BBC News recently reported that fare dodgers throughout London have cost Transport for London, or more commonly known as TFL, over £100 million per year. Each year fare dodgers find different ways to avoid paying fares when travelling across buses, trains and throughout other forms of transport in London. However, in recent months there has been a crackdown on those thinking they can avoid these fares, where a journey that costs less than £2 can then turn into a journey that costs £40 or £80.
There are a lot of reasons why people decide that they’re exempt from paying the full fare for their journey. Throughout living in London I really have heard every excuse under the sun, ranging from they forgot to top up their Oyster Card or their phone ran out of battery so they cannot prove they had tapped in. In other circumstances, the bus driver may let the passenger onto the bus in full knowledge and awareness that they have not paid their fare but may be fooled by the excuse “I’m only travelling for a few stops” or “I’m waiting for my pass to arrive in the post”. Even though these are valid reasons, they aren’t valid enough to excuse one person being exempt from paying when every other passenger has paid their fare. In a sense it’s like a slap in the face, if one person is let off then why shouldn’t everyone else be?
Many people will question how fare dodgers get through the barriers at stations as well as get onto buses without touching their Oyster Card or credit/debit card onto the yellow reader. The answer is unfortunately a lot easier than it sounds, on buses, passengers can simply state that they’ve lost their pass or simply jump on the back of the bus and move undetected. The most easiest maneuver would be following a passenger when they’re tapping in or out at a station, since some passengers will go through barriers that will stay open for longer. Even with the rise of technology that Transport for London are using to catch these fare dodgers, there will simply be too many people to catch and the cycle will begin again. Regardless, this is not an excuse for fare dodgers to keep on carrying out their act of avoidance since eventually they will be caught. Bus inspectors and plain clothes detectives could be anywhere and could be anyone - they simply hide in plain sight and wait for the right moment to confront those avoiding paying the full fare.
Fare evasion happens in many shapes and forms, there are hundreds of different reasons as to how fare evasion is committed. The most common being that people may not touch in and out when travelling throughout London - whether it be at their original destination or at their final destination. Another form of fare evasion would be using an Oyster Card that’s registered to someone whose entitled to free or discounted travel, these people being those with a Freedom Pass or an 11-15 Oyster Card. If caught by a ticket inspector then you would be charged a penalty fare for knowingly using a pass that doesn’t belong to you and the pass will then be taken off the person for abuse of the card. If you’re carrying an Oyster Card which requires additional information to be carried at all times when using the card and you’re found without this information, another penalty fare will be given out. Fare evasion has even gone as far as people buying an Oyster Card with Zones 1-2 on them and tapping in or out at these destinations and then avoiding tapping in or out when travelling beyond these zones. Therefore, they will avoid paying the correct fare that’s a lot more than what their current fare already is. Or more simply people will jump the barrier or walk straight through if the barriers are open, this is blatant fare evasion for fare dodgers that really have no care for paying their way.
Unsurprisingly, fare evasion happens a lot more commonly to those who do not commit fare evasion on purpose. For example, if I was travelling throughout rush hour and I tapped my Oyster Card on the reader while the barrier was open then I may mistake my card tapping for the person in front of me. Then if I got to my final destination and I was caught out by a ticket inspector then even though I didn’t evade the fare on purpose, there is no reason as to why I shouldn’t be given a penalty fare. It also happens to those travelling on London buses who may not be able to reach a reader if they get onto a packed bus or simply because they’re told that the machine isn’t working. Regardless, passengers have a responsibility to make sure that they have made an effort to pay their full fare. There is simply no excuse that will stand with a ticket inspector when you’re face to face with one throughout an unpaid journey. Moving forward, passengers should make sure that they’ve tapped in and out when travelling on the London Underground or tapping your card onto the reader when boarding a London bus.
