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TfL plans to end Day Travelcards | Information for UK based English language teaching centres

Published Bernice on Thursday, August 24, 2023 10:00 AM

TfL plans to end Day Travelcards

Transport for London (TfL) is phasing out paper tickets due to cost-saving pressures.

The sale of paper Day Travelcards is expected to end on or before 21 January 2024. Weekly paper travel cards are already no longer available.

English UK knows this is likely to complicate junior group travel in London. We will continue to lobby for paper Day Travelcards to be retained.

Before the change comes into place, we are sharing travel information to help members plan future group travel to London.

Pay-as-you go options

There are three pay-as-you-go options on TfL:

  • Contactless bank card/mobile payments
  • Standard Oyster cards
  • Visitor Oyster cards

It is possible to apply a Young Visitor (50%) discount for 11 – 15-year-olds to both types of Oyster cards. Unfortunately, the discount can only be applied to the cards if the young person is present at a ticket office, so this presents a logistical challenge.

Another challenge will be ensuring that students touch in and touch out at the start and end of each journey, to avoid additional charges.

Paper single and return tickets are still currently available at train stations, but the cost is significantly higher than pay-as-you-go fares.

Day trips into London: return tickets can include two tube journeys

It is possible to buy return tickets from a train station outside of London to a specific London Underground station.

The destination can be any underground station e.g. Canterbury to Covent Garden. This ticket covers the journey to the mainline terminus (eg. Kings Cross) and one tube journey to the destination station.

This may be more convenient for group trips, since tickets can be purchased in advance and it avoids the need to buy Oyster cards.

Passengers are allowed to start their return journey from ANY underground station within the same zone (zone 1 in our example).

Oyster card costs

When Day Travelcards are discontinued, Visitor Oyster cards will be the cheapest option for groups who are making multiple trips around London.

The cost is £5, compared to £7 for the standard Oyster card. This cost is non-refundable but the cards can be reused by other students if they are collected.

The minimum cost per Visitor Oyster card is currently £15 - £5 for the card fee (non-refundable) and £10 minimum credit.

£10 credit is sufficient for a day trip within zones 1 and 2 - the daily cap is currently £8.10 for adults and £4.05 for those with the Young Visitor discount set on the card.

Currently, you can purchase a maximum of £50 credit per card when ordering cards in advance, but cards can hold up to £90 credit.

How to order Visitor Oyster cards

Visitor Oyster cards must be ordered in advance from Visit Britain or TFL Visitor Shop. 

Note there is a delivery charge. They cannot be bought in person.

Standard Oyster cards can be purchased at any London station and many newsagents.

How to apply the Young Visitor discount to an Oyster card

The Young Visitor discount gives passengers aged 11-15 a 50% discount on adult fares.

The discount can be applied to any Oyster card at a TfL Visitor Centre or Underground station. The child must be present. ID may be required if TfL staff think the student looks older than 15. This is inconvenient for larger groups but is the only current option.

Young Visitor discounts can be set for up to 14 days only. For longer stays, the discount will need to be re-applied.

Topping up and reusing Oyster cards

You can top up Oyster cards at any TfL station and most London newsagents.

Note that you cannot register Visitor Oyster cards, so if a student loses a card the credit will also be lost. Staff will want to ensure cards are collected at the end of the trip or course. The credit on the card never expires.

You can check the balance on a card at a station ticket machine.

Free travel for under 11s

Children under 11 can travel free on London buses and trams. No ticket or photocard is required if they look 10 years or younger.

Up to four children under 11 can also travel free on London Underground/DLR/London Overground and some National Rail Services if accompanied by a fare-paying adult. They don't need a ticket - they will be allowed through ticket gates by staff. 

Contactless payments with non-UK bank cards

Adult students may wish to use their preferred contactless payment method e.g. debit card, Apple Pay, or Google Pay. Some non-UK cards are not accepted or may incur an overseas transaction fee. Students should check with their card issuer. To avoid fees, they may want to purchase an Oyster card.

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