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i travel - The Villages

hutch0
Date: 2007-11-30 23:39
Subject: i travel
Security: Public
Location:the utility room in the sky
Mood:calmcalm
Music:porcupine tree
I kept meaning to post this during the week, but various things prevented me, and some nights I just plain forgot. Anyway.

Mindful of the problems I had with tickets last week, on Monday I made sure that I was at my station bright and early, with plenty of time to renew my travelcard. I got there and there was no queue at the ticket window. So I stomp up to the window and proffer up my expired travelcard, and the chap behind the window says, "Sorry, mate, I can't do any tickets. My printer's broken down."
I didn't even bother with a hard stare. There are two machines outside the station to buy generic tickets and `permissions to travel.' I went to them. They were both out of order.
Okay. I have plenty of time, so I walk to Arnos Grove, determined this time to queue as long as necessary to renew my weekly travelcard.
Nobody queuing at Arnos Grove. I stomp up to the window. "We don't do paper tickets here," says the girl behind the window.
I did the hard stare. I actually drummed my fingers on the windowledge. I even raised an eyebrow.
"But I can do you an Oystercard," she went on.
(I should digress for a moment and mention that the Oystercard is a plastic card with an RFID chip embedded in it. You load it up with credit and then touch it to card readers on the ticket gates, at which point a mainframe somewhere logs your journey and deducts the price of it. There are a number of Oystercard options, including pay-as-you-go, where you pay for each leg of your journey, and the period travelcard, which works exactly the same as the paper travelcard. The Mayor is very keen on Oyster, and for that reason I have conceived a deep and abiding distrust of them. If the Mayor is keen on them, I'm fairly sure that somewhere along the line I'm being fucked over.)
So, faced with a dwindling suite of options, one of which is buying another Tube ticket with which I won't be able to get out of my destination station, I say okay, fine, gimme an Oystercard.
And what I got was basically a plastic weekly travelcard. Which I have used without any trouble at all in my peregrinations to various large-scale music stores this week. I have been pleasantly surprised, and for that reason alone I remain suspicious of the Oystercard. I know there's something wrong with these things. I just can't work out what it is. There's something I'm missing, somewhere.
Anyway, the card is a couple of unattractive shades of blue, so obviously it's the Blue Oyster Card. Will I renew it next week? Yeah. But I'm keeping my eye on it.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-01 00:31 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Ah, but I will be able to use cash. I can go to Arnos Grove and slap down a wad of money and pay for it, or I can use my credit card, as I did on Monday. All you do is present the money and they transmit the information to the chip in the card. I can even renew it online on Sunday, and the first time I touch it on a card reader on Monday the new loading is transmitted to the card. It's a miracle, and that's why I distrust it. I know there's something very wrong with this system, but my poor brain can't resolve it.

As to the name, well, I can't speak for elsewhere but in this country an instant tradition seems to have sprung up to give websites and online services ridiculous names. There's a credit card called egg, another called goldfish. There's no rhyme or reason for these names, they're just plucked out of thin air. I presume it's called Oyster because of the `world is your oyster' connotations, but in all honesty it could have been called `Suitcase' or `Sock' or `Persian Cat' and nobody would have blinked twice.
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2007-12-01 01:41 (UTC)
Subject: you say oyster, I say erster
Maybe it's called "Oyster" because its outer designs indicate the inner value, but -- as Hutch suspects -- if taken in its rawest form, there's something slimy inside. 8-)

-the ojm


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(no subject) - (Anonymous)
hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-01 18:40 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You're right, it is as though a bunch of six-year-olds has been put in charge of naming things. There are other examples, but I can't think of them right now.
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RealThog
User: realthog
Date: 2007-12-01 03:11 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
We tried to master the Oystercard during our recent stay in London, having been told earnestly by Daughter Jane that We Would Save Lots Of Munny by doing so. After an initial attempt to master the art of buying one, we decided that, Whatever It Might Cost, it was worth it to use the old-fashioned paper tickets just to prevent my remaining brain cells from fusing into a single steaming lump.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-01 18:43 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The sign-up procedure seemed impossibly difficult and involved, but at the station the girl behind the window just said, "We'll put a weekly travelcard on," and did it in less than thirty seconds.
I think the really complicated one to apply for may be the pay-as-you-go one.

Edited at 2007-12-01 06:43 pm (UTC)
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2007-12-01 05:11 (UTC)
Subject: B.O.C.
40,000 men and women every day... redefine happiness... by using their Blue Oyster Card.

Sorry, sorry! I couldn't help myself! I just had to find *some* way of working in a Don't Fear the Reaper reference.
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-01 18:44 (UTC)
Subject: Re: B.O.C.
As I would have done, had I been able to remember any of the lyrics apart from the title.
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rou_killingtime
User: rou_killingtime
Date: 2007-12-03 15:50 (UTC)
Subject: Re: B.O.C.
As much as I wish I could take credit for having an excellent memory, the opposite is true :(

Online lyric searches are my friends...
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-03 21:44 (UTC)
Subject: Re: B.O.C.
Of course, we have online lyric searches now, don't we. You know, I've been using the internet for, what, eight or nine years now, and there's still an enormous amount of stuff I forget you can do with it.
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calcinations
User: calcinations
Date: 2007-12-01 16:33 (UTC)
Subject: I can think of a possible problem
insofar as it is just a card with a chip, how do you know when you are using it in a cost effective manner? At least with peak, offpeak and other types of paper ticket it is usually fairly clear, whereas if you justload the card up with credit, what is to stop you accidentally using it in the most expensive manner?

Mind you, I don't know much about London transport. First time I was on the underground I was completely confused, although fortunately my friend guided me around. But a fwe weeks ago I got from Kings Cross to some place out near Richmond by underground and overground without any trouble at all. Something actually works in london!
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hutch0
User: hutch0
Date: 2007-12-01 18:59 (UTC)
Subject: Re: I can think of a possible problem
Apparently it's easy to do just that with the pay-as-you-go cards. You also have to be careful to touch the reader at both ends of the journey or you wind up paying much more, for reasons I'm not certain of. The remaining cash on the card does flash up on a screen when you use the gate, but it's only up for a moment and at rush-hour you're usually moving as quickly as possible to get through the gate with everybody else.
The travelcard version works just like a paper travelcard - you can make as many journeys as you want, at peak and offpeak times, so long as you stay within the zones you've paid for.

I'll give London Transport its due, when it works well it really works well. It just doesn't seem to happen all that often. Not when I'm travelling, anyway.
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