Compared to Chicago or Mexico City, the London transit system is VERY expensive. Mexico City is one of the cheapest in the world, with Metro (subway) rides costing 3 pesos (about 25 cents), and buses are very cheap as well. We were supplied with transit passes to profile our visit to Chicago, but by world standards Chicago is about average with single fares at about $2.25, and a 7 day pass at $23.
But London is expensive and it doesn't look like we're going to be supplied with passes for this visit so we have to plan carefully.
The city is broken into nine zones, starting with zones one and two which make up the central core.
The London tube (subway) system.
We are fortunate to be able to be staying with Ruth's aunt who lives in zone two. This will keep our costs at the lower end of the scale, but even the low end is expensive. A single one way ticket costs £4.30 ($6.90) if you pay cash. But it looks like hardly anybody does this because there are two different types of passes that are better suited.
They have an "Oyster Card" which you have to pay £3 ($4.85) just to activate. Then you put a certain amount of credit on the card, and anytime you use it throughout the day it automatically debits the card at the price of the cheapest single fare, which in zones one and two would be £2 ($3.25). Then at the end of the day the maximum you would be charged is the price of an off peak day pass, which is £7 ($11.30).
Or, we could buy a 7 day pass which costs £29.20 ($47.00) each. This would be the most versatile, but I don't think we will be going out and using the system every single day. Or, we could buy the single day off peak pass. If we go with the Oyster card, we'd need to put on a certain amount and try and be accurate since once the money is on there you can't ask for a refund if you don't use it.
Complicated stuff! Why can't they make it more simple?? We've got a little time to think about it, but we're leaning towards the 7 day pass. It gives us tube rides in zones one and two, plus overland buses in all zones and then we wouldn't have to think about it or worry about a couple more pounds one way or the other. But we want to decide soon because they can mail us the passes in advance if we get our order in in the next day or two.
Thoughts or comments welcome!