London has a high quality integrated public transport system, with subway service, 24 hour buses, trains, taxis, bicycle rentals and water buses. There are many ways to get from one end of the city to the other, and many journeys can be paid for with your debit card.
Automobiles in London
Cars are increasingly scarce in the capital. Finding parking can be very expensive and difficult (London is known to be the most expensive parking city in the world) and many Londoners use public transport to get around as it is faster, easier to use and better for the environment. There is also a congestion charge for entering the city centre and the cost depends on the type of vehicle you are in.
If you have a valid driver’s license, you can rent a car. Visit drivy.co.uk for more about car hire in London. However, you must be at least 21 years old. There are car rental agencies all over London. Be careful and look at the speed limits on the streets of London, as they can vary greatly. Some areas have a new fixed limit of 20 miles per hour.
River Buses in London
There is also a river bus service in London called the Thames Clippers. They can be a convenient way to avoid congestion of travelers on the roads and the subway, and a wonderful way to travel and look at the scenery, although they are more expensive than normal buses.
You can take the clipper from some of the jetties along the River Thames, and its services are available from 6am to 11pm a week, and from 9:30am to midnight on the weekend. Their timetables can be found on the Thames Clipper website, and the official River Services map on the London Transport System website.
One-way fares vary depending on where you are travelling to and from. A one-way journey from central London costs Â£8 or Â£6.70 if you pay using the Oyster or a smart prepaid card.
You can also take a river tour from some tour companies such as City Cruises, Thames River Cruise, and, for those who want a more amphibious experience, the London Duck Tours.
London Underground Train
London’s subway service is sometimes known as ‘The Tube’ and is one of the fastest and cheapest forms of transport in the city. The London Underground has 270 stations and rarely takes more than 30 minutes to walk to find one; trains run every few minutes from 5:00 AM to midnight.
Travel prices vary as the city is zoned. Central London is Zone 1, and the zones increase in numbers as they move away. The second variable is the time you travel, and this is separated into rush hour (early in the morning and early in the afternoon in the week, when the train is most used) or out of rush hour.
If you are using an Oyster or smart prepaid card, a one-way trip between zones 1 and 2 costs Â£2.90 at peak times and Â£2.40 at off-peak times. With a one-way ticket, the same trip could cost Â£4.90. Between zones 1 and 6, a one-way trip costs Â£5.10 at peak times and Â£3.10 off-peak with an Oyster or Smart Prepaid Card, and with a one-way ticket, the trip could cost Â£6.
You can see the official London Underground Train map on the London Transport website.
There are many regional trains arriving and departing from the city centre throughout the day and evening, whether you live inside Greater London or in the outer areas. Many people use regional trains to work in the city but prefer to live outside for a quieter, suburban lifestyle. Regional trains are very expensive. Monthly travel tickets sometimes cost several hundred pounds.
Other forms of transport include the Light Rail to London Docklands and the Surface Rail, which combine with each other and with the subway, to provide a fast and integrated journey through London.
There is also a tram network in London which has 39 stops and reaches places such as Croydon, Wimbledon and Beckenham Junction. More than 27 million passengers used the service for the period between 2015 and 2016. London’s transport system is implementing a new project to improve tram service as a strong increase in the number of passengers using the service is expected.
Buses in London
London’s iconic red buses provide one of the largest and most comprehensive bus services in the world. More than 8000 scheduled buses operate on more than 700 different routes and run all day and night.
You cannot pay the fare for a bus in London with cash as the journey is fully integrated into the road network. A one-way adult ticket costs Â£1.50 and can be paid for using the Oyster card, a Travelcard or a prepaid smart card (as on the subway).
Taxis in London
London’s black taxis run all over the city, day and night, and are more common in the city centre and busier commercial areas; however, they can be difficult to find in residential areas. Taking a taxi is very similar to any big city in the world, make sure the taxi is available (with the white light on) and raise your arm so as to warn the taxi driver to stop. Normally you have to pay in cash, but some taxis accept cards. Taxis are usually expensive in London.
Taxi applications such as Uber, Hailo and Gett are very popular in London because they are a cheap, safe and convenient way to use taxis in the city and also cover residential areas. Payment is online, by prepaid transfer, so you can see the estimated cost of the trip before accepting the taxi driver.
Cycling is very popular in London, and its roads are becoming more and friendlier to cyclists. You can also ride a folding bicycle on the underground train or bus. If your bike cannot be folded, you can still use public transport but with some restrictions.
The city also has a self-service bicycle lending service called Santander Cycles and these bicycles are ideal for short journeys. You pay Â£2 to get to the bike and the first 30 minutes of every old one are free. Longer trips consider a Â£2 payment for each additional 30 minutes.