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Study Across The Pond US Blog

American Student's Guide To University Transportation In London

Posted by The ATP Advisors on Oct 14, 2015 5:30:00 PM

So you’ve got your acceptance letter to a London university and you may be thinking to yourself, “how am I going to get around this massive metropolis?”

Whether you’ll be studying in central London or a few ‘zones’ away, we have got some great tips for getting to and from your London university! (And no, it doesn’t have to break your bank.)

Ways to Get Around: The Tube and Buses

One of the very best ways to get around London (and the most well known way) is to use the London Underground, also known as the Tube. You may intimidated by the sheer size at first, but getting used to the transportation of London can prove to be far more intuitive than you originally thought.

When using the Tube you will find the Oyster Card will be your best friend. An Oyster Card will be your official travel card while in London on which you can add prepaid weekly amounts or choose pay as you go.

The Oyster Card also applies to trains and buses within the London metropolitan area. Students get 30% off their fare, as further explained on the Transport for London (TFL) web site.

Keep in mind that fares increase the more zones you cross over, as London has six zones it is broken into. Tubes and buses now all accept contactless payment cards, which are the easiest and cheapest way for ‘pay as you go’ fares.

A few important rules of thumb when using the Tube:

  • You’ll need your Oyster/ payment card/ ticket for entering and leaving the Tube. Have it ready to avoid pile-ups and the aggravated English ‘sigh’ behind you as you fumble in your pocket/purse
  • When using the escalators, always stand on the right to allow space on the left for people to walk up and down. 
  • When you arrive on the platform, be sure to move along to allow space for the passengers behind you. If you want the best chance of a seat, move right down towards the end of the platform
  • If you are seated on the train, do offer your seat to anyone who may need it more than you (e.g. the elderly, disabled, pregnant, or those travelling with small children).  Instant karma and it feels so good.

Buses are also much cheaper to use than the Tube, so you will save a lot by getting a bus only pass.  Buses will get you closer to where you want to go and allow you to see the outside world for the duration of your journey.

This is a great way for learning your way around the city and admiring the architecture and people-watching. Also, for those who enjoy getting out and about, walking is a great way to get around Central London, plus it’s completely free!

Tools to Help Get Around

Every Tube station has little foldable maps you can use to help navigate the Tube; there are also bus maps available at larger stations featuring the most popular routes. If you’re not a fan of carrying a map, the Tube Map app and Citymapper app are available for your phone.

For planning journeys from your university to other parts of London (and vice versa), the TFL web site works wonders. Simply plug in your starting point and end destination to see what buses, trains, and underground lines you can take to get from point A to point B. These apps and journey planners really are a life-saver. If you know the postcode of start and end point, it will map you from door to door – couldn’t be simpler!

When to Avoid Public Transportation

Rush hour is undoubtedly the busiest time to travel, referred to as peak travel time (usually around 8-10 in the morning and 4:30 to 7 in the evening). If you don’t like being squished in between a crowd of people, avoid traveling around these times. Also be prepared for London to shut major train lines down when it snows and plan your journey accordingly.

However, you may find that the Tube may become one of your favorite things about living in London. The people-watching, the ability to read a book while getting around town, as well as the thrill of feeling so very cosmopolitan are just a few reasons you’ll be happy to have a sprawling transportation system.

London calling? Deciding to study abroad can be scary, but our eBook below will help. Full of essential information about London lifestyles and everything that you want to know about the universities. It is the perfect guide for anyone who is thinking about studying in London.

Download Studying in London: The All-in-One Student's Guide

Photo Credit: Annie Mole

Topics: London