Living in London: You vs TFL

Living in London: You vs TFL

Welcome to our living in London series. We are going to tell you the best ways to enjoy our beautiful city. These are tips and hacks written by us, that we use, and we know are great. This week we are telling you about some of the heartbeat of our city. It’s the Mayor’s baby. The blood in the heartbeat of London. The thing we love and hate in equal measure: Transport for London! Today we’re going to tell you the ins and outs and the best uses for all of the modes of transport this city has to offer.

Transport for London
Transport for London

What is it?

TFL is an acronym for Transport for London. The name will no doubt change at some point in the future as it has done in the past. TFL is the government body that is responsible for the transport in London. It’s responsible for all of the transport, manages most of the roads and provides Oyster cards. You can get an oyster card with just a £5 deposit. (Which you get back when you lose the Oyster card or return it to Transport for London)

 

Tubes

Price: Varies by time of day and zone. Disabled access: the majority do but many don’t

Londoners refer to the underground as the tube. That’s because of the shape of the tunnel. Metro just means city and “subway” is a place for sandwiches. Speaking of sandwiches there are loads of mice in the underground! They feed off of the food people drop so if you do snack on the tube then please don’t drop anything. There are about 50 lines and a million stations, so I’ll just tell you the most important ones – Leicester Square for entertainment, Oxford Circus for shopping, Green Park for relaxing Covent Garden for dinner and London Bridge for street food. A word of advice. Wait for passengers to get off before you get on and don’t EVER press the door open button.

 

Buses

Price: £1.65 per journey Hopper fare: yes Disabled access: fully accessible

Famously red, usually slow and reliably informative the bus really is the icon the tube wants to be. A bus is a bus is a bus but the rules here in London might be different to home. Press the bell in good time and get up as the bus is slowing down to stop or has just done so if there isn’t anyone next to you. Always go for an empty seat and if someone sits next to you when there are empty seats move because they are being weird. Some route are better than others but in the terms of sightseeing there are 3 consistent winners each and every time. 24 which goes from Hampstead Heath to Pimlico. 11 which runs from Liverpool Street (bus) station to Fulham Broadway (but not past Chelsea stadium sadly). 9 which goes from Aldwych and terminates at Hammersmith. Go to the top deck and sit at the front for the best views.

 

Trains

Price: depends on the time of day and zone Disabled access: some stations are fully accessible, but you can call them, and they’ll provide assistance

The trains in London mostly terminate just outside of the city centre but the Thameslink passes straight through. Be careful of sitting in first class on the trains that go out of London because if you use your oyster card, you’ll be liable for a penalty fare (personal experience). These are a great way of leaving the city but if you want to visit South London they’ll be your best way of getting around. Some of the stations themselves are worth the visit alone. Waterloo is a stunning example of

Victorian architecture and London Bridge a super slick modern example of a 21st century London. St Pancras is the greatest station for shopping, eating and entertainment.

 

Overground

Price: varies by travel zone and time of day Disabled access: only some stations, it’s best to contact them in advance

The overground is the trains but they are managed by TFL and are always on time. They’re like a cross between a tube and a train. A high frequency reliable way to travel is all Londoners have ever wanted so we’re grateful for the over ground. If you want to go somewhere for eating a drinking, Shoreditch High Street for Box Park. If dunner is more of your thing, then Dalston or maybe even Shoreditch High Street again but head to Brick Lane. There are dinosaurs at Crystal Palace, or the Horniman Museum at Forest Hill is impressive. You can also get to the famous Kew Gardens from the station of the same name or if you want to do some shopping, Kensington Olympia is the way to go.

Emirates Air Line

Price: £5

Don’t even think about it if the weather is even a little bit less than perfect. This is purely for sight seeing to be totally honest. It’s a thing you can do once and then that’s it really. You can find out why it’s earnt the nickname the “dangle way”.

 

Riverboats

Price: Varies by distance

Slow and pricey but great for tourism and a nice leisurely day. I have very little to say about this one. I had to get from London Bridge to the Tower of London and I really felt stung by how much it cost.

 

Boris Bikes

Price: £2 rental for unlimited 30 min use + £2 per additional 30mins Yearly membership: £90

The official title is the Santander Cycle Scheme, but a true Londoner will know it as the Boris bikes. It is named after our current prime minister who introduced the scheme when he was London Mayor. The bikes are indestructible and that means they are quite clunky and heavy. The good thing is that they are the greenest method of transport in the city. The bike is the best way to get around the centre especially if the weather is nice. Our favourite journeys are Hyde Park to Shoreditch, St Paul’s to Trafalgar Square, Greenwich to Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace to Regent’s Park.

 

Trams

Price: £1.65 per journey Hopper fare: yes Disabled access: fully accessible

If you’re lucky enough to live in Croydon, or at least close you likely have access to London’s second greenest mode of transport: the tram. The tram is quiet, comfortable and very reliable. It definitely doesn’t feel like it belongs in London but that is what’s special about it. Our favourite places to visit are Addington Hills (Coombe Lane Tram stop, line 3), Beckenham high street (Beckenham junction, line 2), Wimbledon (Wimbledon, Lines 1 & 2) and Centrale shopping centre (Centrale, all lines).

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