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Author Topic: Oyster - end of the line?  (Read 517 times)
Red Squirrel
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« on: October 08, 2019, 12:42:14 pm »

When the Oyster Card IT system was designed, it appears no-one thought there would ever be more than 15 zones - so zone information is held in a 4-bit integer.

As everyone knows, there are only 9 zones, so there's no problem... or there wouldn't be, if that were true. Beyond Zone 9, however, there's Watford Junction (Zone 10, or is it Zone W? Or maybe Zone G?), stations to Hertford (Zone 11/Zone B), Shenfield (Zone 12/Zone C), Zone 6 to Gatwick (Zone 13/Zone D), Gatwick Airport (Zone 14/Zone E) and finally Elizabeth Line stations to Reading (Zone 15/Zone F). Except that last one, apparently, isn't happening.

Brookmans Park now allows payment by contactless card but not Oyster, and it looks like the stations to Reading that were going to be Zone 15 are now going to be contactless-only too.

Geoff Marshall explains all here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m0xDbHj4K_E

Somewhere in among all this is a bullet that needs biting!
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bignosemac
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« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2019, 01:15:20 pm »

Perhaps the inner zones will be reduced to three or four zones.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2019, 03:29:11 pm »

Long before Oyster, but the predecessor of Zone 1 in the early days of 'flat' fares in the 80s was itself two separate zones - West End and City, with some stations in both. The rest of London was still graduated then.

The zonal model of concentric rings was just about OK for the Underground system, but taking it progressively further out has stretched it to the limit, especially as the journeys become increasingly no longer London-centred.

With contactless or another smartcard model either a kilometric system or one based on how many zone boundaries crossed could be created.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2019, 05:18:00 pm »

Meaning the zones could, at least in the outer areas, no longer be concentric rings but areas of any appropriate shape and size.
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rogerw
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« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2019, 05:19:21 pm »

Oyster has one big advantage over contactless, at present at least, as you can load your railcard on to it and gain a further reduction on the fare at off peak times.
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stuving
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« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2019, 06:58:21 pm »

Here's another two ways of doing it - as conceived by Île-de-France Mobilités (what was Stif) for Paris. They plan to do away with paper tickets by 2021, and the replacement is a superficially Oyster-like card called Navigo Easy (en anglais dans le texte). They say this is appropriate for visitors who don't want the tourist pass (but note the whole family of contactless passes are called Navigo, including the monthly and annual passes for residents, which can be confusing). Navigo Easy started in June 2019, and I tried one last month - a mobile phone-based alternative started more recently (25/9/19).

So I ask at the first guichet I can see, at Gare du Nord, and she says she's not got any left. Well, there are still paper ticket machines, but when there aren't... So I get one the next day, and what can I do with it? Basically, I can buy undated single journey (actually timed) tickets, or one-day or one-week passes (forfait), plus some specialities. The singles are the same as the t+ you can buy (though there may still be some glitches about changing onto bus or tram), and are used if there's no valid pass. You buy by putting the card in a cup on the machine - it tells you what''s loaded - then buying from a menu (there are machines that take cash).

Where it gets complicated is the zones (quelle  surprise !). For the forfaits, you have to choose which zones (minimum two) you want when buying - from €7.50 for two zones to €17.80 for all five. Fares for the weekly pass are more complicated, but at €22.80 for all zones you wonder why they bother. Zones are of course counted by passing through, so a zones 4-5 pass is likely to be of limited use. The t+ isn't zonal, but covers a modified version of zones 1+2 (all the Metro and trams plus RER in Paris plus some buses in Île-de-France).

So, how useful is it? I found the requirement to pick your zones in advance was annoying (largely because I made a mistake about which zone a station was in!). Of course the only alternative is some version of PAYG or the ability to refund (which actually amounts to much the same thing). I've not seen any hint of bank cards being brought into the Paris system.

