London Underground ticketing

London Underground ticketing

The London Underground metro system of London, England uses a mix of paper and electronic smart-card ticketing.


Fare zones

London Underground uses Transport for London's Travelcard zones to calculate fares, including fares for use on the Underground only. Travelcard Zone 1 is the most central, with a boundary just beyond the Circle Line and Travelcard Zone 6 is the most outlying and includes London Heathrow Airport. All of Greater London is covered by zones 1 to 6.

Tickets including zone 1 are usually more expensive than those involving only outer zones. The zone system works well because the most popular destinations and the stations where lines cross are in zone 1, meaning that most journeys over similar distances will cost the same.

A few stations in the north east of the network, on the Central Line, are outside Greater London in the Epping Forest district; however, they are included in zones 4, 5 and 6. In the north west of the network, on the Metropolitan Line, zones 7, 8 and 9 (formerly A - D) cover stations outside Greater London including Amersham and Chesham in the Chiltern district of Buckinghamshire. Unlike the lower numbered zones, these ancillary areas do not encircle the capital. They only apply to the Metropolitan line and London Overground.

Some stations are located on the boundary of two zones. For example, Vauxhall is in Zones 1 and 2; passengers travelling from a Zone 1 station only need to purchase a ticket covering Zone 1, while passengers travelling from an outer Zone (Zone 2 or beyond) only require a ticket covering Zone 2 and the other zones they are travelling through.

Ticket issuing systems

Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. [] , known as Westinghouse Cubic Ltd until April 1997, has manufactured all of London Underground's ticket machines since 1987. Tickets are sold from staffed ticket offices at stations, and from various types of self-service machines. The name for the system as installed from 1987 is "UTS" (Underground Ticketing System), though this system has been enhanced and extended recently, most notably since 1998 under the Prestige initiative, where Oyster smartcards were introduced.

* Ticket Office Machines (TOM): the system used in ticket offices. Now PC-based, replacing an earlier bespoke machine. The first machine at a station is numbered 01, with subsequent machines being numbered upwards from there.
* Few Fare Machines (FFM): also known as "Tenfare". Self-service machines with only ten buttons, representing the most common fare types from that station. Machines do not accept credit or debit cards. Machines are numbered from 10 upwards.
* Multi Fare Machines (MFM): also known as "Allfare". Self-service machines with touch-screens for all destinations on the London Underground network, offering a very wide range of tickets and Travelcards. Numbering goes upwards from 30.
* Queue Buster Machines (QBM): also known as "Quick Ticket Machines (QTM)". Smaller, wall-mounted, touch-screen machines installed initially at a larger Zone 1 stations, and subsequently at other locations. These accept credit and debit cards, but not cash. Machines are numbered 36, 37, 38 or 39.
*Advance Fare Machines (AFM): Self-service machines with touch-screens. They are refurbished Fewfare machines with the functionality of a Multifare machine. Machines are numbered from 29 downwards where possible.

FFMs and MFMs give change, but only MFMs accept paper money. Tickets from TOMs, FFMs and MFMs are identical, apart from the window/machine numbering, but tickets from QBMs are slightly different, with bolder printing and a slightly different font. The QBM uses thermal printing, whereas others use impact print.

In the Travelcard illustrated below, 0762 on the bottom line represents the National Location Code of the issuing station (in this case, West Ruislip), and 30 represents the first (and, in fact, only) MFM at that station.

As a result of fares being set on a zonal basis, single or return tickets do not show a destination station - they display an 11-character abbreviation of the origin station name. Between 1987 and 1994 (when the layout of tickets was redesigned), up to 16 characters could be used for the name.

[ A list of all TOM, Fewfare and Multifare machines on the London Underground network as at September 2002]

ummary of ticket types

The following tickets are available from London Underground and Transport for London ticket agents for use on the Underground:

External links

* [ Oyster Card] information and sales site


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