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London Transport



As soon as you get to London, transport will become an every day part of your life, you like it or not. The transport system is a huge network of tubes (Underground), buses, overland trains, black cabs, minicabs, a few trams, boats on the Thames, couches getting to the airports and outside London.

Although you're likely to use more than one means of transport, most of this page is about Underground or tube, as it will be the main means you'll be using.

London Transport is responsible for the Underground (tube) system, London buses, overground trains and the Docklands Light Railway (DLR). It has information on all London transport including fares, routes and delays. Some useful information are:

All underground stations should be able to provide you with tube and bus maps and advice on which route to take. Bus and tube fares are based on a zone system with six zones stretching out from Central London.

The cheapest way to get around London is with a Travelcard, valid on the tube/buses railway and DLR. Travelcards can be bought at all tube and rail stations as well as some newsagents. Travelcards are available in different combinations of zones and periods. Cards lasting a week or more are valid any time of the day or night and offer unlimited journeys within the zones you select. You'll need a passport photo when you buy your first weekly or monthly pass, but after that, you keep the same ID card and update your ticket each month. All full­time students aged 18-24 can now get discounts on long-term Travelcards. You'll need to get a special photocard from the students' union first, and then you'll be entitled to 30% off one-month, three-month and one-year Travelcards. Unlike regular travelcards however, they are not valid on overground rail services. On-the-spot fines are payable by anyone caught without a ticket.


The tube is the quickest way to get around London. Trains run daily (except Christmas Day), from between 5:30 and 7:00. You shouldn't normally have to wait more than ten minutes for a train. The last train on a line will be between 23:30 and 1:00 depending on the line. Crime is not a major problem, but avoid getting into an empty carriage on you own and beware of pickpockets.

London Underground offers a variety of different ticket types that are determined by how many zones you cross (1-2-3-4-5-6). As you can see, there are a total of six zones ranging from Central London to outer city fringes. You can buy the following tickets:

Make sure you purchase a ticket, as London Underground staff are ruthless and you will get a non-negotiable fine if you don't have one. Bear in mind that even if you can get in at one station without a ticket, you'll probably need one at the other end to get out of the station. Never forget that it's illegal to buy tickets from ticket touts.

Once you've purchased your ticket, you'll need to put it through the machine to get through the barriers. If you're just starting your journey the ticket will come through and you'll need to pull it from the top of the machine for the barriers to open. If you've got a single or return ticket and are at the end of your journey the machine will retain the card and the barriers will open automatically. All travelcards will be fed back to you to use again. If your ticket doesn't open the barriers, or if you have luggage there, attendants will kindly help you.



The London bus network is very extensive with the old double-decker open-back buses and new double and single decked buses covering London. Buses can take longer than the tube and the main problem is knowing where to get off. Bus conductors and drivers are usually friendly and won't mind helping out.

Travelling by bus can be a very pleasurable way of getting to know London although journeys may be lengthy during rush hour. If you're in a hurry take the tube!

Night buses run from midnight to 6:00 and have the letter "N" before the bus number. They all either used to start at or go through Trafalgar Square, while now you've to look around that area. Anyway, head there if you're in Central London and need to get home.

Bus fares are simple: all fares in Central London cost the same, and all fares in outer London cost less. If you need to take not less than three buses, get a one-day bus, so you can travel the whole day (it can't be used on night buses).

The red and yellow Stationlink buses (ph. 0207 222 1234) connect all the main London rail stations.

The UK national bus system is very good with most long distance bus trips leaving from the Victoria Coach Station (ph. 0990 808080), which is situated near the Victoria train station. National Express (ph. 0990 808080) reaches all destinations in Britain. Green Line serves the suburbs and reaches a lot of interesting places around London (ph. 0870 6087261. Eurolines (ph. 0990 010104) run coaches to over 400 towns and cities across Europe from London Victoria. Eurobus (ph. 0118 936 2320) have passes for Europe covering all zones from Spain to Germany.



After that British Rail has been privatised, there are several different companies providing rail services. For information on train services and times phone National Rail Enquiries on 0345 484950.

National Rail trains depart from key stations throughout London taking you out of London, or to areas in London that are not serviced by the Underground. You can use your Travelcard if you're keeping within your zones, or else you'll be able to purchase an extension on your Travelcard.

Some key stations are:

On some services you may be able to make large savings by booking early. Super Apex tickets offer the lowest fare but must be booked at least 2 weeks in advance, Apex tickets offer a discount for booking one week in advance. Advanced tickets need to be bought by 14:00 the day before you are due to travel. All reduced price fares are subject to availability but always be sure to ask what the cheapest available ticket is. If you are between 16 and 25 years old, and plan to use rail services frequently, you can get a Young Person's Railcard, which can save up to one third on most fares. You can pick up an application form at any main line station and you will also need to provide proof of your age and two passport photos.



