The city of London has one of the largest and most immense public transport systems in the world. It comes in many different forms such as taxis, busses, boats and trains. To be honest there is no reason to own a car if you live in or near Central London. By far, the most used mode of transport for any Londoner would be the underground trains, locally known as “The Tube”. The tube is a massive subterranean network of trains that consists of 12 lines covering the whole of London.
In’s and Out’s
I was amazed at the ease of traveling around on the tube. As a South African, where public transport is almost non-existent, this was an intimidating but very exciting experience.
The first thing you need to do is buy yourself an Oyster Card. You will need this card to use any form of public transport. Until recently London busses allowed you to pay in cash for your journey. But this has now been abolished and only Oyster Cards can now be used. Normal tickets can be purchased for other forms of transport, however will cost you about twice as much. Trust me, just get an Oyster Card. They can be purchased at most tube stations or news agent. Another tip I can give is to take one of the free tube maps available near the entrance of the station. This will make planning your journey much easier.
You now hold a Oyster Card in your hand. You make your way to the card barrier, dodging the intertwining rivers of people. You stand in row to the barrier gates. The person in front of you just went through and the gate stays open. “Do I wait for it to close or can I go through?” Don’t worry, just press your Oyster Card against the card reader and move on through.
Finally, you’ve made it in. You get on the escalator and start to descend deep into the earth. The first thing you notice is rising heat, especially on hot summer days. I comment on it and a Londoner says “Wait until it’s busy, you almost can’t breathe.” Remember to keep right on the escalator as the left side is for rushed people flying down the steps.
You arrive at the tube and the doors open. Remember to the gap between the platform and the train. But don’t worry, you will be reminded a million times before you even step towards the train.
You’re on and the journey starts! Now you have to navigate the tube lines. At first this will seem very intimidating but you get the hang of it surprisingly quick and when you do it actually starts becoming fun.