Are your travel habits making journeys more expensive?

  • 13 May 2011
  • From the section London
  • comments

Here's a TV piece I've just done on Oyster data and how it can now be analysed to show how good commuters are at finding the cheapest fares.

The research has been carried out at University College London (UCL) by a post-doctorate researcher Neal Lathia (@neal_lathia). His website is here.

What the researchers have done is analyse Oyster data from Transport for London (TfL) over a set period and extrapolate the findings over a year. It covers data from the Tube, buses and DLR.

They claim it shows that actually most commuters' journeys are extremely predictable and that many Londoners don't buy the cheapest ticket.

For example, many use Oyster Pay As You Go when perhaps a seven-day travel card would be cheaper or an annual card would work out better. Also some people use a seven-day card and only use it twice.

Millions of Londoners making these little mistakes adds up to an overspend of £200m a year.

Figure 'overstated'

Using the data, the researchers have come up with this "decision tree". This explains what ticket you should be buying if you travel within zones 1 and 2. Have a go and see if it works.

What the researchers want is for TfL to use a commuter's travel data over a year to recommend what ticket would be cheapest - a bit like amazon.co.uk does when you buy a book.

TfL has welcomed the research but it said the figure is overstated.

It says what the research does not take into account is convenience and the millions of different little things that make lives unpredictable.

Also, not many people want to stump up for an annual ticket.

TfL says the Oyster card system is actually very efficient.

Certainly, Londoners are very savvy about which tickets they buy but, habit and convenience play a large part when sometimes cheaper tickets are available.

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