London is serviced by an extensive network of transport including the London Underground ‘Tubes’ and red double deck buses. They are easy to use, once you know how. My top three tips are to:
- understand the tickets and zones
- purchase an Oyster Card and/or a TravelCard
- use public transport particularly the London Underground ’Tube’ and the red double deck buses.
Understanding Tickets and Zones
London’s transport services are divided into six zones with the price of your ticket depending on which zone/s you’re travelling through. Zone 1 covers central London and zones 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 continue in rings going away from the centre. The more zones you travel through the more expensive the ticket. Keep that in mind when you are travelling for the day.
Get yourself an Oyster Card and/or a TravelCard
Ensure one of the first things you do is to get yourself an Oyster Card – it works out much cheaper to have one of these cards than buying tickets as you go. This electronic smart-card can be topped up and used on the Tube, overground rail, the bus network and the Thames River boats. You can buy one at a Tube station, some convenience stores and online.
It will cost you £5 when you first get your Oyster Card, but this deposit is refundable on return and believe me, having one of these will save you loads of money. To explain why here is an example: a journey on the Tube will cost you £4.30 if you pay by cash on the day but if you use your Oyster Card is will only cost £2. Pretty easy to see why getting an Oyster Card will provide you with savings on your travel around London.
Another advantage to an Oyster Card is that you top it up with cash as you go which will be deducted every time you swipe it for a journey. You can top up in a number of ways including at the Tube station ticket booths, self-service machines or online. Or you can set your Oyster to be topped up automatically from your bank account whenever it falls below a certain balance.
If you are working and commuting regularly get yourself a Travelcard. Travelcards, or season tickets, are also a good and cheap way to travel, especially if you are working and commuting, as they allow you unlimited Tube, bus and train travel in designated zones.
Use all of the types of public transport
One thing I love about London transport is the different types of transport available. I love the London Underground or Tube as it is quick and easy to use. Yes, to the tourist it can be, but to those who rely on the daily services it can be a nightmare particularly when you are in a hurry to get somewhere and their is a signal failure. The Tube reminds me of a nursery rhyme where the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead is either very, very good or awful.
I also love riding on the red London Buses. Hopping on and hopping off where ever I like. But my favourite part is riding up the top, particularly in the front row so I can see all the famous London sites go by.
Do as I do and visit the Transport for London website www.tfl.gov.uk for maps, ticket prices and a handy journey planner.