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Transport in London

Public transport

Oyster

You'll pay for journeys on trains, buses and the Underground using an Oyster card. This is a smartcard that you load up with money in advance. When you touch it to the ticket barriers at the start and end of your journey, the fare will be deducted from the money on the card automatically. If you have a contactless credit or debit card, you can use this instead of an Oyster card. However, you might be charged extra fees if your card was issued outside the UK.

You can buy tickets without an Oyster or contactless card, but this is much more expensive and isn't available on buses.

Capping

When you pay with an Oyster card, there is a daily cap on how much you are charged. Once you have paid a certain amount, you won't be charged for any more journeys you make. The level of the cap depends on when and where you travel: it's lower if you travel at off-peak times, don't go through central London or only travel by bus.

When you pay with a contactless card, there is a weekly cap. This works in the same way as the daily cap, but it limits how much you will be charged in each week (measured from Monday to Sunday).

Travelcards

Travelcards let you pay a fixed amount for unlimited travel within certain transport zones. They are available weekly, monthly or anually, with an annual travelcard being the best value. The more zones your travelcard covers, the more it will cost, and you'll pay more for a card that covers zone 1 (central London).

Travelcards also include unlimited bus travel in any zone. If this is all you need, you can buy a bus pass for less.

You can get 30% off the cost of travelcards with a Student Oyster card, which costs £10.

The Underground (Tube), Overground and Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

Although these three railway systems are slightly different, they have the same fares and often share stations.

The fare is based on zones, starting from Zone 1 in central London. How much you pay will depend on how many zones you pass through and whether you travel through zone 1. You can see the full fare list on the Transport for London website.

National Rail Trains

These trains are part of the UK's national railway network, not the London public transport network. That means that the fare might be different to a similar journey on the Underground. However, you can still use your Oyster or contactless card to pay your fare, and travelcards cover National Rail trains in the same way as the Underground.

Buses

There is a flat fare of £1.50 for bus journeys in London. This means you'll pay the same fare whether you take a bus halfway across the city or just hop on for one stop. If you need to take more than one bus to complete your journey, you'll have to pay again.

You can't pay in cash on London buses: you have to have an Oyster card or contactless debit or credit card.

Cycle hire

London has a cycle hire scheme which lets you pick up a bike from a docking station on the street and return it to any other docking station in the city. This map shows how much of London the cycle hire scheme covers.

It costs £2 to get access to the hire bikes for a day. After that, journeys of up to half an hour are free, and you'll pay an extra £2 for every extra half hour you have the bike out for.

If you use the scheme a lot, you can pay for a full year's access instead of paying £2 each day. This costs £90. You'll still have to pay for any journeys longer than half an hour.

Taxis and minicabs

London's 'black cab' taxis are an expensive way to travel, especially if you are on your own and can't split the fare. Details of the fares are available on the Transport for London website..

Minicabs can be a cheaper alternative. These have to be booked, normally on the phone or online, rather than hailed from the street. Minicabs in London aren't allowed to use a meter: instead, you'll agree the cost when you book.

Driving

Driving in London can be difficult, as the roads are very busy. If you want to drive into central London, you can expect to pay a lot for parking.

In some parts of central London, you have to pay an extra fee to drive betewen 7am and 6pm from Monday to Friday. This is called the Congestion Charge. It's £11.50 a day, or £10.50 if you set up automatic payment.