People who currently buy a weekly travelcard will no longer need to do so from next week as TfL is introducing a weekly price-cap on Oyster pay-as-you-go fares for rail and tube travel.
At the moment, people who use pay as you go on contactless cards are never charged more than the equivalent cost of buying a daily or weekly travelcard, and this already applies to Oyster cards used on buses and trams, but it’s taken a while to adapt the Oyster system to work across all the various rail services in London. The introduction of the weekly cap for Oyster on tube and rail had been hoped to be launched in 2018, but it’s taken longer than expected to complete the upgrades.
However, from Monday 27th September, the weekly price cap will go live for train or tube passengers as well.
Although usage by Oyster, at 30 percent of journeys is declining compared to contactless cards, it’s highly unlikely that it will vanish anytime soon, not least because not everyone has a bank account with a contactless card to replace it. Hence the requirement for ongoing upgrades to the system, such as the weekly cap.
Although there’s now no difference in cost between a pay as you go weekly cap and buying a weekly travelcard, there’s a flexibility improvement as people no longer need to buy a weekly travelcard, but also if for an unexpected reason, someone were off work later in a week, they aren’t wasting money on having paid for a travelcard they then didn’t use.
The weekly cap is calculated for journeys using contactless (card or device) or an Oyster card that start on a Monday and end on a Sunday.
Weekly capping is already available for those using pay as you go with contactless, and for Oyster customers who only travel on bus and tram services across London. The upgrade to include rail and tube required some technical development and discussions with the train operating companies before it could be switched on.
Welcoming the TfL upgrade, Andy Bagnall, Director General of the Rail Delivery Group said that “We want to be able to offer this type of flexible ticketing to people in towns and cities beyond the capital, including tap-in, tap-out with a price cap for commuters, which is why we have long called for government to undertake wholesale reform of the regulations that underpin the fares system.”
Weekly capping for those with Zip cards and other discounts is expected to launch during 2022 following further technical development. As well as providing weekly capping, the new technology will also make it easier for taps that have been accidentally missed to be refunded.
In other news, ridership on public transport continues to recover – and last week, almost four million different people travelled on the tube, compared to around five and a half million people a week before the pandemic. This past Wednesday (22nd Sept) reached the highest weekday level since before the pandemic, with 2.4 million tube journeys.
For City workers, journeys on the Waterloo and City line saw around 60,000 journeys a week made in September, compared to around 15,000 journeys when the line reopened in June.
Meanwhile, bus ridership is currently at around four and a half million journeys a day across London.