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Public transport in London: getting around has never been so easy

Londoners are constantly on the move. You’d be forgiven for thinking that might be a problem somewhere with almost 9 million inhabitants – not to mention all those tourists and commuters. In fact, you couldn’t be further from the truth. London’s public transport infrastructure is like a well-oiled machine – and the options available to you are as diverse as the city itself. For example, did you know that 1.37 billion journeys were made on the London Underground in 2018 – the equivalent of 18% of the world’s population taking one tube journey.

So, let’s find out how you’ll be getting from A to B when you relocate to the British capital.

London Underground

The world-famous London Underground – known to locals as ‘the tube’ – provides the main transport arteries for the city. So, why’s it so great?

  • Changes are clearly marked on the intuitive and iconic tube map.
  • Trains are so regular that you’ll rarely wait more than 5 minutes for one.
  • You’ll never be more than a 5-minute walk from a station in central London – AKA zone 1 in tube talk.
  • The relatively recent introduction of night tubes means a 24/7 tube service is available on Fridays and Saturdays on some lines.
  • Imagine being unable to connect to the internet for more than five minutes – heaven forbid! Thankfully you don’t have to worry about that on the tube, because WiFi is available across 97% of the network.

London Overground and DLR

The London Overground system is a suburban rail network that compliments the tube. Established in 2007, it now serves a large section of London, as well as neighbouring Hertfordshire to the north, with 112 stations on nine different routes. Overground trains are more spacious than their Underground contemporaries, but not quite as frequent.

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is an automated light metro system. Opened in 1987, it serves the redeveloped Docklands area of east London – great for anyone working in Canary Wharf. Try riding in the front seat for the best views.

Buses

London’s double-decker red buses are arguably the city’s most iconic image, and it’s easy to see why: they’re everywhere – over 8,000 scheduled buses operate on over 700 different routes. This bodes well for anyone that plans on using them a lot.

They’re a convenient and cheap way to travel around, wherever you are in London, with plenty of sightseeing opportunities en route. So much so that over 6 million people hop on and off them every day. Many of London’s bus routes operate 24/7, making them a vital transport link when the bulk of the tube network closes between midnight and 5 am. Don’t forget that you can’t pay with cash on buses – we’ll discuss contactless payment in a moment.

River buses

The River Thames isn’t just used by tourists on leisure cruises taking snaps of iconic landmarks. River buses provide convenient commuter services from 22 piers between Putney and Woolwich every 20 minutes, from early morning until late evening Monday to Friday.

Paying to travel

Paying for your journey couldn’t be any easier either. London’s major public transport systems are all integrated by the Oyster Card system. This blue plastic card is a one-stop-shop for all your travel payment requirements: pay as you go credit, travel cards, season tickets and monthly passes. To pay your fare, you simply tap your card going in and out of stations or on and off buses. You can also use your contactless payment card in the same way, or even your phone if you’re tech-savvy. Gone are the days of having to rummage in your pockets for loose change.

Get help from the experts

A relocation specialist can help you manage your entire relocation from start to finish and beyond. For example, as well as assisting you with your area search, home search and school search (if required), Simply London can provide guidance around orientation and integration issues, including public transport. With their help, you’ll be living like a local in no time.

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