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One of the London Bus Network’s least known features (second, perhaps, only to the fact that there is actually no such a thing as a “compulsory stop”) has long been the existence of the “transfer ticket.”

Transfer tickets were created to deal with the issue of the short termination of bus services. Should a bus terminate early, then the driver of the terminating service could print out a complete list of all Oyster PAYG and cash fares currently on the bus, which could then be handed to the driver of a following service. This would enable all the passengers inconvenienced by the termination to continue their journey without additional charge.

In theory, transfer tickets should have been proactively distributed, but in reality this was not always the case. Indeed it is fair to say that it had become something of an LR author party-piece to reveal their existence to regular bus who didn’t know about them. The system also had another flaw – the fact that a single print out was issued to cover all passengers.

Technically, the driver of the terminating service was required to wait until another bus arrived and hand over the list in person. In reality this was rarely the case – or indeed practical if the whole point of the termination was to try and restore service quicker in the opposite direction. This often meant that responsibility for handling the transfer ticket fell to a single passenger, which was far from ideal. There was also no guarantee that all the terminated passengers would wish to simply board the next bus on the same route. Termination points are rarely single-service stops, and it was entirely possible that some passengers could continue their journey via a different bus route, should that bus arrive sooner – something that they technically couldn’t do under the terms of the transfer ticket.

It’s good news, therefore, that the system appears to have undergone a rather substantial overhaul. TfL have replaced the single “transfer ticket” with individual “transport vouchers” for each passenger who requests one. They have also confirmed that the distribution of these will now be more proactive, with additional messaging to highlight that they are available:

“During November and December we issued guidance to bus drivers, via bus garages, highlighting the changes to ‘transfer tickets’.” A TfL spokesman confirmed to LR. “London Buses will further support this with new messaging onboard buses using the iBus audio/visual system. This will direct passengers to speak to the driver for a transfer ticket if they wish to continue their journey and have paid by cash or Oyster PAYG.”

The Devil is in the Details

In itself, this is an improvement. What’s particularly interesting, however, is that the new system is also clearly designed to address the issue of previous transfer tickets being service specific. It does this by making the new transport vouchers temporally, rather than route, limited – each transport voucher is printed with the time it was issued and is valid for one bus journey within sixty minutes of issue.

It’s a simple and effective solution, but rather curiously it does now mean that there is, technically at least, a valid “one hour bus ticket” of sorts in circulation on the network – something that Caroline Pidgeon and others in the London Assembly have been vocal in their support for before.

TfL are, unsurprisingly, keen to emphasise the differences.

“Bus transfer tickets are a voucher allowing passengers to continue their journey if a bus has been curtailed. It entitles them to board one other bus within 60 minutes from time of issue. It is not a ‘one hour bus pass’, it is a slip of paper indicating a journey has been disrupted before a destination has been reached.” Commented Shashi Verma, TfL’s Director of Customer Experience.

“The feasibility of a ‘one hour bus pass’ has been investigated but would require a significant and costly upgrade of the Oyster system so there are currently no plans to introduce it. Bus passengers already benefit from a daily price cap which provides free travel after the cap has been reached.”

Verma is of course entirely correct. There are key differences between the two concepts, and the voucher setup is clearly the best approach to take in order to deal with the short comings of the previous transfer ticket system. It’s an interesting little dip into the world of temporal ticketing though, nonetheless.

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There are 71 comments on this article
  1. Anonymous says:

    Having been left without a transfer ticket on many occasions, despite pleading with the drivers concerned, I have never understood why TfL doesn’t radio all drivers of the next few buses approaching the bus stop to warn them that the a bus has been taken out of service. The iBus system means TfL should know exactly how many buses on the same or similar routes are in the vicinity and work out an acceptable time-frame for transfer. For example if the next bus isn’t due for 10 minutes but two other buses that cover part of the route are due within eight minutes then radio all three bus drivers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    On occasions where I’ve been on a bus terminating short, drivers of the following buses haven’t been interested in checking tickets anyway . One can only presume from having 30 or so passengers board at a stop where more than 5 passengers boarding at once is generally unlikely, that its pretty obvious what’s going on.

    That said, still a very positive step for customer service and if some sort of message is getting added to iBus, perfect.

  3. Hertslad says:

    Has this not already been in place for a while? I’m not a regular users of the buses but when I have suffered the short terminus thing, I’ve always nabbed what appeared to be an individual ticket from the driver for further travel – not that the other bus driver ever cares!

  4. Malcolm says:

    I was one of the many who had never heard of the scheme. I naively assumed that if my ticket was checked on the second bus, the inspector would believe me – probably backed up by other passengers.

    (I have also stopped worrying about it since I’ve turned 60 and would have no need to prove anything).

    In some ways the down side of the new scheme being more fumbleproof than the old one probably indicates that inspectors are also being told not to believe people. (Which may be justified, but it’s sad…)

  5. John Bull says:

    @Hertslad – the voucher thing is recent – that said I’ve seen drivers give out multiple transfer tickets before, even though they weren’t meant to.

