Mystery 5.30 cap?

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    Hi all! I’d firstly like to thank the admins for such a resourceful site — though I suppose it is rather depressing that London has such a complex fare structure that tens of pages are needed to explain it all!

    I have an 18+ Student Oyster card with a 16-25 Railcard Discount applied.

    I was wondering what this mystery 5.30 cap I’ve been getting is. It doesn’t seem to be the bus and tram cap which I understand to be at 5.25 — and either way it includes a tube journey so I don’t suppose it’d be that anyway?

    Two examples
    (1) £5.30 daily total
    18:14 Bus journey, route 24 £0.75 £20.60
    16:28 – 16:46 Victoria [London Underground] to Warren Street £2.80 £21.35
    16:18 Bus journey, route 24

    (2) £5.30 daily total
    17:30 Bus journey, route 24 £0.00 £4.90
    15:26 – 15:36 Tottenham Court Road to Camden Town £0.05 £4.90
    14:46 – 15:04 London Bridge [London Underground] to Tottenham Court Road £1.75 £4.95
    13:14 Bus journey, route 133 £0.00 £6.70
    12:46 Bus journey, route 26 £1.75 £6.70
    10:33 Bus journey, route 24 £1.75 £8.45

    I’ve hit what I understand to be the regular Z1-Z2 cap before, so not too sure why the 5.30 cap sometimes applies. I assume it relates to the lack of peak time tube travel?

    (3) £8.10 daily total
    18:08 Bus journey, route 24 £0.75 £20.25
    16:17 – 16:30 Pimlico to Goodge Street £2.80 £21.00
    13:47 – 14:00 Warren Street to Pimlico £1.75 £23.80
    08:22 – 08:35 Pimlico to Warren Street £2.80 £25.55

    Is the main takeaway that when I take an (or several) off peak tube journey(s), it can be combined with bus journeys to reach a mystery 5.30 cap — just 5p more than the bus and tram only cap?

    Mike (admin)

    Hi Matthieu,

    Yes, the railcard discounted Oysters have an off-peak cap which is £5.30 for zones 1-2. This includes all travel after 0930, including the afternoon peak.


    Thanks for the prompt answer Mike!

    Seems that I missed that repeatedly by selecting Student 18+ when looking up the caps on the TfL website.

    As an added question for future reference, would that make buying a weekly/monthly/annual Travelcard which 18+ card holders get 33% off more worthwhile or would the Railcard’s lower off-peak capping suffice? Adding to this, there seems to be the lack of a weekly discounted Railcard Z1-Z2 cap which seems to be the full adult cap rather than 33% off which I suppose gives an added pro to the Travelcard? I suppose the answer overall would depend on the amount of peak time travel (in addition to the amount of days I’d travel)?

    Additionally, on an unrelated note, I’ve taken a look at your ‘When not to use Oyster’ page and was wondering whether the Gatwick example also applied to Oyster cards with the Railcard Discount applied? Aside from a single where Oyster seems to win hands down regardless, I assume the situation would be the same as regular fares?

    Mike (admin)

    Hi Matthieu,

    Ah yes, I see how that could be confusing. I’ll have a think about how to make that clearer on here.

    Travelcard vs caps is a do the maths thing I’m afraid. If you’re travelling before 0930 and going into or via zone 1 then the discounted travelcard is probably better. If you avoid zone 1 and/or only travel after 0930 then it’s unclear which is better.

    And Gatwick is the same for railcard fares too. Even the 16-18 zip card isn’t as good if you have a 16-17 Saver card for National Rail, whereas it used to make quite a difference.


    Thanks once again for the prompt answer Mike!

    Guess I’ll be sticking to just the Railcard capping for the time being and will give it another look once I’ve done a month of the same traveling pattern.

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