How can you save money on London's subways and buses?
You ask, we respond.
Never walk up to a Tube (subway) station and buy a ticket the old-fashioned way, unless you're willing to pay an outrageous £4 ($6.40) for a one-way subway journey.
With a little inside knowledge, you can save more than 50 percent off of walk-up prices. Here's how:
If you're traveling in London for up to three days, get an Oyster Card, a pre-paid electronic pass. We've done the math for you, and it's the best value for the typical American visitor.
As of January 2010, a one-way subway trip at any time of day starts at $2.87 if you use an Oyster Card. Two round-trip journeys downtown will cost you approximately $9. That's a savings of more than half off of the cost of the tickets purchased the old-fashioned way.
Try to figure out how much travel you will do beforehand and only put that amount on. Note that London is divided into nine transport pricing zones. The main tourist attractions fall within Zones 1 and 2. So if you buy an Oyster Card, get it for Zones 1 and 2 or zones 1 through 4. You probably won't go further out from the city's center than that.
Ask for an Oyster Card "top-up" (or pay-as-you-go) card. You can't get the unlimited one-day, weekly, or monthly cards unless you have a U.K. mailing address. You have to pay in-person at subway station or a newsstand. (No online purchases for a foreigner like you!) There's a non-refundable deposit of £3 ($4.77).
TravelCards are combination passes that work on the tube, bus, over ground city rail, and tram. If you intend to travel around London for more than 3 days, you'll find that a seven-day TravelCard is a better value per trip than a seven-day Oyster Card. You will need a passport photo and I.D to purchase a weekly or monthly TravelCard. As of January 2010, prices for a seven-day TravelCard covering zones 1 and 2 is a £26 ($41). You can buy these paper tickets from newsstands.
Bus & tram passes are the cheapest of all options
These paper-ticket passes can only be used on buses and trams. But while buses can be slow in heavy traffic, their network covers the entire city. Plus the passes are far cheaper daily (£3.50, or $5.60) and weekly (£13.80, or $22). Purchase these at bus depots or from newsstands.
Kids go free
Children under 11 may travel without charge on buses and trams at all times, and they can travel free on the Tube and some London over ground services when accompanied by an adult (with a maximum of 4 children per adult).
Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.