  6. JN says:

    But doesn’t the driver have to activate the iBus system to announce the message, just like they have to if they announce “the destination of this bus has changed”… Therefore can’t they just choose not to play the message and leave people without onward travel, just like they did before…

    It’s a smart option though and I like the idea. Can’t help but wonder how long it will take for people to advertise on twitter/BB messenger that they have a bus ticket valid for an hour and that someone can have it for free, 30p, etc…

  7. Graham Feakins says:

    I, for one, was unaware of the change in practice concerning compulsory and request bus stops. However, you are, of course, correct:

    http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/buses_not_stopping_at_compulsory

    TfL used to exhort passengers to remain seated until the bus had stopped and thus several still do so as per the example given in that link, expecting the bus to stop at a compulsory stop without ringing the bell. However, this is less common now there are many more bell pushes, some so ill-located that they ring, annoyingly, several times simply because somebody inadvertently leans against or grabs the pole in the wrong place. Only last month a bus driver shouted down my bus that he wasn’t a bl**ding fire engine, which possibly shows his age.

  8. Andrew-R says:

    This sounds like something positive for short journeys as well as a good move on the way towards a 60 minute pass – even if that might eventually involve the issue of a paper ticket to all PAYG passengers after they have tapped in.
    My commute from Merton Park to Putney has several different possibilities:
    - Train from Wimbledon Chase to Wimbledon, then District line to East Putney, which is £1.70 in the peaks and £1.50 off-peak (an integrated train & LUL trip); or
    - Bus (163/164) from Wimbledon Chase to Wimbledon, then bus (93) to Putney, which is 2x £1.40 = £2.80 all day (an unintegrated London Buses trip). Not much incentive to use the buses!
    And sometimes the 93 terminates early at Putney Heath, and the transfer ticket (which had to be demanded and was never offered) was only valid on other 93 services, which often also terminated short too! And they have never been honoured on the 14 or 85 which are parallel services for the rest of the 93 route.
    I grew up in Tyneside in the late 70s/early 80s when we had a proper integrated ticketing system, with “Transfares” that worked on the buses and the Metro – happy days!

  9. marek says:

    The ‘significant and costly upgrade of the Oyster system’ which isn’t going to happen has some wider implications. If you buy a monthly bus pass at a tube station, the ticket machine cheerily exhorts you to buy it online next time. But you can’t – and I have been told that that is because ticket machines on buses cannot load a new entitlement on to an oyster card in the way that the gates at a nominated station can. It’s pretty obvious why that is a trickier problem than issuing tickets at stations, but it’s not so much harder as to be insoluble. My suspicion – for which I have no evidence – is that a trick was missed in the basic architecture of the oyster system because TfL is such a tube focused organisation and the bus-specific needs were overlooked or added as an afterthought.

  10. David C says:

    Good to see this mess being sorted out at last. In my experience, bus drivers have wildly varying views on when they can / should issue a transfer ticket – one to some random in the crowd who may or may not pass it to the next driver, or may decide to walk off? One each? One to everyone who makes a fuss? None, because “there’s another bus on the way behind”?… Which usually means lengthy arguments with passengers on cash /prepay, that usually last until the next bus pulls up.

    But we’ll lose the mildly interesting ability for a bit of analysis on the distribution of ways people pay, that was printed out on the tickets, and which usually included a surprisingly large number of freedom and staff passes.
    (typical example for the uninitiated: http://www.flickr.com/photos/swissdave/390328334/ )

  11. Greg Tingey says:

    Correction: …the fact that there is actually no such a thing as a “compulsory stop” –any more, though there used to be(!)

    It certainly was also possible for individual passengers to get authorisation for their individual “tickets”/Oyster-cards. I’ve seen this done, more than once, by those “in the know”. In other words, the “transfer voucher” system was already operating.

    Anon @ 18.15
    I wonder if it makes a difference where the originating bus garage comes from, since my (observing) experience has been the opposite of yours?
    – see also Hertslad @ 18.43

    David C @ 23.31
    Yesssssss….

  12. Jeremy says:

    The Oyster limitations on buses do make a deal of practical sense. Essentially, the issue is the lack of a reliably, always-on, always-fast data link between the bus and the central system. Consequently, my understanding is that buses are reading and manipulating data on the card which is then synchronised with the central system when the card comes into contact with the tube machines/barriers.

    A lot has obviously changed in terms of the availability and speed of mobile data since the system was designed. Indeed, the iBus system involves use of mobile data alongside other communication technologies. But anything that depends on that link being there is likely to cause a degree of user frustration and inconvenience when it inevitably sometimes doesn’t work.

    What I still struggle to understand is why TfL has not developed and implemented a suitably robust Oyster machine for bus stations and even streets. If they can manage to take card payments and issue vouchers for the ‘Boris’ bikes, then why not Oyster-capable, card-accepting machines to replace the cash-guzzling car park-style ones that are to be withdrawn?

    I suspect now the trajectory is more toward payment by contactless bank card, but until the issues of linking to an Oyster account and daily capping can be overcome, and until such an approach is suitable for period travelcard products, it would perhaps make more sense than relying solely on the few 24h Oyster retailers when the Tube is shut.

  13. Mike says:

    When you board a bus with a transfer ticket you have to hand it to the driver to inspect and they should put a tear through it so you cannot use it again.

  14. marek says:

    Jeremy @0823

    I think the always on connection is a bit of a red herring,, partly because for all relevant purposes there is effectively such a connection, but mostly because it’s not essential to making this work.

    If there were a nominated bus route, analogous to a nominated station, the process could be:

    - load new tickets onto ticket machines on the relevant route, by an overnight batch process at the garage if necessary, but set up to be consistent with real time updating

    - check oyster cards against the update list as they are presented. Check whether any new entitlement has already been loaded and if not load it.

