Or do they?
To make everything crystal clear, there is a helpful map here. (warning, big file)
Then, of course, there are the mysterious PINK card readers, as opposed to normal yellow ones.
It is hard to see how a pole with a pink button on it can tell which train you have alighted from and which you are about to board. Perhaps there is a man with a periscope in a subterranean pit making copious notes?
And there's a time limit on any single Oyster journey. So if you were to stop on a platform to have a coffee with a long lost chum as a moment of relief from a lengthy cross-London trek, you could be substantially penalised. But this little quirk is very well hidden in the "SuperOyster" propaganda machine.
Atrociously appalling anomalies abound. Just one will suffice. London Zone 1 to Watford via the Metropolitan Line is £5.50 cash [£4.70 peak, £3.80 off peak with Oyster]. London Zone 1 to Watford Junction is £11.80 cash [£7.30 peak, £5.00 off peak with Oyster]. Like, crazy!
Now fbb, being a bright lad (?), knows that a "pay as you go" Oyster Card is "capped" at the price of a one day Travelcard. However much you travel you should never pay more than that maximum. But which Travelcard price? There are oodles of them as well.
No 3 son is a London commuter. fbb has asked him about this vexatious subject. He comments,
"I have no idea how much I am paying, neither does anybody else. We THINK we are paying less than cash fares every time, but life is too short to keep checking. The big advantage of Oyster is that it's quick." [but then, No 3 son does earn pots of money - fbb]
"And what happens when my local train from Bushey to Euston is diverted into mainline platforms [as opposed to the local Oyster-friendly lines - fbb] with no card readers? Am I supposed to vault over the barriers at the correct platform against the flow of hundreds of hurrying commuters, then 'touch out' as I leave again?"
Simple its isn't. Opportunities for mis-charging must be mightily multifarious.
Barry Doe, renowned fares guru,
The pearl inside the Oyster Card should be simple fares with an easy to understand overall structure. Instead it's "O" for Oyster and "O" for Obfuscation.
Oh for something we could all understand! Oh for something that was always transparently fair!
At least the trains are getting better!
Next blog : due Friday June 24th