Public Transport (not taxis), London
Catching a bus in London is easy - good information at the bus stops and recorded announcements once you are on the bus to say where it is going and what the next stop will be. That is until you get on one of the new three door buses in the evening as we did (18/3/14) - through the day these new buses have a conductor who presumably shouts out where the bus is but on a number 11 in central London it was a driver only. No pre-recorded announcements and no conductor on major bus route used by tourists.
Beware if you have to use a new bus on the evenings and are not too sure of the route.
Now this is something one encounters often when travelling on the tube - MIND THE GAP. It is both written next to the GAP and one can hear it in the loud-speaker over and over again. And of course there is a reason for this. In 2011 111 people were injured because of the gap.
On the 7th of March 2013 there were no trains on the Bakerloo line going to Elephant & Castle as a person was under the train!! I heard this when I entered the tube and when I got off 40 minutes later they were still announcing it - poor person - and how did she/he get under the train? Maybe jumped or was pushed, which happens. An Icelandic acquaintance of mine once got hit by the tube, and survived.
The gap is so big in some tube stations - it is really big in Hammersmith, where one either has to step down into the train (no gap) - or step over a wide gap. I often wonder how parents with small kids manage this. And what if one drops something down the gap? Well, in that case one has to call security for help, never go down to the railway track and get it yourself. In other tube stations there is almost no gap. And during the rush hour one has to be really alert - or when carrying a suit-case. Last time I carried a suit-case on the tube (2013) I wasn´t quick enough stepping over the gap, and escaped the door closing on me by an inch.
Out of two months in London in 2013 my ancle nerves were blocked for 2 weeks, making it really painful for me to walk - but of course being in London I went everywhere, being passed by elderly ladies in the street ;) When one is not 100% then the gap seems big - but in most cases it isn´t.
There is a gap that is created when the Tube's straight cars stop at a curved platform. There is no 'automatic' device to fill the gap so some sort of visual and audio warning was required to prevent passengers from injuring themselves by stepping into the space created.
In London, you will need to Hop-on, hop-off the bus while visiting Big Bin, Buckingham Palace, Tower Bridge, Madame Tussuad,....etc, so i would suggest to purchase the ticket for the "Big Bus Tour" because they run every 12 minute, there are so many of them, the trail map is up to date and very easy to follow up with each location. Other buses are one pound cheaper BUT the timing element is so precious in the city of London, specially for tourist coming from abroad.
The London Tubes were what I used for transport when visiting (other than the Big Red Bus Tour). I have just read of people being pick-pocketed and all that, but here is something obvious- look out for your belongings (pockets, bags, purses) at all times. I didn't travel at night on the tube, but I guess the smart thing to do is to sit in a carriage with other people.
There are works on various underground lines on week ends.
Circle line, District, H'smith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria line.
Most London underground lines have no service or partial service on week ends in August, September & October 2011!
You might have booked a hotel near a tube station and find out that there is no service on the chosen WE.
On the August WE when I was in London staying near Tower Hill station there was no service on Circle line AND District line.
People visiting the very popular Tower of London had to come by bus nr 15 (every 12 minutes on Sunday and crowded off course, see photo) or the more expensive boat services on the Thames.
Before booking a hotel or planning your visits to monuments look on the Transport for London website:
www.tfl.gov.uk Line Travel News - Planned Works Calendar.
TFL loves to do scheduled maintenance work on the tube on the weekends, it seems to me that every time I am in London, they close down the Circle Line for at least part of my trip. Sometimes it's not a big deal, you just take another line and maybe an extra 5 minutes. Other times, it's a real challenge getting where you are going, one of our journeys on this trip took at least twice as long as it should have between changing lines and walking between tube stations.
