Everyday Dialogues: Travelling on the Tube

Oyster card o biglietto singolo cartaceo? Ecco cosa conviene acquistare per accedere ai mezzi pubblici di Londra.

Bandera UK
Daniel Francis

Speaker (UK accent)

Molly Malcolm

Speaker (American accent)

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Lea: Hi, I need to travel on the Tube, but I don’t have an Oyster card. Is that possible?

John: Yes, of course, you can still buy paper tickets. But there are Visitor Oyster cards, too, you know.

Lea: Oh, really? I didn’t know that. Isn’t that a lot more expensive, though?

John: No, fares are actually cheaper than single paper tickets or paper Travelcards.

Lea: But don’t I need to pay for the card itself

John: Yes, it’s a contactless card that costs £5. You load it with credit which you pay as you go.

Lea: I’m only here for the weekend. What happens if I haven’t spent it all?

John: Whatever credit you have left never expires. Then, if you come back, you just top it up.

Lea: Oh, well, I’m sure I’ll be back, so I guess that’ll be useful. OK, one Oyster card please, with £15 credit!

John: Here you go. Make sure you touch your card to the reader at the start and the end of your journey, so you’ll be charged the right fare.

Lea: Will do. Thank you!


The London metro (or ‘underground’) system is commonly called the ‘Tube’, as it is shaped like a tube.

An Oyster card is a smart card used for travel on the London Underground, Overground, bus, tram and river bus services.

Paper tickets are the traditional travel passes, made of paper.

The cost of a journey on public transport is called a ‘fare’.

A one-day travel pass on London’s public transport is called a ‘Travelcard’.

A contactless card is a smart card with an embedded chip, that needs to held to a reader to be scanned.

To ‘load’ a card with ‘credit’ means to put it money on it electronically.

When you ‘pay as you go’, you pay for services in the moment you use them.

To expire’ means ‘to run out’.

To top up’ a card means to add money to it when credit runs low. ‘Top up’ is a phrasal verb meaning ‘to add’ until you reach a certain level.

Here you go’ is an idiomatic expression meaning ‘Here it is’.

Will do’ is a phrase that expresses willingness to carry out a suggestion (short for “I will do that”).



Questo articolo appartiene al numero ottobre 2023 della rivista Speak Up.

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