    - flag that ticket as having been loaded, ideally broadcast in real time, but no real problem if that’s a batch operation too.

    The amount of data that needs to be moved round to make that happen is minimal, and well within the capacity of existing networks. I would be astonished if it were not possible to achieve very high levels of confidence of updates being available within a few minutes (though the offered service could be more conservative) – there are undoubtedly other constraints, but this isn’t one of them.

    But as long as bus ticketing is seen as the poor relation of tube ticketing, we are not likely to see any of this.

  15. Disappointed Kitten says:

    What a stroke of inspiration. After mere decades of inconveniencing and ripping off passengers, TfL have finally come up with a solution. I have fond memories of frequently being chucked off the 176 at East Dulwich. The driver would always fail to issue any sort of transfer tickets, even when asked, and when passengers tried to board the following service (sometimes after a 15-20 minute wait) the driver would force them to pay all over again and give them abuse if they protested. It was such a regular point of conflict many regulars would just give up and walk the last mile home rather than go through the whole routine of trying to explain fair trading and customer service to rude bus drivers and then paying twice for a single bus trip. Glad to know TfL are finally getting a grip after all these years, but I don’t fancy trying it out, frankly.

  16. Philip Eagle says:

    I was given false hope by the title of this blog post, because introducing some kind of one-hour bus ticket would be the single most useful innovation that could be made on London transport. Not just for the occasional case of a bus being turned short, but because introducing free connections would finally allow some kind of rational redesign of the bus network to avoid the problems caused by having six or more different bus routes with wildly different loadings travelling down the same streets. Given the number of cities on mainland Europe that have offered this for years, it can’t be that hard to do.

  17. Anonymous says:

    Unless there has been a change in recent years of which I was unaware, there seems to be a misconception in this article. I used to train London Transport driver operators many years ago, and more recently drove TfL services myself, admittedly all before the advent of Oyster. The instruction was always to issue as many transfer tickets as was necessary until all passengers had been able to continue their journeys, possibly on several different routes. It was never a requirement that this should be on a bus on the same route as the one which had been curtailed. Indeed, I used to tell trainees to arm themselves with three or four such tickets when they were making the transfers as it didn’t matter if in the event they were not all used. It is certainly true that drivers were instructed not to abandon passengers at the side of the road but to stay with them until all had been successfully transferred. Of course, the idea was also that such a curtailment would not be made unless the following bus was very close behind or perhaps in a situation where many other high frequency services would enable passengers to continue their journeys without too much delay.

  18. stimarco says:

    @marek (and others):

    “Oyster” (and all similar systems) are fundamentally defined by their software. The hardware tends to be much the same from system to system as there are only so many ways to use short-range RF technology for this sort of thing.

    Basically, each user of the system has a ‘token’ of some sort, which is used to effectively log them into the network and let them access it. Oyster is a really big variation on the traditional “smart card” access used by many office workers to access sensitive computer systems. (If you’ve ever had to visit a JobCentre, you may have seen smart cards used there.)

    The design and features of the ‘token’ are crucial in running a system like “Oyster” where the central servers might not always be available. At the time the system was being designed, this meant storing some data on the card – TfL’s Oyster system stores the amount of cash on Pay-As-You-Go cards on the card itself, for example. However, even allowing for encryption overheads and other data, there’s really not that much on there in terms of data: even a single kilobyte would be plenty.

    There are around 7 million cards in total on the TfL system (Source: TfL’s own “Oyster-factsheet” PDF). Even assuming as much as 1024 bytes of data per card – which is far more than they’d need – the entire Oyster database would fit onto an 8Gb data stick with room to spare. Even if you doubled it, that’s just 14Gb total. To put that into context, most smartphones have more storage space than that.

    The processing power required to process each card when tapped against the reader is also tiny using modern processors – your mobile phone could do it in its sleep mode – and the resulting changes to the database could easily be uploaded to the central servers and merged into the ‘master’ database at night. (Note that only *changes* to the database need to be communicated to the central computers, so you don’t need to upload the entire database multiple times every night.)

    In theory, each Oyster reader on each and every bus could contain its own small computer with a copy of the database – no personal details would be required; just the card ID numbers and relevant info regarding cash available and other travel permissions – and literally process your card itself, without ever contacting anything until the bus is returned to the bus garage for servicing.

    However, even GSM mobile phone technology is more than enough to send and receive the tiny packets of data streaming to and from that central database during service. We’re talking kilobytes, not megabytes. So it’s probably no surprise that this is what is used. It’s how the system was originally designed to work, at a time when many internet users were still using dial-up connections.

    There is, therefore, no *technical* reason why Oyster cannot be upgraded to handle a temporal, rather than route-based, payment system instead. It’s “just” software.

    But… it’s sensible to make as few changes to software as you can get away with: every change you make might introduce a bug. (A “Golden Rule” in programming is that the most bug-free code is the code you don’t have to write.) Programming tools have barely changed since the 1970s: programmers are effectively being asked to build complex modern skyscrapers with the same tools once used to build the software equivalent of Stonehenge. (Yes, the development tools have sprouted icons and colour-coding, but it’s still fundamentally the same systems under all those coats of pretty paint.)

    Modifying software that might contain years-old code is not cheap or easy as the sheer complexity means something apparently unrelated might break. This is one of the main causes of bugs. Which is why we typically see systems like these being replaced wholesale after a number of years in service instead.

