ Oyster Card (or Freedom Pass) holder but it will affect people in their 50s. ”

  2. Brian Butterworth says:

    If I was TfL and I had spare £25m I would use it to fix those Central Line train motors.

    • ianVisits says:

      You could have £250 million and it still wont fix the problem of a lack of motors to put into the trains and a lack of experienced Central line train engineers to do the work.

  3. Hue says:

    So does this apply to all contactless payments, including Reading, Luton, Stansted and Guildford?

    • ianVisits says:

      Only if TfL takes over the serivces in Guildford and Luton.

    • Edvid says:

      Only within the London-centric PAYG area* (which does not include Stansted Airport or Guildford; nor does it go beyond Luton Airport Parkway aside from the DART link to the airport, which incurs a £4.90 flat-rate add-on).

      Heathrow / Gatwick Express journeys are exempt, as are Elizabeth line / Piccadilly line journeys to/from Heathrow involving Zone 1.

      [* As set out here: ]

  4. Peter Smith says:

    I hope that the tube gates and the bus touch-in machines will have been re-programmed so that they work before 9 am with the Freedom Pass on Fridays for duration of the trial!

  5. Chz says:

    “The daily cap will also be amended during the trial to cap at an off-peak rate on Friday…”

    Daily caps are only cheaper off-peak past Zone 6. As I take bus, rail, and tube, I’m still going to hit the daily cap and my daily cap doesn’t change off-peak. Can’t say it’s luring me in.

  6. Jane says:

    How much is the daily capped fare?

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