Taxi Drivers are not obliged to accept a hiring of over six miles, or over 20 miles for a journey from London Heathrow Airport, but if they do, and the journey is wholly within the London area, the fare payable is as shown on the meter. If a driver accepts a hiring to a destination outside the Greater London area, the fare becomes negotiable, and should be agreed beforehand. It is accepted practice to give a tip of around 10%.

Do not use unauthorised drivers who offer their services at airports and stations.

The familiar-shaped London taxis are called black cabs. If the yellow 'For Hire' light on the roof is illuminated, you can stop the cab in the street. To hail a cab all you have to do is fling your arm up in the air like they do on the movies, though you don't need to tell "Taxi!". If the yellow light is not on and the cab is empty it usually means the cabbie is on his way home. They might stop, but they are not obligated to.

Drivers of black cabs are licensed and have passed a test called 'The Knowledge', which means they generally know the city extremely well. Black cabs are a bit more expensive than public transport, but they can carry five passengers so work out quite economical if there are a few of you. The meter is clearly visible so you can keep watch of your fare.

To book a cab by phone, call the 24 hour black cab service on (ph. 020 7286 0286), Radio Taxis (ph. 0207 272 0272) or dial a Cab (ph. 0207 253 5000). If you have any other queries call the Public Carriage Office on ph. 020 7230 1631. Addison Lee (ph. 0207 387 8888) is one of the biggest more reliable companies. Women may prefer to use Ladycabs ph. (0207 254 3501) which employs women only drivers.

Minicabs, independent taxi operators that run throughout London, are mostly cheaper than black cabs, but drivers are often untrained and occasionally dangerous: a lot of them don't know London very well at all, and some speak hardly any English. Make sure you book your minicab through an established company, agree the fare in advance (as there is not a meter in a minicab) and confirm it with the driver when the car arrives.



There are a number of improved services for both commuters and those looking for a leisure trip on the Thames. The majority of riverboat operators offer Travelcard holders a third off, and Freedom Pass Holders up to a half off, the normal adult and child prices.

For commuters there is a service from Masthouse Terrace Pier on the Isle of Dogs to Savoy Pier on Embankment at increased frequencies during Monday to Friday peak hours. In addition to this, there is a new half hourly midday service between Canary Wharf and Blackfriars and a forty minute weekend service between Masthouse Terrace and Savoy. For the leisure customer there has been the introduction of a new circular cruise from Westminster Millennium Pier, two new services calling at Bankside Pier for the Tate Modern and The Globe Theatre and improved links to Waterloo Millennium Pier for the BA London Eye and the surroundings attractions. There are also new links from Embankment Pier and improved through service to the Thames Barrier from Westminster via Greenwich. In addition to these services, there are a number of lunch and dinner cruises including a new lunch cruise from Waterloo.

You should purchase your ticket from the ticket office prior to boarding the boat at the appropriate pier where you are starting your journey. However, on some services, you buy your ticket on the boat.

Passengers presenting a valid Travelcard will receive a 33% discount on the advertised fare on most services when purchasing a scheduled riverboat service and discounts of up to 50% are available for holders of London Boroughs Freedom Passes. No other bus and tube tickets valid for travel on the boat services.

Places of interest to visit by boat:



London's two busiest and most central airports are Heathrow and Gatwick. Cheaper tickets may require you to leave from Stansted, Luton, and may be City Airport. Before buying a ticket, compare fares offered by National Airlines, such as Alitalia and British Airways, with the ones from low-cost airlines.

Gatwick Airport (ph. 01293535353)

It's about 30 miles south of Central London. It is served by the Gatwick Express from Victoria Station which takes about 30-35 minutes and runs 24 hours a day with services every fifteen minutes. The Jetlink 777 bus (ph. 0208 668 7261) from Victoria Coach Station is cheaper but takes longer. A taxi will cost very much, avoid it!

Heathrow Airport (ph. 0208 7594321)

It's about 15 miles west of Central London. The new Heathrow Express service from Paddington is by far the quickest and most efficient way to get to Heathrow. The journey takes only 15 minutes and there are four trains an hour. A cheaper option is to take the Piccadilly line but allow around 50­60 minutes for your journey. The Airbus Heathrow Shuttle (ph. 0181 4006655) runs four buses an hour from several locations in Central London and takes around an hour.

Luton Airport (ph. 01582 405 100)

It's about 30 miles north of Central London. There is a rail service running to Luton rail station from Kings' Cross. For a cheaper but longer journey the Green Line coach service (ph. 0208 668 7261) runs from Victoria station.

Stansted Airport (ph. 01279680500)

It's about 35 miles north-east of Central London). The quickest way to reach Stansted in on the Stansted Express (ph. 0345 484950) from Liverpool Street, but you can also get to Stansted Airport by taking a coach starting from Victoria Coach Station, which represent a cheaper solution, although it takes longer.

London City Airport (ph. 020 7646 0000)

You can get to London City Airport by reaching via tube East London and from there taking a bus to the Airport.