Even though a journey here and there doesn’t seem much, in a sense it may be only a couple of pounds and pence, the overall reality comes out to over £100 million in unpaid fares for Transport for London. With this extra money Transport for London could easily make major improvements to the network as well as employing more people to make the transport network more efficient. In a sense, imagine having a smoother journey as well as improved station facilities across London. Even though those will argue that these penalty fares in turn cover the losses that Transport for London state, people forget that members of staff will be using their time and efforts elsewhere - these people also needing wages and essentially resources from Transport for London. As someone who travels throughout London it’s infuriating to see members of the public try and avoid a fare that can be as little as £1.50 - something that everyone needs to pay regardless of your objections as to why you shouldn’t.
The London Living Wage, which currently stands at £10.55 per hour, which was designed to reflect the expensive costs that come with living and working in London. This wage was introduced to make sure that people living and working in London are compensated enough to cover all costs they may incur, as there’s a higher cost of living in London compared to other parts of the UK. As someone who lives and works in London, the London Living Wage has introduced a step forward for those living and working in London who face the rising costs of living in the capital. With transport prices increasing as well as housing becoming harder and more expensive to gain, there’s more chance that the London Living Wage will help people make ends meet rather than living in poverty.
The London Living Wage is currently the highest form of paid wage in the UK as the minimum wage for workers aged 25 and over stands at a mere £8.21. For workers unfortunate to be younger than the desired age mark then workers under 25 will earn £7.70 if they’re aged between 21 and 24. It gets even worse for workers who are aged 18 to 20 as they will get £6.15 and those under 18 will earn £4.35. These figures stated come from the National Minimum Wage section from the GOV.UK website. More information can be found by clicking here.
However, the problem with the London Living Wage is that companies aren’t legally forced to pay the London Living Wage to workers whereas they’re legally compelled to pay the National Minimum Wage. The Living Wage Foundation state that there’s currently 5,672 employers throughout the UK paying the Living Wage to workers, these companies including Ikea, Nestle and the People’s Health Trust. The Living Wage is available to workers across the UK, but is £9.00 as costs of living are deemed less expensive than London. Most companies are reluctant to pay the London Living Wage as this would mean that they’d be paying more for labour that they could simply get away with my paying the National Minimum Wage. The reason some companies offer The London Living wage is to firstly attract future employees by their high hourly rate and the second reason being is that a long term investment would result in happier staff which then in turn leads to positive experiences for customers. In layman’s term, it’s a win-win situation for both companies and employees.
With The London Living Wage so high, a beneficial wage that’s meant to help those working and living in London, it does have its downsides unfortunately. If someone working in London works 40 hours per week in line with the London Living Wage, they’re expected to earn £1,688 monthly which is pre-tax income. However, with tax and National Insurance contributions this leaves the employee with around £1,400 without the option of paying into a pension. If an employee received only The National Minimum Wage but worked the same amount of hours with the addition that they’re aged over 25 they would earn £1,313.60 which is pre-tax income. With tax and National Insurance contributions this leaves the employee with around £1200 without the option of paying into a pension. A mere £2.34 seems to make a lot of difference in this situation as it can result in the employee taking home an additional £200 per month after deductions. Once again in layman’s terms, the more you earn the more you will be subject to tax and financial deductions.
Luckily, for those who are aged 25 and under, The London Living Wage can lead to a substantial rise in payment and from there living conditions. If someone, who was aged 18 to 20 earned £10.55 compared to a mere £6.15 (in line with the National Minimum Wage) this would mean an improvable wage with an extra £4.40 per hour. If we used the same example with an employee working 40 hours a week, this would lead to an extra £704 per month if paid The London Living Wage. Overall, I think we can all agree that The London Living Wage is a step in the right direction for those who are living and working in London who find the prices and costs of living here unfavourable.
