London’s public transport

Bakerloo at Waterloo

As a non-Londoner who doesn’t drive, I am generally in awe of London’s public transport.

While any Londoner who’s had to make alternative arrangements during a tube strike will probably disagree, compared to the public transport available in most other British cities London is well ahead.

London Underground, or The Tube, is especially good. You get something like 20 trains every hour through central London, so you rarely have to wait more than 3 minutes for one. And it comes with at least 8 carriages, so you’re likely to be able to get on.

Its buses are cheap – £1.20 with an Oyster card for a single adult ticket (at the time of writing) – and pretty frequent too. And talking of Oyster, you have one card which lets you pay for basically any train, bus, tube or tram in greater London.

It’s not perfect; strikes, for one, happen more frequently than they probably should, and overcrowding is a problem. And the chaos which occurs when something breaks down during the peak periods.

Compare this to Bradford, where we have more expensive buses and no trams or tube to fall back on. The trains are thankfully cheaper but nowhere near as frequent, and not as pervasive – railway stations tend to be fewer and far between, so you’re left with the buses. Though we have some integrated ticketing, it’s only in the form of day rover tickets (which are only sold at travel interchanges) or weekly/monthly travel cards. There’s no pay-as-you-go scheme and it’s not a smartcard like Oyster.

London’s transport is on my mind as Christine and I are spending this weekend in London, and will hopefully be visiting London Zoo. It’s the first time I’ve been to London properly in almost three years, so naturally I’m a little excited.