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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Will it work? 

Today I used my new Travelcard for the first time.

Not a particularly exciting announcement, I must admit. However, this year I have bought a six zone Travelcard on Oyster (see below) rather than a paper ticket.

I have seen other people use Oyster cards at Orpington. I have seen them use them on the bus. I have used a pre-pay Oyster card on buses and tubes before but this is the first time I have used one that contains a season ticket.

So, I had two questions on my mind when I arrived at the station this morning:

1) Will it work?
2) Have I just wasted £1710 (yes, it costs THAT MUCH) on a bit of plastic?

Logically I knew it would work. I bought a six zone annual Travelcard and Orpington is in zone 6. Orpington has Oyster readers and I have seen them working but those two questions still revolved around in my head when I got on the bus, when I got to Orpington station and when I got off the train at Charing Cross.

It worked but am I paranoid or what?

*Note to foreign readers, non-Londoners and people similarly blessed by not having to commute into our bustling metropolis: a Travelcard is a way of paying for travel in and around London in advance. You can buy them for the day, week, month or year and to cover a number of zones. Zone one is central London and zone six is the one furthest out. There is a certain amount of snobbery that goes on regarding which zone you live in. Zone one is where the hip and trendy dudes live and in zone six we’ve only just learned to bang the rocks together and pull the hay out of our hair.

If you buy them from any of the overland rail companies, you are sold a paper ticket. A year of passing these through card readers can make them a bit ragged and wears the print away. The alternative is a thing called an Oyster card, a plastic card with some sort of radio activated chip in it so that you only have to slap it on the reader for it to activate and magically pay for your journey.

The only advantage to continue buying paper tickets is that sometimes, when the service over the year has been bad, a 5% discount is offered on the next card. It wasn’t available to me this year, therefore I am now an Oyster user.

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