Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Reduce the Oyster "Uncompleted Journey" penalty fare by 1p

  [vote for,

Hmmm... This might be an idea of niche interest...

Maybe I should explain first: The London tube system (i.e. the "metro" or "subway" system) uses a contactless pre-pay smartcard system for fares called an Oyster card. This can be loaded with, say £20, and then you swipe the card over a reader at the beginning and end of your journey. At the beginning of your journey, a small screen on the gate displays the remaining credit on your card (e.g. "£16.50") and at the end of your journey, the screen displays the remaining balance and the fare deducted (e.g. "£14.00 (£2.50)").

Sometimes it happens that you don't swipe 'in' properly, in which case the system doesn't know where you started your journey and charges you the maximum possible fare (which I think is £4.00). This is called an "Uncompleted Journey" because it doesn't have a matching "swipe in" and "swipe out".

If you habitually hardly ever look at the little screens on the gates and you don't quite know how much is on your Oyster card (because you have it automatically topped-up from your bank account whenever the balance dips below £5) then it is easy for an uncompleted journey to happen without you being aware of it.

However (and this is where we get to the idea) if the "Uncompleted Journey" fare was £3.99 then if you should ever see a balance on your card of, say, £18.01, then you would know that an uncompleted journey had happened in the recent past - you would then be able to look at this on your Oyster history (using the self-service terminals in stations) and get it adjusted (usually the ticket staff are pretty good at refunding these).
hippo, Jun 15 2011

Transport for London Conditions of Carriage http://www.tfl.gov....-further-notice.pdf
See page 47 [friendlyfire, Jun 15 2011]

NYC Metro Card http://www.nysubway.com/metrocards/
simple is best [xenzag, Jun 16 2011]

Oyster and National Rail http://www.oyster-rail.org.uk/
An excellent guide to the nuts and bolts of the Oyster system. (Not produced by TfL.) [friendlyfire, Jun 16 2011]

Hong Kong "Octopus" Card http://www.hong-kong-travel.org/Octopus/
So much better. [DrBob, Jun 16 2011]


       Excellent idea, by that measure, you should be able to count how many pennies away from a round number you are, and that's how many "Uncompleted Journeys" you've racked up - until they amount to more than 50 or so anyway.
zen_tom, Jun 15 2011

       [hippo] The only problem I can see with this is for intermittent travellers. Since the limit for claiming overpayments is 28 days (see link), a person who only spots the odd amount when they use their Oyster after, say, a couple of months will be unable to reclaim the overpayment, and it will taunt them forever. (Unless they go to a ticket agent, put (10x + 9)p on the card, and move on with their lives.)   

       (The me-being-anal section: The maximum fare charged for an uncompleted journey is either £4.40, or £6.50, depending on what time the journey takes place, and the auto top-up threshold is £8.00.)   

       Generally, I would advise against trying to get the overpayment amended at a ticket office, because their manual adjustments don't affect the daily capping system. Maximum fares do not contribute towards the daily cap, and the station staff manually adding £x.xx to your balance will not change that.   

       Normally, if you do lots of journeys after 09:30 in zones 1-2, the daily cap of £6.60 applies. If one of your journeys is incomplete (charging you £4.40), and you get the station to adjust it (by adding £2.50 to your balance for a correct single fare of £1.90), you will end up spending £8.50 over the day, and you may never realise. If you call up TfL's Oyster department the next day, they can look at the whole day's total spending when they calculate the correction.   

       [zen_tom] Standard tube/train/bus fares being multiples of 10p, and discounted fares (for Railcard holders, children, and Income Support recipients, for example) being multiples of 5p, you wouldn't necessarily get that big a window for spotting errors in this way.
friendlyfire, Jun 15 2011

       If you swipe in and then swipe out at the same station, it charges you for two uncompleted journeys, which is entertaining as it can give you a negative balance larger than the deposit on the card.
mitxela, Jun 15 2011

       That's comparable to the use of the Oyster cards on buses - i.e. you only swipe when boarding and it's a flat fare, but we don't have free transfers within a time window. The notion of "uncompleted journeys" is really only applicable to trains.
hippo, Jun 15 2011

       I thought the Oyster card operated the turnstyle/barrier thing to let you onto the platform? In which case, how do you achieve an incomplete journey?   

