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Thursday, July 21, 2011

In London - The World Is Your Oyster

London Transportation offers the Oyster Card for buses and subways.

You simply swipe the Oyster Card by the reader and it subtracts money from your account.

In my opinion - London has the best transportation system in the world. When traveling with 4 or more - London's cute little black cabs make sense. The drivers are well trained - speak excellent English - and do not expect tips.

But for normal everyday one or two people traveling - the buses and tubes are top drawer. They are very clean and efficient. You can get anywhere in the city or suburbs this way.

I like the payment system very much. They have a credit card called the Oyster Card. You buy one and put some cash on it - at the ticket window - at the ticket machines - or on your computer at home. Then - when you go through the turnstile - the little yellow reader both reads your card - but also tells you how much credit you have left. When you exit the subway again - the sensor reads your card.

When you get on a bus - the yellow card reader checks your card and charges you accordingly. It warns you when your balance is getting low - and if you do not have enough money on your card - a red warning light flashes and a warning buzzer goes off.

At home- you can go on your computer - see every spot you used the card. You can add money using a credit card number. It is a very neat way to keep track of where you traveled - also have an account of your travel expenses. If you card has been lost or stolen - you can immediately void the card before someone uses your cash to travel. Remember - there is a documented record of where you were - and when you were there. The might have to end up explaining how someone took you card from your wallet - used it - and then returned it to your wallet without you knowing it.

This morning - I got a pleasing email. Transport of London (the people in charge of Oyster Cards) sent me a letter. It said they made a mistake and they are crediting my card £6.90. That is about $11.00.

If you travel a lot - you can buy unlimited cards for days - weeks - or months. I checked and an unlimited card for a week is £27.00 - which is about $40. Parents can buy their kids cards - and know the money is going for transportation - not other things.

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