    If you want to get an idea of just how fragile the software that manages so much of our lives today truly is, I suggest reading some of the “Feature Articles” on “TheDailyWTF” website. (It does help if you understand how computers work, but even the most IT-illiterate will spot the many repeated patterns of poor management, poor communications, lack of planning and missing quality control steps.)

  19. timbeau says:

    Oyster clearly does know when you touched in on the Underground, as it is able to time you out if you take too long to make a journey, or making an out-of-station interchange. Presumably this information is stored on the card, otherwise travelling inspectors wouldn’t be able to check.

    So why can’t the readers on the buses simply look at whether your card’s last transaction was to board a bus within the last hour, and only debit your card if it wasn’t?

  20. answer=42 says:

    One of the difficulties in introducing a time-based charge for buses is that it may reduce the information available about ridership. You are a passenger who boards route 1. You are charged. 15 minutes later, you change buses to route 2. Since you are not charged again, you would not systematically present your Oyster card, unless you were somehow compelled to do so. Your card would not be read and the information that you have boarded route 2 would not be collected. Clearly, some form of compulsory identification of passengers who change buses would be needed.

    Posters have alluded to the minimal changes being made to Oyster to enable bus transfer tickets. Perhaps TfL are intending to avoid any major changes to the current Oyster system, since its bank-card based successor, let’s call her Pearl, is on her way.

  21. timbeau says:

    @answer =42

    what’s the difficulty? When you board a bus with time-limited availability loaded on an Oyster (travelcard, child Zip card, Freedom Pass etc) you have to touch on the reader to show the driver (or conductor where there is one) that the card has that availaibility loaded on. It’s the same principle, whether your free access lasts 18 minutes or 18 years.

  22. answer=42 says:

    For this to happen, the Oyster etc card has to register a zero-payment transaction (easy) and the transaction still has to take place. Perhaps it’s a non-problem in London, where everyone boards at the front but it’s a major issue in some time-based systems.

  23. stimarco says:

    @answer=42:

    Your argument only makes sense if passengers only ever make one-way journeys. When the Oyster user makes the return trip, they’ll be telling TfL where they spent the day the moment they tap the card on the reader. Remember, you’re not expected to ‘tap in’ when you get *off* a bus anyway, so how do you think TfL work out your journey habits today?

    TfL don’t need to know exactly which buses you use to get from A to B. All they need to know are where points A and B *are*.

    TfL can easily work out how many people are using which stretches of a bus route. They can then relate such loadings with similar demand on connecting services, in order to identify popular multi-vehicle / -modal journeys. By combining data from both the morning and evening peaks, you can build a pretty good picture of where the really heavy demand is, and what you need to do to meet it.

  24. John says:

    Slightly off topic, but an idea from Toronto.

    After 9.00pm a bus will stop anywhere to allow a lone traveller to alight. It means someone can alight nearer their home and with less chance of being followed by an ‘undesirable’. Costs nothing but very worthwhile.

  25. randomstreets.blogspot.com says:

    It does seem odd that in the UK, buses so rarely offer free transfers if your journey involves making an interchange. In many of the cities I have visited on the continent and in North America, transfers at no additional charge are widely available – the passenger is charged for the journey they are making, rather than for each journey stage which the transport network chooses to provide. The time limit is often on the total journey time taken, rather than the transfer having to happen within a set time.

    If London’s bus fares allowed transfers as standard, as well as no longer penalising passengers where the network doesn’t provide a through service, it would get rid of the need to have “transfer vouchers” when buses get curtailed.

  26. The other Paul says:

    @answer=42
    “Since you are not charged again, you would not systematically present your Oyster card”
    On the majority of London buses, you are required to present your card when boarding, whether you’re paying a fare or simply have a pass. The only exceptions to this are the crewed heritage buses and I believe some of the former bendy bus routes which still allow rear door loading.

  27. The other Paul says:

    …oh and possibly the crewed Borismaster buses. But I’m guessing that on all the crewed buses (Heritage and Boris) the conducted will chase you for a scan of your card soon after you’ve boarded anyway.

  28. The other Typo says:

    *conducted = conductor

    I think it’s bedtime

  29. Long Branch Mike says:

    @ John

    As a Torontonian, I can clarify that the Request Stop program is only for females.

  30. Long Branch Mike says:

    Another thing that Toronto does extremely well is free transfers between surface transit (buses & streetcars) & the subway. Most subway stations have bus & streetcar platforms integrated into them, so passengers don’t have to have their transfers or passes checked upon any transfer (surface to surface route, subway to/from surface). Major time saved for passengers & transit staff alike.

    Note that some of the downtown stations do not have the space for such surface vehicle platforms, and transfer/pass checking slows down loading & entrance. Proof of Payment is currently only on the 501 Queen streetcar line. However with the new Bombardier multi-door streetcars being introduced next year, all door loading will apparently be available. Presto the fair card may be the mechanism.

  31. PussOnSkis says:

    Greetings from Melbourne. Our new Myki smartcard system can indeed send top-ups and season tickets to buses and trams. In fact, every top-up and season ticket bought online is sent to every bus, tram and fixed reader in the state. For the buses and trams, the connectivity is simply a wifi router in the depot where the vehicles are parked overnight.

    However, the system has its own design problems and, living as I do within walking distance of a train station, I’d rather have your system in which I could top up before 11pm and know it was there the next morning.

