Everywhere I go, every bus, plane, train, any transport I get on that I paid for I look for ways as to how I could not have paid for it. Photoshop a future date on a previous ticket, sneak onto a bus, hide in the toilet of a train, I look for little cracks in their security.
Recently, I was in London for about four days and used the underground twice a day at about £2.75 each time. Of course, I wanted to know how to do it for no money at all. At this point in my trip of one month in the UK and Ireland I had very little money left, so was going to try whether I thought I’d get caught or not.
The London underground works like NYC and Paris with its little turnstile doors and staff around so you can’t just walk down into the subway or jump over the turnstile. London works in zones though, there is a set price for each zone with maybe an additional pound each zone you travel through.
My first ticket cost £4.75 because I didn’t have a rechargeable and refundable £5 card called an Oyster card. You put money onto it, tapping it on a small machine at the station you get on and the station you get off, and it makes the ticket cheaper, £4.75 became £2.75.
That was a start. Next, I found the DLR line. Its part of the subway but reaches far out of the center and starts at the edge of it. This line has no turnstiles so you can just hop on, but it has conductors unlike the rest of the underground. Unfortunately, if you take the DLR train into a station other than a DLR station, you still need a valid ticket to get out, you’d tap the card on the same entrance turnstile and it allows you through to leave.
Now, this is the mostly in the title as literally all the rest of the underground is impervious to what I could find. I took the DLR twice without tapping my card. Look for where the conductors are on the train, they either stay in the car they are in or move a car down in the direction the train is going.
I went into the center and obviously couldn’t get out through the turnstile. First time I went to the staff and they said my card has insufficient funds. I said I just put £2.50 on for a ticket, they say it’s £2.75 and to go over there – pointing to the consoles – and to put more on. They let me through, I put some money on and walked out having not paid a dime for that ride.
The second time I had a negative balance from not tapping off a ride that I tapped on, negative eight pounds. So I put the five that was to be my money for the day on the card and got on the DLR without tapping. Got to the center and go to the staff again “confused”. They tell me to go to the person by the consoles to see what the issue is.
They can see the history of payments on the cards so be careful how you word things to them.
The man said I had an eight-pound charge for not tapping off, and he walked away. So, I looked at the machine “perplexed” for another moment and walked away without paying for a second ride.
It seems, from my experience, that the only way to cheat the underground is through the DLR and some clever excuses. Not very great advice or help, but it’s all I found and all I think there is to find unless you start hacking the card system at home. I’ve learned of ways to do it in Paris, but that’s maybe for another time.