So, you’re going to officially becoming a Londoner (providing you’re not one already) within a mere matter of weeks. Thus, you will become frenamies with the less than perfect but definitely as good as it will get transport system of London. With all that said, I must admit that I do have a soft spot for all things TFL, none more so than the wondrous things that are Boris Bikes (but more on that later) or the thought for the day written alongside the ticket stations at Mile End Tube stop.
Let’s begin with tubes…
I found this image below:
It brought memories flooding back from this time two years where I found myself like a rabbit in headlights, staring at the multicolored lines across London from zones one to nine. I got on countless northbound instead of south and westbound instead of east for the first fortnight or so, whist I was getting to grips with the tube. The closest I had to a tube back home was the bi-weekly bus from my village into town so the tube system made for an interesting experience, until I got to grips with it. Perhaps more so for us country folk than the experienced urbanites. Delays and failures are inevitable so just be prepared for them.
Top tips –
1. Walk to the end of the platforms for a better chance of having a seat if you wish to not stand.
2. Get your 16-25 rail card hooked up with your student oyster for even greater discounts.
3. Carry a water bottle with you.
4. Make sure if you change onto a DLR/Overground line you swipe out of the Underground and onto them or you’ll get a beasty charge.
5. Check the TFL website for travel updates and line delays and always have a back up route in mind, especially if you’re catching a national rail train from London to elsewhere.
No doubt the 25 to Ilford will become a life savior at 4am on numerous occasions. It certainly was whilst I lived on campus. The smell of chips and chicken that seems to be embedded within its seats provides a very strange sense of comfort when you take rest on it from central London to East Gate at ridiculous o’clock in the morning, I found. Did you see the BBC2 advert for “toughest place to be” where a bus driver is talking to camera, recalling how one man said to him, “We’re driving to hell” for him to reply, “No, were driving to Ilford.” It always made me giggle.
The red buses of London are a fabulous way of seeing the city. You can check out which standard public bus routes go past all the iconic landmarks of the city, giving yourself a personal tour without paying top dollar on the hop-on-hop-off kind of buses. See http://www.londonforfree.net/outdoors/bustour/bustour.shtml for suggested routes.
I’d definitely suggest you take the bus instead of the tube if you aren’t in a rush as they’re much more airy and give you a chance to admire the city from up high.
Riding a Boris…
£2 for 24hour access and £10 for a week is brilliant value if you don’t have bicycle with you at QM. If I’m running late hopping on a Boris, or Barclays they should technically be called, couldn’t be easier or quicker. You print off an access code and each code lasts 30 minutes so as long as you have docked up your bike within that half hour slot then get another out at the one you docked it in, you shall not encounter any charges. There are no limits as to how many bikes you can use within the 24 hours or the week so I advise that you make the most of it and cycle anywhere you can. I love cycling along South and Victoria embankment as well as along The Mall leading up to the Palace to pay Lizzy a visit.
From uni, you can reach Columbia Road Flower Market, London Fields Lido, Brick Lane and Spittlefields within one 30minute slot.
If you and a mate find yourselves strapped for cash, you can easily do a seaty on a bike (this isn’t advised on instructions but never the less it is very, very funny to do).
I do hope that all things transport become clear sooner rather than later.
Header image source: Image soure