    The first problem is a political one. Although top-ups often appear within a couple of hours at metro train stations, the ticketing authority does not want to be seen to provide a worse service in outer suburbs and rural areas than for metro trains, so it won’t promise better than 24 hour delivery. This in turn means they sometimes feel entitled not to process metro train top-ups overnight. The public is not stupid and would, I think, understand a difference, but state government politics means the ticketing authority won’t see reason any time soon.

    The second problem is that you cannot queue a second top-up until the back-end has been notified the first one got through. For example, if you are due a 6c refund due to overcharging, that is sent out on night 1, you travel on day 2, on night 2 it tells the back-end it was loaded, and only then can the $20 top-up you bought online on night 1 be sent. It does suggest the readers have not been designed to efficiently match and combine multiple top-ups for the one card (which isn’t actually hard to do). What might have been tolerable inefficiencies for 100 waiting top-ups at a suburban station would be intolerable with tens of thousands from all over the state. I would not have designed the readers or protocol that way.

    GSM was claimed to be a less attractive solution than depot wifi for trams, at least, because of the electrical interference and skyscraper canyons. Trams will always be a stored-card system as the readers are on the vehicle, not at the stop. Also, the rural bus network probably goes outside of mobile range completely. There are hard-wired top-up machines at some tram stops in the central city.

    All Melbourne fares are time and zone-based. You board a tram at any door and touch on once on board. You do not touch off on trams unless travelling only in Zone 2 (middle and outer suburbs).

    Time-based fares on trams IMO enourages unnecessary trips. I certainly see far too many people ride for 400m (even once 200m) and then get off – they’ve already spent enough for two single trips so there’s no price signal for the second journey. Time-based fares doesn’t solve your transfer problem unless you also abolish the single-trip tickets.

    Surely, though, there’s a simple solution to your transfer ticket problem: if the bus turns around early, refund the ticket in full! After all, you may have taken the passenger away from their alternative transport method. The driver could set the Oyster readers to do a refund as the passengers exited.

  32. timbeau says:

    @randomstreets

    “the passenger is charged for the journey they are making, rather than for each journey stage which the transport network chooses to provide”.

    If only it were that simple here. Buy a ticket from Lewisham to West Hampstead. It is not obvious which route it is valid on, but he fares are different depending on whether you go via London Bridge and Thameslink (NR throughout), London Bridge and Jubilee Line (NR + tube), Bank and Underground (DLR and tube), or Startford and Overground (DLR and Overground avoiding Zone 1). But woe betide you if you got the wrong ticket for the route you took. Surely there should only be one fare from any given Point A to any given Point B.

  33. C says:

    @timbeau

    Well you have listed 4 different journeys there, seeing as West Hampstead has 3 stations and Lewisham has 2, so it isn’t a case of Point A to Point B.

    Metrobus in Surrey (for its non-TfL services) has a smartcard on which you can buy passes online. These are loaded onto all buses at night so that when you present your card the next day (or maybe the day after next) it will know what pass you’re meant to have. But the first touch-in takes up to 5 seconds, which may be too long for Londoners. That said, I frequently come across local Londoners (under 40) who wait until they get on the bus (in Zone 1) before asking what the fare is!!

    @PussOnSkis

    Any kind of transport pass encourages unnecessary trips, whether hourly or annual. If I have a pass I will take the bus for one stop if it’s there when I reach it, but if I don’t I will just continue walking. If I don’t have a pass (which I decide based on the minimum number of journeys I will need to make within a period), I will sometimes walk 5 or more tube stations.

  34. timbeau says:

    @C

    How is the passenger supposed to know that Lewisham is technically two stations, and West Hampstead is three? And indeed neither Journey Planner nor the OSI rules consider them to be separate stations, so how is the poor traveller to know when he buys a ticket from a machine outside the barrier line which is which?

    Greenwich to Richmond (both with a lot of tourist traffic) might have been a better example, because at both stations there is a single barrier line. (e.g via Waterloo: via Charing Cross/Embankment: via Bank/Monument: via Lewisham, Denmark Hill and Clapham Junction)

    It is certainly not clear to a casual user which will be the cheapest!

  35. RayL says:

    Mention has been made of Freedom Passes. My local Civic Offices tell me that they are simply ‘entry passes’ i.e. that the Council pays a fixed sum per pass regardless of the amount of use.

    This means that, for example, I don’t need to tap in for a tram journey (or out either if I transfer at Wimbledon).

    Does the Oyster system register the use of Freedom Passes for statistical purposes? In other words, should I be tapping in and out wherever an Oyster passenger would tap in and out just to make TfL’s stats more accurate?

  36. peezedtee says:

    @RayL
    In practice, I’m sure 99.99% of Freedom Pass users don’t bother to tap in or out when the system doesn’t force them to (i.e. they have to get through a physical barrier gate or past a glowering bus driver), so any attempt to derive statistics from it would be completely meaningless surely?

  37. peezedtee says:

    @ Long Branch Mike “As a Torontonian, I can clarify that the Request Stop program is only for females.”

    Surely any such outrageous discrimination would be illegal here, and I’m surprised it isn’t in Canada.

