But in a transformer the coils are very close to each other, and are wrapped around the same lump of iron. With the devices the coils and cores are separate. Magnetic fields decay exponentially so even a small gap will reduce the transmitted power by a fair bit. There seems to be various proposed methods to get around this problem, but none of them seem to be significantly better than the others.
Interesting point about electronics reducing the idle currents, as this would be another issue.
If you get on a bus and travel 200 yards with an Oyster Card it does cost 90p(about US$90). However you don't because for most people it's quicker to walk. For longer distance bus trips it costs... 90p. If you travel enough in one day on a Pay As You Go Oyster it maxes out at the cost of the cheapest travelcard for the journeys you have made. Thus you get the cheapest possible tickets without thinking about it. Compare this approach to that of mobile phone companies... The price is competitive with most other cities in the UK. Thus if you made lots of 200 yard journeys every day it wouldn't cost anywhere near 90p a ride.
I've certainly not noticed the distance of bus routes getting any shorter. Generally long distance journeys(>1.5miles) are made by Tube, DLR or Train. The Mayor of London tax is included as part of the Council Tax. House prices around outer London are very high, as some of the areas are really nice compared with some of the grottier inner city areas, thus their Council Tax is higher. Public transport in London is far better than it is in most UK cities. To find better you need to go to a city that has had predominantly Labour councils for the last few decades. A lot of the recent improvements in London are funded by the Congestion Charge.
For a free ride, get a bike...
Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.