Oyster Card in London

By Vaughan Parker
This item appears on page 54 of the March 2013 issue.

For my trip to London, Nov. 15-20, 2012, I used an Oyster Card purchased by my daughter on a trip earlier in the year to get discounts on public transit.

The Oyster Card can be purchased at any train station, including at Heathrow Airport’s, at Travel Information Centres or (using a credit card) from a vending machine. You put down a refundable deposit of £5 (near $8) when you acquire the card and then load it with any amount you choose. I “topped it up” at both a window and a machine.

In the Underground, you simply touch your card at the entrance or exit gate. It can also be used on any bus.

Fares are cheaper using the card. A railroad official told me they save lots of money not having to print tickets.

Any amount left on the card, including the deposit, is fully refundable at any window. I did not turn mine in but brought it back to my daughter to use on her next trip.

If you don’t want the amount left on your card refunded, you can turn it in and the funds go to charity. I saw several boxes where you could leave your card.

Santa Barbara, CA

Visitors to England can buy an Oyster Card loaded with £10-£50, for a fee of £3, online at www.tfl.gov.uk. Residents of the US should allow at least 15 days before their trip to receive the card by mail.