Labour say passengers using Oyster PAYG and Contactless are making the same journeys but where Contactless fares are capped weekly, Oysters are capped daily which means they're paying more. London Assembly Labour transport spokesperson Val Shawcross said:
“Boris Johnson has repeatedly said that Oyster would always be the cheapest way to travel but that simply isn’t true. There is now a worrying gap between the prices paid by Contactless passengers and those using Oyster.
“What we now know is that many people in London who regularly hit the Oyster daily fare cap are potentially paying far more than those using Contactless despite being told it was the cheapest way to travel."
Labour press release states:
A peak-time commuter who hits the daily cap travelling between zones 4 and 7 for example would pay £19.60 a day using Oyster. On Contactless this would only cost £29.40 for a whole week meaning savings of £107.80 over Oyster if they were to hit the daily cap for a whole week. For those only commuting Monday to Friday, the saving on Contactless would still be £68.60.
A zone 1-6 commuter who hits the peak-time daily cap would save £53.40 per week by switching from Oyster to Contactless.
Londonist's own tube travel expert Geoff Marshall gave BBC London an overview of the sums this morning and we think Labour's maths might be a bit flawed.
TfL's guide to fares says the daily peak Oyster fare is capped at £19.60, but if you're unlucky enough to work seven days a week you'd pay £11.60 at the weekend, so the weekly cost would actually be £121.20 (£19.60 x 5 and £11.60 x 2) rather than £137.20 (£19.60 x 7).
The weekly Contactless fare is £29.40 so this would mean the saving would be £91.80 rather than Labour's figure of £107.80. But we reckon you'd have to be making an awful lot of journeys in zone 4-7 for this to become a problem, so is this a good example?
Perhaps a slightly better one would be if every day from Monday to Thursday, you made several Contactless journeys within zone 1-3 which were capped at £10.60. The weekly cost would be £42.40, but a weekly zone 1-3 travelcard is £36.80. The same thing on Oyster PAYG would cost £42.40.
So by our calculations, if you're doing nothing more than a return journey to work, then you won't pay more to use Oyster PAYG. If you're doing a large number of journeys as part of your working day, we'd recommend checking TfL's fares to see if it's cheaper for you to use Contactless or PAYG.
Photo by Chris Ballard in the Londonist Flickr pool.