Whether you’re visiting London for business or pleasure, the chances are you’ll have to take the Tube at some point to get from A to B. Central London’s so vast and the roads are incredibly congested so the Tube is often the most practical commuting solution.
For first-time Tube riders a number of emotions may creep over them before embarking on their first underground pursuit; excitement at riding on London’s iconic transport infrastructure, anticipation at the thought of being underground and general confusion at trying to navigate the system. The fact is; there’s a sort of unwritten code of conduct on the Tube that savvy commuters always adhere to which ensures safety and efficiency for travellers using the underground. The best thing you can do as a newbie is read this simple guide so you don’t have “lost tourist” written across your forehead.
Underground Fares and Ticket Debunking
The London Underground can be a confusing concept to grasp in terms of fares and tickets. Firstly, you need to establish which zones you will be travelling in; Tube tickets are priced according to how many zones you will cross and how many single journeys you will make in a day.
For example, a daily travel card for zones 1-3 (off-peak) costs £7.70 and enables you to make unlimited journeys within those zones, whereas a single journey within those zones costs £4.30. So if you intend to make more than one trip within those zones you may be best purchasing a travel card.
Alternatively, you can purchase an Oyster Card which basically entitles you to cheaper fares on any mode of public transport in zoned London areas. For example, the regular zone 1-3 single fare would £4.30 as mentioned before, but with an Oyster Card would only be £2.60. If you made various journeys within zones 1-3 your Oyster Card would stop charging you once it hits the daily cap (which is the equivalent price of the daily travel card). It also allows you to top up Pay as You Go style in Tube and train stations as well as at a large number of off licences.
You can also load railcards onto your Oyster Card for further savings; you get an extra 34% off single and daily price caps so it’s definitely worth utilising! You can load a railcard onto your Oyster by visiting any train or Tube, London Overground and certain national rail ticket offices.
Navigating the System
Before even thinking about getting on the Tube it’s highly recommended that you have a look at the Tube map and plan your journey as best you can before setting out. Certain lines only run through certain stations, so you may be required to change lines at particular stations to reach your intended destination.
If you have a smartphone then it’s definitely worth downloading the Tube Map App, not only is it convenient to have on your person at all times but it also calculates your journeys for you! If you put your starting point and intended destination it will pick the most efficient route, informing you of any changes required and providing you with an estimated journey time. Of course if you do get lost there are plenty of Underground staff on hand to help you find your way.
If you’re planning to travel via Tube at the weekend then allow extra time for your journey. The Underground often suffers from partial line closures at the weekend for planned engineering work, so you may have to take an alternate route or endure delays. This is due to the Underground track being rather ancient and needing a refurbishment.
If you’re intrigued by the transport system that is, in its own right a major tourist attraction, then why not watch the BBC documentary series The Tube? It delves into the daily life of Underground staff filling various roles and provides an interesting insight into how it all runs. It also gives Tube novices a fairly good idea of what to expect when travelling on the Underground!
About the author: Stephanie Staszko writes for MF Airport Parking who provide cheap London Heathrow Airport Parking for those visiting the Capital by air.
image via _dChris