  38. Fandroid says:

    A good point was made here that the payments systems seem to be dictating the usefulness of the overall public transport. It’s really odd to return to the UK and find that local city and town transport systems are about as complicated as they possibly can be. Often a serious deterrent to actually using them. Oyster (especially the integration of National Rail trains) has improved things dramatically in London, but you get the impression that the buses are run by an entirely separate organisation, which has only grudgingly bought into the smartcard, and is determined to run a totally independent and competing network. In most countries with good public transport, it’s taken for granted that the bus network complements trains and trams, and interchange requires no new ticket. Time & zone based tickets are absolutely normal for all modes. All the London infrastructure of card-readers, central reconciliation, ticket barriers (& transfer tickets!) is a wonderfully expensive cottage industry foisted on us by our ‘market-driven’ (like train franchises) ideologues. All jobs for the (right) boys.

  39. gio says:

    Like other people here, I find it bizarre that I have to pay for two bus fares if I go a few stops on one bus, then change to go on another one. But I can travel on one bus route for miles and miles for one fare. I think the touch-card system is sophisticated enough to charge only one fare within a designated timescale. What is the difference, after all, between interchanging between two tube lines at the same tube station, and interchanging between two bus routes at the same bus stop? Nothing.

    What does peeve me even more than this though is the attitude of SOME bus drivers who behave like self-employed taxi drivers who think they own the road. I know there are lots of stupid pedestrians out there who walk into the road without looking, and driving on London’s roads all day is incredibly frustrating, but as some of you have already said, you cannot make a bus driver issue you a transfer ticket or abide by certain regulations if he doesn’t feel like it. And there’s really nobody else to complain to at that moment in time if that happens. No wonder bus driver rudeness topped the list of complaints recently about TfL services!

  40. RayL says:

    @gio “No wonder bus driver rudeness topped the list of complaints recently about TfL services!”

    and yet . . . and yet . . . . perhaps it depends on which buses and which routes. In the outer London area where I live (LB Sutton) it is commonplace to thank the driver when getting off the bus (particularly where the bus terminates). This is a phenomenon that has been growing of recent years with no official encouragement and no publicity. It just happens because people want to do it, which is the best of all reasons.

  41. Fandroid says:

    @RayL. It’s an old country custom which I’m proud to uphold. It’s not terribly easy to do on a busy central London double-decker when you exit via the central doors!

  42. stimarco says:

    When I lived for a while on the Essex coast, in a town that lost its railway in the 1960s, thanking the bus drivers was considered perfectly normal. But there’s a reason for this discrepancy: urban buses typically have multiple doors to reduce dwell times, while most rural buses have just the one. (The principle is that the long distances between stops on rural routes means more seating is preferred over the negligible timing improvements gained by reducing dwell times.)

    In a city like London, people will tend to feel self-conscious if shouting, “Thanks, mate!” across a crowded bus when exiting at a rear door – the bus driver might not even hear anything over the hubbub. The result is that drivers on urban bus routes will, psychologically, tend to be more isolated from their passengers.

    Until DOO was rolled out in a big way during the late ’60 and early ’70s, isolating drivers from the passengers was the norm: the “Routemaster” design may have been innovative in construction, but its actual layout was not new and goes right back to the 1800s. The drivers were kept away from the proles while the *conductors* acted as the public faces of bus and tram operators. This basic format goes right back to the 1800s.

    DOO has, if nothing else, given the driver more of a public-facing role, but those perspex barriers installed for their protection still maintains a very clear “us vs. them” environment, so there’s still a strong element of isolation for the drivers today.

    I suspect that, as self-driving car technology improves, we’ll eventually see the return of conductors (“Passenger Service Agents”?), but that’s probably at least a decade away.

  43. Anon5 says:

    I remember when the first NBL was displayed at Trafalgar Square commenting to the TfL representatives how refreshing it was to see there wasn’t a screen between the driver and passengers. “There will be before it enters service,” he laughed. Of course the doorman at the rear is still exposed! At some stage maybe we’ll get to a stage where bus drivers won’t carry any money. Perhaps then the screens will be removed. Doubtful I know but possible.

    I’ve noticed an increase in passengers thanking or nodding to drivers when exiting the rear doors. Many passengers on single-door buses in SE London thank the driver as they leave, especially on the 162 whose drivers will often let passengers board at Bk Jn five or ten minutes before departure time.

    Conversely I think manners have improved as a result of Oyster. People moved over to paper travelcards around the same time (ish) of perspex screen so there was little interaction between passenger and driver other than a flash of the card and the driver squinting to check it was in date. Touching in your Oyster card brings you much closer to the driver. The card reader makes a noise to confirm the Oyster is valid, so the driver isn’t concentrating on checking the travelcard is valid, and you find yourself acknowledging each other. I now thank the driver as a matter of course when touching in simply because!

    Finally, I must say how refreshing it was to see a very smartly dressed driver on the number 73 this morning. Full uniform, tie and old-school driver’s badge. Compare that to the Stagecoach London dress code…

  44. Greg Tingey says:

    Ray L
    Does the Oyster system register the use of Freedom Passes for statistical purposes? In other words, should I be tapping in and out wherever an Oyster passenger would tap in and out just to make TfL’s stats more accurate?
    YES & YES!

    Pezedtee
    OTOH, in most cases, now one does hjave to get past a bus-driver or through a barrier, don’t you? So the stats will be significant & a useful guide to ridership/usage information.

    Gio
    “Bus driver rudeness” only topped the list, because complaining about “announcements” on the tube system will only get you the usual collection of supposedly apologetic lies (grrrr) & all the phantom excuses about why it’s “necessary” – which it isn’t as a quick trip to Paris will immediately demonstrate, oops.
    And, I must admit, I have yet to see much rudeness from drivers, myself – one or two petty jobsworths in Central London, but that is a separate issue, not relevant here …..

