diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 28, 2016

If one London bus fare costs £1.50

and two London bus fares cost £3

and three London bus fares cost £4.50

then how much do four London bus fares cost?

Wrong, it's £4.50.

And that's because there exists a daily price cap on bus fares. The daily cap is currently set at £4.50, which means if you only travel on buses (or trams), you never pay more.

At this year's prices, £4.50 is precisely the fare for three bus journeys, which effectively means your fourth bus journey is free. And so is your fifth, and your sixth, and your seventh, and so on. In effect your Oyster or contactless card is a bus pass allowing free bus travel after the third bus.

I'm trying to work out why I'd never realised this before. I think it's because I have a Travelcard, so all my bus journeys come free, so I've never needed to know. The cap's been stated quite clearly in the information associated with the annual fare increase, ever since it was first introduced several years ago. But without the effects making themselves known on my card balance, I've never noticed it was a thing.

TfL don't seem particularly keen to crow about it, which is odd, because it's clearly brilliant. As far as I can tell it doesn't even have a special name, a brand to band about in publicity and get the public's attention, which might help spread the word. It's not even mentioned on the Bus & Tram fares page on the TfL website, not unless you think to open up the table halfway down, and there it is, Daily cap, £4.50.

I've seen posters around London pointing out that a single bus fare is only £1.50, and also that any off-peak tube journey outside zone 1 is only £1.50. But of the daily bus cap, not a word. "Your fourth bus journey is free!" "We only charge for your first three bus journeys!" "Travel by bus and pay no more than £4.50 a day!" How many times might you have caught an extra bus if you'd realised it wouldn't cost a thing? I don't believe this simple travel bargain is widely known. I may be wrong.

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