If there’s one thing that keeps London going and its heart beating it has to be the London Tube. In 1863 London got the world’s first underground railway which stretched from Paddington to Farringdon Street. It’s also often referred to as the London Underground but in reality only 45% of this transportation system is located beneath the ground. Over the past 150 years the Tube has kept expanding and carrying more passengers each year. In 2013/14 the London Tube carried an astonishing 1.265 billion people. The whole system has 250 miles of track and only ten percent of its total length is located south of the river Thames.
As the city and its ambitions grew the London Tube had certainly become a critical part of London and the main way to transport the city’s work force. Arguably it is the most important infrastructure system in London. The government puts great effort and funding into the Tube which just proves its importance. At the moment the Tube system has 270 stations which efficiently connects Londoners. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the city would stop in its tracks and crumble if the Tube stopped working.
Compared to other forms of public transport the Tube is fairly expensive. However many Londoners couldn’t imagine everyday life without it, no matter how much it costs. Fees vary depending on where a commuter is going. London is divided into zones: zone 1 is the heart of the city, the so called zone 2 is is the center, zones 3 through 5 are the outer parts of the city, while zones 6 through 9 include Greater London and a number of its surrounding suburbs. It’s no surprise that the first two zones are the most expensive. A single ticket here can set you back £4.70, which is kind of on the pricey side.
Keep in mind that if you’re traveling from zone 2, for example, to zone 7 and if your commute lasts an hour from zones 3 to 7, you will still pay a higher fee for starting your journey from zone 2. Even if it’s just a five minute or a one station difference. Whether this is a fair way of pricing tickets is debatable, however it’s important to note that keeping the London Tube system functioning takes up a lot of resources and money so fees are calculated in a certain way to make it profitable and above all keep the city running as smooth as possible.
Having an Oyster card in London is a great benefit. Riding the Tube with an Oyster card can save an individual up to 50%. Also, these cards can be used on many other transportation methods such as buses, trains etc. It’s easy, affordable, practical, and no one should be without one. While it requires paying a deposit, it can be reclaimed when a person decides to trade it back in.
Between the morning hours of 6am and roughly 8:30am is when the Tube is the most crowded. So if possible try and avoid using it at these hours. The same goes for the period between 5pm and 6:30pm. The jubillee and central lines are notoriously busy and getting a seat here is practically impossible. It’s always advised that people check twice on which train they are getting on, because a mistake here might cost you hours of your precious time. Check out some of the apps that are available for your smartphone as they offer plenty of information and should hopefully reduce the chance of something like that happening, especially if you are new to London.