  45. Catford Cat says:

    @ random streets

    London’s trams (or at least the former LCC bits of the network) could, until LT ‘simplified’ things in 1950, offer a vast array of transfer fares, even ‘board the first car and change later’ where a journey could be done in a single hop if you’d waited for a tram on another service to come along.

    And all with technology at the level of bell punch style machines… (I’d offend the purists if I referred to Bell Punches here)

    I’ve never fully understood why London buses have never been considered able to offer a similar facility.

    @ anon 5

    Sadly, driver assaults do not only happen where the intent is theft of cash – issues such as identifying an invalid ticket, or attempting to refuse an anti-social passenger can easily result in altercations, so I think assault screens are here to stay – most bus operators who use fareboxes / vaults still have screens in place.

    Also, I’m not convinced that Oyster has made passengers interact with drivers more – I’d say the opposite, as more people see it as an interaction with the machine and ignore the driver. And on occasions I have a paper travelcard, the proportion of times drivers don’t even look at it seems to be growing.

  46. Anonymous says:

    it’s a legal requirement for the drivers PSV number to be visible to passengers and for him to to give it to any person who may reasonably require it

  47. Littlejohn says:

    @Anonymous 10:00AM, 15th March 2013. – ‘it’s a legal requirement for the drivers PSV number to be visible to passengers and for him to give it to any person who may reasonably require it’. This hasn’t been a requirement for some years, I think since the mid 80s. I took my PCV (it’s no longer PSV) test some 12 years ago at the age of 55 when I bought my first preserved coach and I wasn’t issued with a badge, nor was there any opportunity to buy one.

  48. peezedtee says:

    @Greg Tingey “OTOH, in most cases, now one does hjave to get past a bus-driver or through a barrier, don’t you? So the stats will be significant & a useful guide to ridership/usage information.”

    Well, I frequently find myself using stations that either have no barriers (Elephant & Castle NR) or where the barriers are locked open at the times when I pass through, e.g. recently at Colindale and Kew Gardens to name but two. This practice seems to be quite common. (God knows how much revenue is being lost as a result, but that’s a separate discussion.)

  49. Bus users should be able to interchange freely on routes/zones - without extra charges says:

    Buses are more flexible and able to respond to demand. If interchanges were allowed for a single ticket price within a zone, it could enable more sensible use of bus capacity and increase frequency and useage of public transport v private transport.

    Solutions are possible such as a much lower bus charge for a 2nd tapin within an hour?

  50. Anonymous says:

    I don’t see why TFL cannot provide a transfer ticket to all passengers requesting one, whether or not the bus is terminating or not or not. Much like in North America where you can use the busses to get as close to your destination as possible by being able to connect to bus routes not stopping close to your start point.

  51. Anonymous says:

    Why does TFL make it as difficult as possible for PAYG users to find out the correct policy/procedure on transferrable travel vouchers? The information doesn’t appear to be anywhere on their, or Oyster’s, site.

    Is there a way to force TFL to put one clearly worded statement in this matter in the public domain.

    And can TFL not amend their “This bus terminates here” message along the lines of “”This bus terminates here. PAYG passengers wishing to continue their journey, please approach the driver for a ticket”?

  52. Anonymous says:

    I was on the 46 that as usual terminated early due to the busses bunching up on bad traffic. I asked the driver for a transfer ticket and he said the machine is broken. I looked and it wasn’t broken, stood there till he relented and issued me a transfer ticket.

    I do not understand why he would be reluctant to issue a transfer ticket? Is there additional paperwork that would be involved at the end of his shift?

  53. Anon II says:

    @ Anonymous

    That should be reported. There is too much reluctance to issue transfer tickets – l don’t know why.

    If the machine is OOU, the bus should be replaced

  54. Castlebar says:

    @ Anonymous 04:05 a.m.

    I was once told that often, a reluctance to issue replacement tickets is because THE DRIVER HAS NO AUTHORISATION TO TURN SHORT. It could for example mean the driver loses money and/or the bus operating company loses a bit of subsidy for an uncompleted journey. lf this is the case, and replacement tickets have to be recorded, this does indeed open a can of worms. Can anyone confirm any of this??

  55. Anonymous says:

    Once issued with a transfer ticket do I have to wait for the same route or can I continue on another route without paying again

  56. timbeau says:

    I’ve had a transfer ticket accepted on a route different from that of the bus from which it was issued. I wouldn’t imagine it would give you freedom to go beyond the section of route common to the two services though.
    (So if you’re chucked off a No 11 at Trafalgar Square you could use a 24 to get to Victoria, but not Pimlico)

  57. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – begs an interesting question as to how the transfer ticket process will work on cashless buses come July, especially with bank card users. I assume buses will still have ETMs with paper rolls in them so transfers can still be issued.

  58. Castlebar (Real Contra Crayonista) says:

    It was interesting last Saturday. I was in Twickenham. The annual Army vs Navy Rugby match was played.

    Many of these guys queuing at bus stops after the match had no idea about Oyster cards etc, and nearly 20 of them wanted to pay cash at just one bus stop (just why so many wanted a 267 to Fulwell I do not know, and I didn’t ask)

    When buses become cashless, I wouldn’t want to be a bus driver in Twickenham just after a rugby match has finished

  59. timbeau says:

    @WW
    When I had a transfer ticket, I was on an Oyster. The driver just gave a transfer ticket to anyone who asked.

