July 5, 2010

How to Survive London Transport


At times (frequent, frequent times) nothing can drive me crazier than London transport. While it will never be fault free, hopefully a little assistance from yours truly will be able to keep you from wanting to become Jubilee line track-kill.

The three heavy-hitters on the transport scene are the Overground, Underground and  system. The UK equivalent to the Subway or Metro, the Underground seems to be the majority favourite and has a stop virtually adjacent to every tourist attraction you can shake a stick at. As a city native and avoider of having my face smooshed into peoples armpits, I try to avoid the Underground at all costs.

While the accesibility is astounding, busses are my preference. Why?

– The stops. They are much more conveniently located for the cool places London offers that aren’t swamped by tourists.
– The atmosphere. As the name suggests, the Underground typically offers stunning views of tunnels and sometimes metal frameworks in uglier back-areas from the city.
– The people. Please note I in no way think the types of people on either service vary in any way. What is beneficial, however, is the ability to walk up a flight of stairs or stare out of a window convincingly after your mandatory crazy-person giggle fest.
– The cost. The journeys are no shorter, and you can often get away with spending half what you would on another service, as you always pay a flat rate.
– The schedule. For some insane reason, the Underground has no schedule that helps the nightcrawlers get home and taxis will take advantage of your wallet with no remorse. Busses run tons of night routes and keep you in safely lit areas.

As far as longer journeys go, you can’t go very wrong with the Overground. While it’s slightly pricier, you end up often travelling with business people and those much more respectful of your private space and surroundings. The biggest pro? Air conditioning and heat. Everyone who has suffered train delays in a British summer – can I get a Hallelujah?

Basically, the best idea is to remain as patient as possible and abuse the Journey Planner at tfl.gov.uk. By using post codes you will beat delays, closures, and get everywhere faster than you could plan alone. Saviour.

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