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Various Modes of Public Transport in London

London is one of the biggest cities in the world with distances between one end of the city to the other being overwhelming, necessitating an efficient and complex public transport system to serve the residents and visitors. Although the first hackney carriages started as early as 1654, the organised development of a transport system began in early nineteenth century with the first horse-drawn omnibuses being introduced in 1829,

The Underground Tube System:

Underground Tube Station

The North London Railway appeared in 1850 and in 1853 the Metropolitan Railway was introduced leading to the Underground network. It is the most popular and convenient public transport system in London involving 270 stations and 11 lines spanning across the city, except the boroughs of Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Kingston, Lewisham, and Sutton. This 402km long metro system is simply known as the Underground or even the Tube in common language. Its logo is one of the world’s first corporate symbols and is visible everywhere in the city. The first section from Paddington to Farringdon started in 1863, much before any other tube in the world. It is also much more dignified than the American systems, as is evident from the coaches having upholstered seats.

The Tube generally runs from 5:30am to just after midnight, and on Sundays it runs from 7am to 11:30pm. The network is planning to run its trains 24 hours a day on weekends (from Friday morning to Sunday night) on the Piccadilly, Victoria, Central, and Jubilee lines and on the Charing Cross branch of the Northern line, as of 2015. The Tube network has 13 named lines plus the Dockland Light railway (DLR) that serve East London. There is a train line in South London and all together they serve about 300 stations. All the lines are colour-coded such as Piccadilly is peacock purple and Bakerloo is brown.  For staying you can choose hotels near shaftesbury avenue london for a memorable experience.

It is easy to navigate through the tube system by looking for signs pointing to the colour and name of the line that you want to take. More signs will separate you and lead you to the direction where you have to go. All that you need to know is the name and colour of the line you want along with the direction in which you wish to travel. The signs will lead you to the platform where you will get your train. For changing trains, you have to follow the signs as before till you reach the Way Out which is the Exit. Finding your way through warrens of cylindrical tunnels, you will scale alpine escalators lined with ads and reach the right platform. However, it is important to always stand on the right so that others can pass you from the left side. It is also important to know that carriages on the DLR and commuter trains may not open automatically and you need to push the illuminated button for them to open. The platforms have electronic displays that tell you how long before the next train will arrive.

It is easy to move around in London if you get proper information before setting off and it is possible to stay at an affordable rate if you can avail of London hotel packages.

The most convenient and easiest way to get tickets for travel in London by any mode is to get an Oyster Card that covers travel by the London Underground, trams, certain river boat services, London buses, light rail, and some National Railway services operating within London. The fare system on the Tube is rather complex as fares are different for different zones and your fare is calculated by how many zones you go through. You pay less if you go through less number of zones. One-way tickets are called “singles” and round-trips are “return.” Kids under 11 travel for free if accompanied by an adult.

Visiting adults can pay for their tickets in 3 ways. You can pay in cash per ride but this proves to be very expensive. So, you need to buy multiple rides in advance. You can buy a Travelcard which is an unlimited pass for 1 or 7 days, on the Tube, rail and bus. You can also pay via Oyster pay as you go (PAYG), which is the best option which is mostly used by locals. You load it with cash and it debits as you use it. It is the most economical option.

Buses:

London’s buses are quite frequent enabling you to get a bus every 5 minutes or so on weekdays. They are plentiful as there are 100 routes in central London and about 700 routes over the wider city. The buses are also fast with many of them running on dedicated lines. They are cheaper than the Tube and offer fantastic views especially from the second level of a candy-apple red double-decker buses. The Travel cards and Oysters offer the best fares while the 1-day Oyster PAYG is also convenient. Routes that start with N are Night Buses which are most convenient if you miss the last tube home.

Taxis

The taxis in London are the best in the world but they are utterly expensive. The drivers have to go through a rigorous training period before they can drive a taxi. They know every nook and corner of the city like the back of their hand. The vehicles are adorable being bulbous, spacious and easily manoeuvrable. Some taxis accept credit cards plus a 12.5% surcharge, but mostly, they only accept cash. They are often called “black cabs”.

Minicabs:

These are hire cars that are different from the black cabs and can be found easily by using apps.

Ferry:

London’s river ferry services are one of the most pleasurable to go around.

Bicycle:

London offers a bike hiring facility throughout the city known as Barclays Cycle Hire or Boris Bikes. They can be taken from one dock, used for going to another place and then they can be deposited at a dock in that area.

On Foot:

Besides costing you nothing, this mode of travelling also gives you enough exercise and enables you to see the various places from close quarters.

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