How Public Transport Works in London
There are two main ways to get around London – Buses and Tube Trains. The Tube is the name given to the system of trains that go underground. However you should note that these trains do also run above ground between many stations, especially those in the outer zones of London. London’s underground system is the oldest underground train system in the world and is by far the largest system with hundreds of tube stations on the network. If you are taking a walk in central London you will usually only be a few minutes walk from one station to the next.
Paying for Public Transport in London
On the surface public transport in London might seem very expensive and compared to many cities around the world the underground train system, is quite expensive, however the buses in London are quite a bit cheaper then in other parts of the UK. There are usually two prices for a journey in London. The cash price paid for a paper ticket and the price using London’s electronic Oyster Card. the price for a paper ticket is always higher and is done so to encourage people to pay using the Oyster Card.
In order to travel within London you need to have a valid ticket. The system is divided into a series of circles known as zones. The inner most circle is zone 1, followed by zone 2, zone 3, etc You need to have a ticket valid for all the zones you travel through in order to get from A to B even if you do not intend to get off at any of the station inbetween.
So for example if you were travelling on the Northern line from Edgware Station (in zone 5) to High Barnet Station (also in zone 5) using the tube train system you’d need a ticket valid for zones 2 to zone 5 as you need to go to Camden Town Station to change trains.
The Oyster Card
London has adopted the electronic oyster card as it’s preffered method of paying for bus and train travel within the city.
The card contains a electronic chip and a radio antenna. To use the card you need to either link it to your credit card or top it up with money.
For visitors to London it is often best to buy a card from a station for around £3 and then add money to it. Then as you use the card the system will take off money for each journey – however it will stop taking off any money when it reaches the maximum fare you would have otherwise paid by buying a travel card that would have covered all the journeys you would have made that day.
To use the card you simply touch once on the yellow circle by the barriers. You must touch in and touch out at the start and end of every journey. If you fail to touch out at the end of a journey you will be charged the maximum fare for the journey.
There are plans to also expand the system so that you can pay for low value items such as sweets & newspapers using the card and thus help avoid having a pocket full of change.