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Ananya

January 16th, 2023

How to navigate the public transport system in London

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Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Ananya

January 16th, 2023

How to navigate the public transport system in London

0 comments

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

With vast bus and rail networks, travelling in London using public transport is not as complicated as it might seem, and with a bit of planning, it can even be affordable!

The London Underground or the “tube” as Londoners call it, is the oldest metro system in the world. While the tube maps might look notoriously hard to understand, people quickly get the hang of it. As a guide, the major tube lines are Bakerloo, Central, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria, and Waterloo & City. Each line has its own colour, so keep an eye out for these on the train handles and railings in case you get on the wrong one!

Apart from the tube, the Overground train system extends to cover the Greater London area. Both these systems run pretty frequently, so you might need to wait just a few minutes for a train. However, be mindful of the train schedules, as only a handful of lines and stations have trains running into late hours of the night. As the train stations tend to get quite busy during peak hours, keep an on your belongings, as pickpocketing can sometimes happen. To blend in with the locals, also remember the cardinal rule – stand on the right side of the escalators and walk on the left!

London also has various bus and tram routes, which often run 24 hours a day and are more convenient for late night journeys. I personally love taking the bus as it provides me with great sightseeing opportunities! Buses are also cheaper than trains, with a flat fare of £1.65 per single journey. You can take two bus journeys for the price of one if you touch in using the same card on the second journey within an hour, thanks to the “Hopper Fare”.

If planning your bus or train journey seems daunting, there are various online resources and free apps that can help you plan better. I use CityMapper as a travel guide, as it can plan train, bus, cycling and even walking routes when you enter the starting and ending points of your journey. TFL also has its own app called TFL Go which works similarly to CityMapper and provides live bus and train times for each station and line. This app is also useful in planning accessible journeys as it contains information on toilet availability, platform access and lift and escalator status.

For buses and trains, payment can be done through contactless cards, topping up an Oyster card or using a travel card. TFL machines are used for both trains and buses. If you are looking to save some money on travel, here are two tips:

  1. Avoid peak times – not only are tubes crowded (and often stuffy!) during rush hour but also more expensive. During peak times, you are automatically charged a peak fare, which applies between 6.30am and 9.29am and 4pm and 6.59pm. This is when the cost of your journey increases significantly. To avoid travelling during these hours, you can plan your journey in advance.
  2. Get travel discounts – it may be the case that you have lectures requiring you to travel regularly during peak hours, but there are various ways to still save money on travel. If you are over the age of 18, a student, and live in a London borough, you are eligible for discounted travel with an Oyster photocard. This saves you 30% off adult-rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram passes. You can also choose to buy a Railcard, which gives you 30% off travel on the National Rail Services (which you can use to travel outside London) and then link this to your Oyster card. Doing so gives you a 34% discount on single off-peak fares on the London Underground and DLR services. However, be mindful that this discount does not apply to journeys during peak hours.

With a myriad of public transport options in London, there is often more than one way to get from one point to the other. Whether it’s travelling to campus, going for dinner on the other side of the city, or exploring new places, London’s public transport system has got you covered!

About the author

Ananya

Hi! I'm Ananya, an MSc student in the Organisational and Social Psychology programme. I'm originally from Delhi and have been living in the UK for the past 4 years. I'm very excited to be studying at LSE and experiencing life in London. In my free time, I like to cook and bake, go on walks in one of the many beautiful parks in London, explore cafés and restaurants, and watch Netflix shows!

Posted In: London life

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