       Also, why is it not called an "unbegun" journey? Things like this worry me a lot.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 15 2011

       Would it help if they called it "imperfect?"
mouseposture, Jun 15 2011

       Not very much, no.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 15 2011

pocmloc, Jun 15 2011

       //I thought the Oyster card operated the turnstyle/barrier thing to let you onto the platform?// - Yes, that's right, but one of two things may happen. Occasionally, particularly early in the morning or late at night the barriers are left open and so if you go through and forget to swipe your Oyster card over the reader or swipe it too quickly then you will end up with an "incomplete journey". Also, at busy times of the day, if you go through the barriers right behind someone else and don't swipe your Oyster card properly you will go through the barriers when they are held open for the person in front of you.
hippo, Jun 16 2011

       There are no barriers in some stations, like Finsbury Park. That's a big station too, but you're screwed if you forget to touch-in in the corridor down to the tube.
theleopard, Jun 16 2011

       Could I be the only person who detests the Oyster card? In New York City there is a far better, and of course far simpler system in place. Even the machines that dispense the cards are the epitome of good design, and a pleasure to use, but now I hear, horror of horrors that they are investigating the "benefits" of the Oyster card. DON'T DO IT! Keep the Metro Card!   

       see link.
xenzag, Jun 16 2011

       I like the Oyster card, I just hate how expensive it is to get around.
theleopard, Jun 16 2011

       NYC card gives you unlimited travel on all subways and buses which run 24 hours a day.   

       A 7 day pass cost: $29 - amazingly great value, and simplicity itself to use.
xenzag, Jun 16 2011

       So what is it you don't like [xenzag]? The fee structure, or the general ephemera and furniture that goes along with each system? I used to not like very much the long paper-ticket queues that would fill up my local tube station. While it does take a little more investment on anyone who wishes to use the system, now it's in place, and the majority of daily users are signed up, it really does run a lot more smoothly than it used to (not a difficult thing to say when talking about the Tube - but still)
zen_tom, Jun 16 2011

       100% failure rate Oyster cards for me, so either I'm incredibly absent minded (it's possible) or they are crap. So, I just buy the card tickets, which theoretically is more expensive, if the Oyster card system actually worked.
not_morrison_rm, Jun 16 2011

       [Zen-tom] Try each system and you'll soon (immediately) see the difference. In New York there is No "touching in and out" and associated penalties if you forget (commonplace). The machines that dispense the tickets are joy to use, and of course there is a single zone for the entire city.   

       Oyster is better than that which preceded it but compared to the NYC Metro Pass it's overly complex, inflexible and incredibly expensive. All that to travel on overcrowded tube trains that stop at midnight, and are like steam baths in the summer with no air-conditioning.... they should be free of charge instead of costing an arm and a leg. For once the colonies got something right.
xenzag, Jun 16 2011

       Originally, when touching your Oyster in at the start of a journey, you were only charged the cheapest possible fare from that station, and you were charged the rest when you touched out at your destination. However, when it became apparent that lots and lots of people were either (a) deliberately not touching out at stations where it was possible, or (b) carrying two oyster cards, and using one for entries and one for exits (where the correct fare was more than the sum of the minimum fares at each end), they had to change it.   

       In fact, pretty much every aspect of the Oyster system that annoys people (maximum fares, "Maximum Journey Time" restrictions, and so on) is something whose absence was massively exploited by fare dodgers. So blame them instead.   

       [not_morrison_rm] I'd be fascinated to know the details of a 100% failure rate. Do you mean no readers responded at all to the card, or you've never made a correctly-charged journey?   

       [xenzag] Inflexible in what way?
friendlyfire, Jun 17 2011

       The card snaps if you bend it.
theleopard, Jun 17 2011

       It seems to me that raising the fare by a penny would still indicate the discrepancy while appealing to the transport authority because it would slightly increase their income, while making little difference to the passenger.
nineteenthly, Jun 17 2011

       Yes, I thought of that but then I considered it more appealing if the final digit of the balance gives you the number of uncompleted journeys.

I wonder if [friendlyfire] works for TfL…
hippo, Jun 17 2011

       very clever and good idea
EdwinBakery, Jun 17 2011

       very clever and good idea
RayfordSteele, Jun 17 2011

       He does.
friendlyfire, Jun 18 2011


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