Check on the boards when you enter the station as to what lines have closures, they also list lines that have current delays. Once you get down to the platform, all you can do is listen for announcements or ask someone who looks like they live in London who probably knows what lines are closed for that day. If it's a scheduled closure, then there are replacement buses that stop at all of the closed station on that line. If it's unscheduled, then you are on your own to figure out where you are going although you should be able to find someone who works there or a "how to travel from this tube station" guide near the exit.
I advise anyone to stay away from the underground (tube) during rush hour. It is extremely busy and the trains are fully packed. You will most likely have to stand and you will have no room to move at all. Keep your belongings in the front of you.
Some advice from a born and bred Londoner!
1. Please read what everyone above has written - everything they have said is really valid and useful!
2. On the Tube escalator, stand on the RIGHT. This allows everyone who is in a rush (and London is a very busy city) to get past you.
3. When getting around London, please avoid the following when walking:
- Do not suddenly stop when getting on or off a lift (elevator) or an escalator. You are holding up the people behind you and they won't appreciate it!
- Walking slowly when in a stream of fast walking people - they will push past you and it makes you an easy target for pick-pockets.
- If you are in a group, do not walk all together in a large cluster across the entire pavement. This will annoy people and make them less likely to help you out. It also makes you easy targets for pickpockets!
4. Try not to travel at rush hour. From experience, rush hour is longer than what is told to tourists and visitors! 8-9.30am is very busy, as well as between 5-7pm on weekdays. ***NOTE*** Between 6-9.30am and 4.30-7pm PEAK FARES ARE CHARGED ON THE TUBE. These are considerably more expensive, and you could pay £10-15 a day by accident! Have a sleep in and take a bus!
There are ticket gates at many London mainline termini. They are very similar to the gates on the Underground and the you must have a valid ticket to enter or leave the station through the gates.
For wheelchair users there is a extra wide gate and the gating assistant will open this for you on production of your ticket.
The gating assistant will also help with any issues with excess fares or faulty tickets.
There is a yellow plate on the gates for Oyster Card users to scan in and out of mainline stations on suburban services.
The photo shows the ticket gates at Waterloo.
We are from Chicago and I have been on our "L" during rush hour, but taking the Tube during rush hour is something you should avoid unless you enjoy geting really up close and personal with your fellow travellers. Sue and I had to get onto the tube during rush hour to get to our hotel and get ready for our evening on the town to see a play in the East End. Even though I didn't take a picture (couldn't even get to my camera if I could) our scariest moment came as we were descending into the tube at the Holborn startion.
Imagine this escalator full of people and at the bottom people not moving. "Get away from the end of the escaltor" someone shouted as we were halfway down, "people need to get off". If this warning hadn't been heeded the pile up results could have resulted in injuries to hundreds. But, as I have been informed by my British VT friends, it is like this all the time and no serious injuries have resulted.
Just read in todays local newspaper that some poor guy - almost had to laugh picturing it like a cartoon or think how stupid!! - (but actually it probably is something that visitors from other countries just might not be aware of or think about!) - visiting from Poland electrocuted himself when weeing over a live railway line at Vauxhall station (which could be any station - and why there are signs not to cross railway tracks).
He died when an electric current connected with urine splashing on the 750-volt line.
So dont pee in public when in London and dont pee on the railway lines!
Try n avoid travelling late by the tube.There are some stations which are lonly n weirdo's hangout there.I once got off at camden town n there were these boys who were misbehaving with women.I guess jerks are all over but one has to safeguard themselves at all times especially if your a tourist.
For goodness sake, take heed of this one. On all escalators in the tube, people who want to stand, stand on the right as the left-hand side is for people who want to walk up/down. People will get really annoyed if you don't follow this (I know I do myself, unfortunately). You really are taking your life in your own hands if you don't!
I've seen someone who didn't get called all manor of things including being abused as a "b*tch" for not standing on the right.
Now london traffic is not always bad and sometimes being on one of these things can be a little dangerous as many cars hate them and don't tend to look where they're going... but more to the point if you're going to take one make sure you ask the price first and get a good discount on it... never accept the first offer!