  60. Anon5 says:

    Considering buses have two-way radios, are tracked by GPS from the control room and in many areas can be watched live on CCTV linked to the control room. surely a driver can report a breakdown. In turn control can tell every bus within a set period behind the broken down bus to accept any passenger who informs the driver they’ve been decamped. Sure you might get an odd chancer but I’ve previously been transferred en masse with a group of 20 where one passenger from was given a single transfer ticket to represent us all. Any bystander at the bus stop could have joined our scrum. At least in an Oyster/bank card world an inspector who gets on the second bus can check to see if they’re telling the truth, meaning drivers no longer need to carry a roll of transfer tickets.

  61. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 5 – well you clearly need to be given a prize for having experienced something close to what the rule book says about transfers. It is obviously not always a break down that causes the need for a transfer but a service being curtailed by controllers as part of “managing” the service. Without boring readers to death I’ll just say I’ve experienced some truly awful service management this year and in no case was a transfer done properly in accordance with TfL’s requirements. Some were so close to shambolic that you’d wonder if people were awake in the control room or that rules even existed on how to transfer passengers.

    My reason for querying bank cards is that there is no record on the card itself (AIUI) which means people could be checked on a second bus and if the transfer is not done properly then the bank card user could, in theory, be accused of evasion and prosecuted for presenting a bank card which has no journey details on it and which may not have been validated on the second bus (why pay twice?) and therefore not on the inspector’s print out which they get from the ETM on boarding. Similarly I do not know how anyone can be revenue inspected on the rail network when CBC acceptance is introduced there *if* there is no write record, on the bank card, of the holder having touched in. Clearly I’m making an assumption about the transaction process here and may be wrong about what happens.

  62. timbeau says:

    @anon5
    “I’ve previously been transferred en masse with a group of 20 where one passenger from was given a single transfer ticket to represent us all. ”
    How does that work? What if that passenger is not going as far as I am? Or if the next bus to come along is a short working (or another route on the same road) which suits some but not all of the passengers transferring – which group get to keep the transfer ticket?

  63. Fandroid says:

    Can I respectfully suggest that all the recent commentators read JB’s original article (above) about changes in transfer tickets.

  64. Graham Feakins says:

    Perhaps of interest is that I witnessed twice in the past month on the 68/468 a service terminated short at Camberwell Green (close by the bus garage) because of a mechanical fault and we all transferred, complete with original driver, to an awaiting bus in front brought out by a garage engineer. The driver handed the bus with a fault to the garage engineer who then took care of it. After we all had been herded aboard, he then permitted new passengers at that stop to join. An extremely smooth operation on both occasions. I assume that the driver transferred his reader/ticket information with him to the replacement bus.

  65. Anon5 says:

    Timbeau – many of us asked the same question of the driver but he was adamant he was only issuing one ticket. We hoped for the best because I spotted the ticket holder alighting before me.

  66. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 5 and others – I’ve consulted a 2012 edition of the Big Red Book which sets out what bus drivers should do to provide a good service to the public. The following is what I found. I suspect it may have been updated given there is now an I-Bus announcement about asking for a transfer ticket if the bus is curtailed.

    …my bus breaks down or is turned

    If your bus breaks down, or is turned short of its original destination, passengers can transfer onto any other London bus service going the same way.

    Issue an inspector’s ticket for ‘9999’ and give it to the driver of the bus picking up your passengers. You may have to do this with more than one bus, until all of your passengers have been picked up.

    Try to make sure all your passengers are safely aboard another bus.

    Remind passengers with Oyster cards that they should not touch their card on the card reader when boarding the second bus.

    Those instructions are rarely complied with – especially the driver pro-actively managing the transfer process. On one journey today I had two buses on the same route overtake the bus I was on and then be curtailed meaning my bus had to pick up two loads of “evicted” passengers. In neither case did the driver manage the transfer.

  67. Fandroid says:

    If JB’s article is correct, then the instructions in the Big Red Book have been changed since 2012.

  68. timbeau says:

    Having the driver wait to supervise the transfers to the other bus would probably defeat the purpose of turning him in the first place

  69. Graham Feakins says:

    See this 2012 item, which reproduces WW’s extract from the Big Red Book:
    http://blog.fixmytransport.com/2012/05/01/transferticketsfoi/

    However, Clause 3 goes on to state “Please note that we are about to change the process for issuing transfer tickets (now to be Transfer Vouchers). The mechanical process is simpler, and drivers should issue them individually only to any passenger who has paid a cash fare or used Oyster PAYG. On boarding the second bus, the receiving driver should check the voucher (which is valid for 60 minutes after issue), cancel it by tearing it in half and return both halves to the passenger. We expect this to be introduced over the next few months.”

    Although this is partly described in JB’s article, timbeau seems correctly to anticipate the delay to the first bus – and I anticipate also delay to the second the second! Tearing a ticket (voucher) in half goes back to traditional bus/tram conductor days who tore tickets to cancel them if his ticket punch had jammed!

  70. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Tearing a ticket (voucher) in half goes back to traditional bus/tram conductor days who tore tickets to cancel them if his ticket punch had jammed!

    Or if his Gibson machine malfunctioned and he had to open his emergency ticket pack.

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