How to find your way around London by the London Underground
Getting around a huge city like London can be a nightmare for visitors who have never experienced the city transport system before. While there are taxis, and one can drive through the chaos of London streets, the Tube system was designed to make travel from one area of London to another relatively easy, even for those new to the city. Hand in hand with an A-Z guide to London, the visitor really can make their planned trips easily, by obtaining a map of the tube service which clearly shows all stations and lines covered by the network.
Deciding on a route
Do buy an A-Z guide. These are essential when trying to find your way around London. Looking at your A-Z guide for the place you wish to visit gives you clues as to which tube stations serve that particular area. Then, it’s just a matter of seeing where your starting point is, and following the lines shown to get to the given destination. The color codes on the map make this simple, as each line has its own color, and also shows at which junctures a passenger should change tubes. If two or more colors intersect on the plan, this means that both lines are available at that station, making planning very simple to understand.
Getting the tube for the first time
All tickets are purchased at a ticket office, and are placed into a machine in many of the stations which open the gates and allow you into the area leading to the platforms. Don’t forget that the machine merely passes the ticket through for you to collect at the other end. If there are not machines, keep your ticket anyway, as during your time traveling on the tube, you could be asked to produce this at any time. Follow the signs for the platform, using the same color codes. The signs are usually bold, and if the corridors lead in different directions, you will be able to determine which way to proceed by knowing the color and destination of the tube you are seeking. Once on the platform, a short wait and your train will arrive. If traveling out of peak hours, do ask the times of the tubes as evening and weekend tube times differ from those during peak periods.
Oyster card benefits
If you are traveling a long way during a particular day, one benefit offered by London Transport is the Oyster Card, which can be topped up at any time during its validity. These still need checking in and out of stations, and if this is forgotten, you can be charged the full peak fare for your journey, so be aware of the limitations as well as the benefits, and do ask about how to use it, so that you are clear. The benefit of these is that you can travel an unlimited distance on agreed lines during that period at under peak prices, thus making economies. This is ideal for tourists and visitors, and works very much like the cards on the French Metro system. Card checking machines are easy to locate and tickets can be used for tube and bus travel, making them a great alternative for flexibility of travel within the city. The other advantage of buying these tickets or daily/weekly passes is that you no longer need to queue for your tickets, cutting down your travel inconvenience.
Do ask in advance for a plan showing the stations which are adapted for disabled travelers. These are available in pdf. Format in larger print, so that disabled travelers can plan their route to exclude those areas which may present problematical travel.
Guides to help visitors
To get a guide in advance, these are available at most ticket offices, though it is wise to take the precaution of having one in advance. Guides for using the Tube and walking are available, as well as guides for exploring London by Tube, and Tube and Bus services combined.
Traveling by tube
The underground service is very fast and an efficient way to travel around London and the outlying areas of the City. Be aware that rush hours (8-9.30 in the morning and 4.30-6.30 in the afternoon and early evening) are best avoided, as at these times, it is unlikely to get seating space. When traveling with small children, again try to do this while people are working, rather than commuting back and forth from work, as children need to be assured by having their parents with them at all times, and in rush hours may become separated from them.
Using the escalators
When traveling on the escalators, stay to one side. The reason for this is that it allows passengers who are in more of a hurry than you to pass. If traveling with children, ensure that they also take their place on the right hand side, to avoid annoying people trying to pass. Make children aware about how to step off the escalator as often they are a little timid about the idea of stepping from a moving platform to a static one. If escalators are out of order, there is no need for concern, as steps are available.
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