Public Transport (not taxis), London
Here is a tip on a little know ruling when using an Oyster card. Its called the minutes rule and Transport for London do little to advertise it. Basically if you are making a journey across London and changing method of transport - say tram to train, or tube to bus etc beware. You must present your Oyster card at a reader within so many minutes of changing the method of transport or you will be charged for two journeys. Its also known as the Out of Stations Interchange Allowance and there is an excellent website at www.oyster-rail.org.uk/osi-list which helps enormously. This site tells you how long you have to change method of transit and only be charged for one journey
Here is an example - your journey is Victoria to New Southgate. You take the tube from Victoria to Kings Cross and touch out of the Underground at Kings Cross / St Pancras. You go up to Kings Cross mainline from where you need to take a suburban train (NOT the tube) to New Southgate. You now have 20 minutes to make that transfer. So if you go for a coffee and then miss the next train and wait for the next (its generally 30 minute frequency) you will be charged on your Oyster for two journeys. To only pay for one you need to touch in at Kings Cross mainline as soon as possible and take the New Southgate train in order to just pay for one journey.
When you arrive at London everybody is exited and wants to see the city with all the beautiful buildings.
But first of all you need a ticket for the bus and underground. When you are standing in the queue for the ticket office you just see billboards for "oyster".
(oyster is a prepaid card for using the public transport in London)
The person in the ticket office knows you are a tourist, so he offers you an oyster card.
In general the oyster card is free, but you paid a depot of £5 just for the card.
!!!IMPORTANT!!! You just can give the card back if it's empty. (Mine has 30p on it, so I couldn't give it back)
So as we bought an oyster card we load it with £10. Then we went to the bus. There we saw that one busride costs £1.50. So you can drive 5 times with the bus or underground. Then you're card is empty.
My advice: Just buy a "One day ticket" for £5 (You can't take the underground then, it's just for bus)
Website: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/Related to:
Occasionally a London bus will curtail its journey if it is running too late tp make up its destination time or a driver is not available to relieve a driver and al the passengers have to get off and get the next bus on the route. If this happens ask the driver for an 'exchange ticket' - this is a simple paper ticket you give to the driver on the next bus. It means you do not have to use your Oyster Card for the next journey and pay twice for the same journey.
Not every tube lines run in weekends. So before making a plan check which one is working and which not. Otherwise you could be surprised badly. (First time I was in London this ruined my plans and we couldn't go to Greenwich because Jubelee was closed).
There are buses but they’ll cost you more time.
Tube trains enter platforms at speed and break heavily - there is a slight back draft as they do this and you must stand behind the yellow line painted along platform edges in tube stations. If you do this you will be quite safe. Numbers of passengers on platforms can also be high , especially in the peak , and although there are procedures in place at street level to stop crush on the platforms you must not go near the platform edge at any time.
Tube trains operate on a live third rail system and the middle rail you can see in the track is 'live'. Fall on to that an it would be instant death.
You will see bike taxis all over the west end - general feeling amongst locals is that you should not take a ride in one of these. The drivers are either students or workers from overseas who are not registered in anyway to work , although you cannot blame them for wanting to earn money.
The vehicles themselves are generally unlicenced and never pass safety tests nor do the drivers generally wear identification badges.
I do accept it could be quite fun to see London from such a vehicle but please way up the risks before you take a ride.
I had a very bad experience recently after purchasing a return Gatwick Airport Express ticket. In order to save time, I bought mine on board of a flight. On my return to Victoria station, I had the unpleasant surprise of learning about a signaling problem and the service being temporarily suspended (without any estimate of time). Luckily I had 3 hours ahead of me before my flight time, so I could sort it out another way to go back to Gatwick airport.
Now, just trying to get a refund for the way back...wish me luck!
Website: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/Related to:
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.
Website: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/Related to:
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.
Website: http://www.tfl.gov.uk/Add to your Trip Planner
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.