Travel free in buses and trams with Zip card


Youngsters in London can make big savings on their travel by simply signing up


Tags: Kulveer Ranger, Steve Burton, Travelcards, Zip Oyster photocard.


20th August 2009: If you are a foreigner in the UK with no knowledge of right to free travel on buses and trams, or simply worried about cash traveling out of your little one’s pockets while passing through the streets of London in the days of economic downturn, just turn to a Zip card

That’s right. You can wipe away the beads of anxiety from your brow, and get your children the best travel deal with a Zip card. In fact, young Londoners can make big savings on their travel in the capital by signing up to “Transport for London’s Zip card scheme”.

They can then take advantage of their right to free travel on buses and trams in the capital for the remainder of the holidays, and even when the new school term starts in September.

Information on the cards is also available in Bengali, Chinese, Czech, French, Greek, Gujarati, Hindi, Punjabi, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese.

The Mayor of London’s advisor on Transport Policy, Kulveer Ranger, elaborates “Young Londoners have the capital at their finger tips, thanks to their Zip cards. Free travel is a tremendous privilege and potentially a massive saving for parents. Before the next school term, it is really important parents check their children have their Zip cards if they’re going to be catching the bus to school.”

The Zip Oyster photocard, in fact, enables 11 to 5 year-olds; and 16 to18 year-olds; travel free on London’s buses and trams. Many young Londoners have taken advantage of the benefit. As such, the parents and guardians have been advised to make sure the children carry the card every day, if they take the bus to school, because any child travelling without it will have to pay for their journey.

TfL Director of Community Safety, Enforcement and Policing, Steve Burton says: "This scheme is there to help the families in London that need it most. It is especially important in the current climate to ensure that no-one misses out”.

There is another advantage to it. The cards are bringing in discipline of sorts. Burton adds: "The Behaviour Code advises that ‘you should always act sensibly and treat others as you would like to be treated’.

“In addition, all Zip Oyster photocard holders must always touch in when boarding buses and trams, and must touch in at the beginning and touch out at the end of their journey when using the Tube, DLR and London over-ground services. Since this rule was introduced last year we have heard from passengers and bus drivers that behaviour among school children is improving significantly”.

Zip Oyster photocard application forms are available from post offices within London. It may take up to two weeks to process your application. The 11-18 year-olds, who do not have a valid Oyster photocard, must pay the cash fare on buses and trams. Proof of application will not be accepted by the bus drivers as a valid ticket for travel.

You can apply up to one month before your 11th birthday for your 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard. There are currently more than 515,000 cardholders on the under 16 Oyster photocard schemes. As many as 160,000 16+ Oyster photocard holders have the free bus and tram concession and 12,000 have the half-rate travel concession.

Holders of 16+ Oyster photocards moving into a second year of education or training, and holders of under 16 Oyster photocards due to expire on 30th September, 2009, will be sent an application form to their home address, with a reply paid envelope to send the form directly back to TfL.

Applications for the 16+ card will be available from and accepted at Post Offices from 1st September.  These must be submitted by 16th September to ensure they receive their new 16+ Oyster photocards by 30th September.

Under 16’s can buy child–rate cash single, Day and 3 Day Travelcards without a Zip Oyster photocard.  The Zip Oyster photocard allows child-rate pay as you go, which is cheaper than cash. They can also buy child-rate Travelcard season tickets with an Oyster photocard.

Under 16s can buy child rate cash single tickets on Tube, DLR and London over-ground services without an Oyster photocard. All 16+ Oyster photocard holders can buy seven Day, monthly or longer period Travelcard and Bus & Tram Pass season tickets at child-rate and pay as you go at half the adult-rate, even if they don’t qualify for free bus and tram travel.

First applications for an Oyster photocard are processed free of charge. Applicants need to provide a photograph and proof of age at the time of application. The 16+ applicants for free travel need to have their forms validated by their school, college or training provider and provide proof that they live in a London borough.

If an Oyster photocard has been lost, stolen or damaged, the cardholder will have to reapply to get a duplicate and pay a non-refundable fee of £10.

Further details can be had from

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