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London travel tips: transport options, fares, and ways to pay during coronavirus

London travel tips: transport options, fares, and ways to pay during coronavirus

By: Nicole Gardner | 2nd June 2020

As the UK slowly opens up, people around the country need to start travelling again. For many of us, this means using London public transport. While the coronavirus infection rate is dropping, the virus has definitely not gone. If you need to move around in London, here are some London travel tips: transport options, fares, and ways to pay during coronavirus.

Travel tips

Transport for London (TfL) has asked passengers to avoid travelling on public transport if journeys are not essential; however, as London opens up, your public transport options are increasing as well.

Because of the number of staff who are ill or have to self-isolate, TfL can’t run a full service right now. One of the conditions of the mid-May government bailout was to return to a normal service as soon as possible, at least within four weeks.

TfL is ramping up services and giving progressively more transport options.

At the moment, all trains, 85% of buses, 80% of the Dockland Light Railway (DLR), and 75% of tube services are running, but are operating at considerably reduced capacity. Some tube stations are still closed to allow their staff to help out at busier stations.

Most double-decker buses can only carry 20 people, while single-decker buses can take six to ten. Even with all services running, the safe capacity will still only be 13-15% of normal.

Payment tips


In April, TfL banned boarding via the front doors of buses to reduce the risk to bus drivers, and made bus travel free for everyone.

Since then, TfL has improved protection for drivers and added protective screens.

Reinstating fares is a requirement of the government bailout. TfL expects all London buses will have returned to front-door boarding by mid-June. On buses with front door boarding, you will need to start paying fares again.

To reduce the number of people using the public transport network, free transport for children and over 60s is suspended. If you’re in this group, you’ll need to pay your fares as well.

Payment methods

Don’t worry, there are several safe ways to pay your fares.

Buses and most tube, train and DLR stations are only accepting contactless payments. However, if you have no choice but to use cash, you can find a list of stations accepting cash here.

On buses, the holes in the drivers’ protective screens for accepting cash payments have been sealed off, so you’ll need to find another way to pay your fare during the coronavirus.

From Saturday 30 May, you’ve needed to touch in on certain buses with your contactless card or device on the yellow card reader at the front or middle door. You can find a list of the buses here. You don’t need to touch in on other buses at the moment.

Contactless payment

The main travel tip for fare payment on London public transport is to use contactless, a safe and convenient way to pay. Contactless payment methods include Oyster cards, Travel Cards, contactless bank cards and mobile payments.

To use a contactless payment method on London transport, hold the appropriate card or your unlocked phone over the card reader when you board, and again with the same card when you leave. The system automatically deducts the correct payment from your account for the distance you’ve travelled.

If the reader doesn’t detect your card or phone, a simple tip for fixing it is to take the card out of your wallet, or your phone out of its case.

Find out more about contactless ways to pay your fares here.

Travel safety tips

Here are a few London travel tips to keep you and others safe on public transport:


Try to avoid travel in London. However, you are allowed to travel on public transport if you really have to.

Before you travel, make sure you have a way to pay your fare and a face covering.

When you travel, maintain social distancing and follow instructions to keep yourself and others safe during coronavirus.

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