diamond geezer

 Friday, November 11, 2011

Tubewatch (40) OSI
Ten years ago the Oyster system was but a flash in a developer's eye, and today we almost all use it. Touch, swipe, wave... and you're through. It helps us get home faster, it saves us from carrying small change, and it helps TfL to employ fewer staff. London's rail network is mighty complicated, and sometimes the combination of gates, interchanges and human error ends up with us unintentionally paying extra. But at other times the software is set to be kind, to allow us to do something slightly out of the ordinary, to twist the rules. And so it is with the OSI - the Out of Station Interchange.

Say you want to change lines, maybe even change mode of transport, but the system forces you to touch out and then touch in again. Won't you be charged twice, for two journeys? Not if it's an OSI. At designated OSIs the system allows you through, so long as you transfer in a set amount of time, and only charges you once. For example at Hammersmith. If you arrive on the Hammersmith & City but want to cross to the District, that's fine. The OSI permits you 20 minutes to cross the main road, maybe buy a coffee, even nip off to the toilet, then continue your journey. Pay as you go, but no need to pay extra.

Here's a list of all the acceptable Underground to Underground OSIs (if it's on this list, then exiting and re-entering is free) (if it's not on this list, then exiting and re-entering costs extra)
15 minutes allowed: Bank, Bank - Monument, Kenton - Northwick Park, King's Cross St Pancras, Waterloo
20 minutes allowed: Elephant & Castle, Euston - Euston Square, Hammersmith, Wood Lane - White City, Paddington
25 minutes allowed: Hanger Lane - Park Royal
30 minutes allowed: Goodge Street - Tottenham Court Road, Leicester Square - Tottenham Court Road (temporary, during platform closure)

Here's a list of OSIs between the tube and other modes of travel (which might be more useful)
Underground to DLR: Bow Road - Bow Church, Canary Wharf, Canary Wharf - Heron Quays, Tower Hill - Tower Gateway
Underground to Overground: Shepherds Bush, Kenton - Northwick Park, Kilburn - Brondesbury, Finchley Road - Finchley Road & Frognal, West Hampstead - West Hampstead, Kentish Town - Kentish Town West, Camden Town - Camden Road, Archway - Upper Holloway, Seven Sisters - South Tottenham, Walthamstow Central - Walthamstow Queens Road, Leytonstone - Leytonstone High Road
Underground to National Rail: Bounds Green - Bowes Park, Clapham North - Clapham High Street, Sudbury Hill -Sudbury Hill Harrow (plus interchange at lots of central London termini, eg Cannon Street) (plus at lots of same named stations, eg Balham)

For a full list of Oyster-friendly Out of Station Interchanges, look here. TfL don't broadcast this list willingly, indeed it normally takes a Freedom of Information request to prise it out of them.
I've sourced many of this year's Tube Week lists from other people's TfL FOI requests, as catalogued here. Please, whatever you do, don't start firing off petty trivial FOI requests at TfL. It only annoys them and wastes their time, and the information you'll get back is never very... (oooh, blimey, who knew?)

For lots of useful background information on Oyster, I can heartily recommend this site - an independent guide to using the little blue swipecard. What's a Continuation Exit? How do you mix Travelcards with Pay As You Go? How long is a Maximum Travel Time? All covered. The Oyster system may work smoothly most of the time, but when it gets complicated or cocks up, there's no need to pay more than you should.

(n.b. today's tube quiz will be along later this morning, at the obvious time)

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