Even though London is a hub of entertainment and a city that many people travel all across the world to visit, it comes along with the reputation of being one of the most expensive cities in the world. As I live in London, I know first hand how expensive certain aspects can be but there is ways to avoid this and this blog post is dedicated to outlining how much money it would cost per day to visit London. The factors included will be: accommodation, transport (including transport to and from the airport), food and drink as well as tours and attractions.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of different forms of accommodations in the city of London. There are a range of different hostels, apartments, hotels, B&B's and homes that can be rented out for your stay. In London a rule of thumb would be that the closer you are to Central London the higher the cost of your stay will be, if you stay around areas near London Bridge, Waterloo and even Westminster you will begin to see the star rating of these hotels go up as well as the prices. One of the most famous hotels in London is the Shangri-La At The Shard, with prices starting at just over £400. However, there are a lot of cheaper options in London with brands such as Premier Inn and Travelodge offering a basic hotel room with basic amenities with a low price tag. If you just want a room with a bed to sleep in, a shower and bathroom area to use then this would be your best bet. After a whole day of walking around, shopping and then seeing the attractions London has to offer this would be your best bet as you'll be too tired at the end of the day to make a fuss about the amenities of the hotel. If you're staying in London for an extended period of time then an Airbnb would be perfect - a room or an entire flat/house to yourself would be the way to make yourself at home and save money on going out for meals. The same applies to B&B's in London, you're given a room and breakfast - all you need to get you ready for the day ahead of you!
If you're unsure on what form of accommodation you would like to stay in during your visit to London, I made a blog post regarding the advantages and disadvantageous of each accommodation type. More information can be found by clicking here!
Total: £50 (Average)
Transport is one area that I've gone into extensive detail about: whether it's buying an Oyster card or travelling to and from the airport into Central London as well as the different forms of transport around London. The cost of transport depends on whether you're determined to save money by walking throughout London during the day or whether you're the person that would prefer to get private taxis everywhere. Mostly tourists use a combination of buses and Tubes on the London Underground to get around London as they're the modes of transport that cover nearly every place in London, especially the tourist attractions and landmarks. I would roughly estimate that a tourist visiting London would spend around £15 if you stick to using public transport but can go up to £50-100 if you're using private modes of transport such as taxis. Another use for public transport would be getting to and from the airport, which can cost as little as £3.10 for a single journey, which I made a whole blog post dedicated to as it was highly requested.
Links to other blogs regarding transport around London and the use of an Oyster card can be found here:
Total: £15 (+£5 if you need to purchase an Oyster card)
Food & Drink
London has over 80,000 restaurants within London, all with their different cuisines and price ranges. If you want an expensive and rather fancy meal then this may set you back around £80+ per person for a three course meal and a drink. In my opinion as much as these restaurants pride themselves on their star rating as well as their high quality service, there are much cheaper places to eat in London that would be able to fit everyone's budgets. I would suggest at least trying a full English breakfast while you're there as well as the fish and chips - they're the best! There are a range of different options to buying food and drink while in London, some people prefer to buy food from supermarkets whereas others prefer going out for all three meals during the day. I've listed both of these options to give you guidance in terms of price:
Total: £40-£50 (Average)
Tours & Attractions:
There are a range of major landmarks and attractions around London that everyone wants to visit such as The London Eye and The Shard. These attractions can become very expensive depending on the time of year you're visiting as well as if you have prebooked your tickets or not. I cannot put an accurate price on how much a tourist would spend per day on tours and attractions since some walking tours are pay as you feel as well as some attractions having no admission fee. For example, the Tate is completely free to visit as well as tours such as Strawberry Tours means you can see the sights of London with added information for a price that you can decide that fits your budget. Regardless, not all sights are free and most require a fee to enter such as The London Eye, The Tower of London and London Zoo. These can create quite a massive dent in your budget but on a previous blog post I went in detail regarding The London Pass and whether it was worth it. You pay a specific price for the amount of time you want the pass for and it allows you free admission into certain attractions. More information can be found here!
