Edís Central London Pub Directory

The London Travel Card

London Pubs, Bars & Taverns in Zone 1 from

PUBNETWORK.COMô and the barstool of Ed Vidunas



Posted November 2004


For any length of stay I recommend a travel card to get around the city. They are easy to buy and will speed your journey by bus, tube, Dockland Light Rail and British Rail. Having traveled in every corner of London since 1975 I think I have some authority on the subject.


There are really two types of cards available to visitors. The Travel Card is purchased in London from a number of venues. A Visitor Travel Card is available to Americans but they must be bought in the US through a travel agent prior to departure. I have concerns with this card as I will highlight below.


The Travel Card

The Travel Card bought in London has many variations. For most of us we are concerned with the one day and seven day cards. When you buy a card tell the agent what zone(s) you want. You will do fine with zone 1 but you could buy zone 1 & 2 for a wee bit more. Donít ask for zone 2 as that is all you will get and will not permit you to travel in Zone 1. Say zone 1 & 2. For the latest price and information see the site www.transportforlondon.co.uk. Fares increase each January. To avoid long line buy during off hours and up to 4 days in advance.


††††††††††† You no longer need a photo card for the seven day card. Photo cards are still required for monthly and annual passes. Here again, Transport for London can give you all the details.


The Visitor Travel Card

The Visitor Travel Card bought in the US is very limited and very expensive. It is available only for three days and gives six zones. Central London is vast and many people donít have the need to venture further out. I think you can do better with the regular Travel Card. Otherwise it is used the same. Go to the web-sites to check on the cost of traveling in London. The Visitor Card can be purchased without the use of a travel agent by going to BritRail. Their site is www.britrail.com. The 3 day Visitor card will cost about USD$60 whereas the 7 day Travel Card costs about USD$20.


Most travel books and newspaper stories tout the Visitor Card but almost never mention the other option. I think they cost too much for three days as you never get your moneyís worth. Most fares cost less that GBP£2 and the seven day card can save you money in the long run. Plan your trip and do the math.


Using the Card

At tube and rail stations simply insert the card into the turnstile slot but quickly move your hand to the top as the card will come out for retrieval. Keep tabs on this as some people look for inattentive suspects. They will grab and flee with your card. You need your card to enter and leave the underground system. All stations have system maps that show the zones as well as local are maps. Take the time to get your bearings.


On the newer enclosed buses you need only show you card to the bus driver on entering. Always use the rear doors when leaving a bus. These buses only pick-up and drop-off at marked stops.The hop-on buses are different. The only way on or off is the rear platform. Just hop on and find as seat. The conductor will make his way to you and you simply show your card. You can hop on or off at any place on the route but make sure the bus has stopped.


Your card will allow entry and exiting to national rail trains at all London terminals. You can take a train to other parts of London as long as your zone covers it. It helps to plan trips using maps that show the zones. It you have questions see a ticket agent.


All tube stations have information on zones, routes, fairs and buying tickets. Zones for the tube are not the same for bus routes, but pretty close. Bus drivers are very helpful and stations have agents that can help. As for the bus routes and zones look for information at the stops. Most stops have a system map in the shelter and other information on the pole. A number at the top of the pole tells the zone you are in. A route map is posted that shows major stops in the direction you are traveling as well prior stops.


Note, British Rail is a term long used in the UK but rail service is supplied by many companies such as South-Central and Midland Mainline.