I did say two ways of ticketing; the second is PAYG, and is called the Pass Navigo « Liberty+ ». This will load onto the other Navigo cards (i.e. not Easy) that have a name and picture, from later in the year, though allegedly it's already available for phones. It's basically a paperless carnet of t+ tickets, with the same validity but the lower carnet price (€1.49 vs €1.90). Billing will be monthly in arrears, with no mention of a deposit - so I guess it may be limited by residence, ID required, etc.
« Last Edit: October 09, 2019, 09:40:54 pm by stuving » Logged
paul7755
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« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2019, 08:34:49 pm »

I think the purely concentric model definitely has to be rethought.  In the London zones, (sticking  with the basic 6 zones for simplicity) anyone doing a full “diametric” journey from zone 6 to the opposite xtreme of zone 6 is effectively getting half his travel for free, because it’s usually the same price as zone 6 to zone 1.

It seems to me that from the beginning TFL must have decided that it wasn’t worth worrying about, because I suspect they reasoned that a very high majority of passengers must have only been travelling into zone 1 and back each day.

But IIRC national rail fares didn’t do this, a point to point journey right across London was always more expensive than a trip into the relevant mainline terminal and back.

Then the bigger the area becomes, all sorts of difficulties must start coming into play with orbital journeys, eg if Reading and Gatwick had both been Oyster enabled ”towards the zones” what happens about someone found travelling via Guildford?

I don’t know the easy answer...

Paul
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lordgoata
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« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2019, 10:21:44 pm »

Sweden's systems seem to just work everytime I go over there, Jojo in Malmo/Lund and SL Access in Stockholm - just load some SEK on it and tap in/out. So quick and easy, doesn't matter how long between uses (no bloody weekly or monthly tickets that I end up wasting half of when work plans change) etc etc. I dunno if that is the Oyster, Contactless or whatever other system we call over here as I have never experienced anything other than the GWR smartcard, but I wish we had a similar system here, its so convienient.
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TonyK
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« Reply #8 on: October 09, 2019, 09:16:57 pm »

Here's another two ways of doing it - as conceived by Île-de-France Mobilités (what was Stif) for Paris. They plan to do away with paper tickets by 2021, and the replacement is a superficially Oyster-like card called Navigo Easy (en anglais dans le texte). They say this is appropriate for visitors who don't want the tourist pass (but note the whole family of contactless passes are called Navigo, including the monthly and annual passes for residents, which can be confusing). Navigo Easy started in June 2019, and I tried one one last month - a mobile phone-based alternative started more recently (25/9/19).

So I ask at the first guichet I can see, at Gare du Nord, and she says she's not got any left. Well, there are still paper ticket machines, but when there aren't... So I get one the next day, and what can I do with it? Basically, I can buy undated single journey (actually timed) tickets, or one-day or one-week passes (forfait), plus some specialities. The singles are the same as the t+ you can buy (though there may still be some glitches about changing onto bus or tram), and are used if there's no valid pass. You buy by putting the card in a cup on the machine - it tells you what''s loaded - then buying from a menu (there are machines that take cash).

Where it gets complicated is the zones (quelle  surprise !). For the forfaits, you have to choose which zones (minimum two) you want when buying - from €7.50 for two zones to €17.80 for all five. Fares for the weekly pass are more complicated, but at €22.80 for all zones you wonder why they bother. Zones are of course counted by passing through, so a zones 4-5 pass is likely to be of limited use. The t+ isn't zonal, but covers a modified version of zones 1+2 (all the Metro and trams plus RER in Paris plus some buses in Île-de-France).


After reading that, I moved my coat to a lower peg.
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eightf48544
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« Reply #9 on: October 10, 2019, 11:16:57 am »

The German system of roughly hexagonal fare zones centred on the major town in the region work extremely well for local transport, whilst the Lander Regional Zones work well for longer non IC journeys (RE, RB).

As the German Railways were planned and there are links between most fare zone central towns, whilst there are rail links from say Leipzig, to Halle, Dresden Erfurt and Chemnitz there aren't rail links from Oxford to say Milton Keynes or Alylesbury. Also Geramn towns are more spread out. Working out eh zonal boundaries in England would be quite difficult.
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Red Squirrel
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« Reply #10 on: October 10, 2019, 11:42:08 am »

After reading that, I moved my coat to a lower peg.

Quite so. I do hope you remembered to do it before getting your hair cut, but after writing your letter home.
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TonyK
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« Reply #11 on: October 10, 2019, 08:06:13 pm »

I was going out for tea with an older boy. But my oyster card wouldn't work.
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