At the same time that the single bus/tram fare rises by 5p to £1.55, TfL are making a change to the ‘secret’ grace period at the end of the hopper hour.
As many people have found out, the hopper hour has actually been 70 minutes long. Originally 70 minutes was the time allowed to enable transfer between the trams and their feeder buses in New Addington. This was the facility that the original hopper was built on, and the duration stayed at 70 minutes when the hopper was extended to unlimited bus and tram journeys, even with a rail journey in between.
There was a worry that differences between the clocks on individual buses might result in overcharging, hence the generous grace period. However, extensive analysis has shown that bus clocks are remarkably well synchronised. There are also lots of free bus journeys started within the 10 minute grace window which were not intended to be available.
So, from March 1st the grace period will be reduced from 10 minutes to 2 minutes. According to the mayoral decision document, TfL have estimated that this would generate an extra £1.4m annually at pre-covid levels of use.
Just please remember that the hopper has always been advertised as one hour long. Anything over that is a bonus but must not be relied upon to always apply.