If you chose to buy souvenirs for friends and family I would not recommend doing this on Bond Street or Oxford Circus since these shops have very high prices as they know tourists will pay them. If you want to get a souvenir then I would recommend either buying some from the attraction you've seen or buying them from smaller souvenir shops around Westminster and surrounding areas. If you also want to do some shopping while you're in London then Oxford Circus and Westfield would be the best chance of finding something you'd like. Within these places there are a range of different places to eat as well as shops, the most popular being Primark at Bond Street and the three floor Lush Store located just next to Oxford Circus. If you want to travel further down onto New Bond Street and Mayfair then be warned that the price tags will make you read it twice - it's very expensive.
Total: £50-200 (Average)
This price is also dependant on whether you've prebooked attractions and tours as well as if you decide you want to go shopping while on your trip to London.
You could certainly spend a lot less than this when planning to visit London, if you decide to go for a cheaper hotel and to walk to certain attractions rather than using public transport. On the other hand you could spend a lot more if you have the budget and want to have a luxurious stay while in London with a luxury hotel and visit high class restaurants.
What is the London Pass?
The London Pass is a pass aimed at tourists visiting London which grants access to over 80 attractions all over London - some of these attractions are very popular such as the Tower of London as well as A View From The Shard. Some of the attractions which are included aren't found on mainstream websites or guides of what to do in London but still offer a fun and interesting experience such as The London Bridge Experience or a London Bicycle Tour. It also includes a Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus to go around London which allows tourists to enjoy the sights of London from just one place for a day. The London Pass also allows Fast Track Entry for 6 attractions at the moment, such as St Paul's Cathedral and London Zoo, which are some of the most popular sights in London. This unfortunately means that these queues are very long and sometimes people queue up for hours to go inside. The London Pass doesn't only offer entrance to attractions but also has a handy guidebook with specific information regarding each attraction: transport details, the exact address as well as the opening times. This is perfect for organising what you would want to do each day and in turn would allow you to get the most out of your pass. The London Pass also has a handy app which is useful for storing your tickets as well as having information regarding the pass all in one place.
These prices represent the prices of the London Pass in January 2019 - these prices may change over the course of the year and time. These prices are also representative of a London Pass bought without the additional option of preloaded credit topped onto an Oyster.
Prices can be found here: https://www.londonpass.com/london-pass-prices.php
An Example Itinerary Including Prices & Savings - 3 Day Pass Excluding Travel
The London Pass is priced at £114 for 3 Days excluding travel but this three day itinerary comes to a total of £233 which is a saving of £119. I made this itinerary as realistically as I could because even with a fast track entry there is no way that a tourist could go to 10 attractions in one day. This being because you need to take into consideration the time it takes to travel to the attraction as well as including time for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as whether they have all day to go sightseeing. With this in mind I made an itinerary where the landmarks and attractions were close to each other, in turn saving time and money. For example, Tower Bridge and The London Bridge Experience are within walking distance of each other and have good transport links between the two.
Is the London Pass Worth It?
Taking everything into consideration the London Pass is worth it only if you have a clear plan of what you want to do in London as well as having knowledge of roughly how long to travel and visit each sight you want to go to. If you plan a whole itinerary with fast tracks then you will certainly get your money's worth as you won't be waiting in queues, unfortunately only 6 sights currently offer this feature. If you travel to London in the summer and want to go into museums and places of interest that don't have a Fast Track Entry feature then you may even spend hours queuing, which would be hard especially if you have younger children and if it's the summer. If you have a specific budget for travelling to London then buying this pass, especially if you invest into buying a travel pass, will allow you to lower your expenses. The only thing left to pay for would be the 'I <3 London' t-shirts, other souvenirs and money to cover food. If you're travelling without kids then I would suggest getting the London Pass as it may mean you can go out earlier and stay out longer if possible - this meaning you'd be able to get more done. If you are travelling to London with children then this pass may not be entirely worth the cost since children may not enjoy attractions such as The London Bridge Experience and may find museums boring. In addition the London Pass assumes that you will go out everyday, this in reality is exhausting and you may find yourself crossing some sights from your list as you are tired from walking, especially in the summer.
Tips and tricks for what to do in London as well as travelling around it.