London 2012: A tourist's guide to the transport system

Oyster Card and Tube map Do yourself a favour, save some money and get an Oyster Card

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The busiest summer ever looms for London's transport system.

After the problems last week, many doubt the system will cope.

Transport for London (TfL) remains confident, although it admits there will be breakdowns.

The trick will be in getting the system back up and running quickly.

So here's some friendly advice for tourists and Olympic visitors to try and make the transport experience as easy as possible.

  1. Get an Oyster card - if you're travelling a lot it's far cheaper. Or get a one day, or weekly, Travelcard which gives you unlimited travel for particular zones if you are making lots of journeys.
  2. Avoid cash fares at all costs. You'll find a breakdown of fares here.
  3. Do let people off trains before you get on.
  4. Do stand on the right on escalators - if you don't, Londoners love saying "excuse me" to people in the way on the left.
  5. Get a map. The Tube map is not representative of actual distances. Sometimes it's much easier and much more pleasant to walk. For example Embankment is 200m from Charing Cross.
  6. By all means try and talk to people in the carriage or on the bus - if they ignore you they're not being rude, that's the London norm.
  7. If the weather is hot and you get the Tube, be prepared for sauna conditions on some lines like the Victoria and the Northern. The top deck of some buses can also get very toasty.
  8. Do get your Oyster Card ready before you approach the gates - do not do it once you are blocking the gate.
  9. Be aware you don't have to press the door "open" button on the Tube: if you do, it's a clear sign you're new to town. However on overland trains you do have to press the "open" button on the doors - and no, I don't know why there's this difference.
  10. Even if there are no gates on, for example, the Docklands Light Railway, always touch out with your Oyster Card - sometimes you need to look carefully to find the yellow circular readers. If you don't it will charge you a full fare - about £7.
  11. Don't be afraid to ask directions. Helping lost tourists is a badge of honour for some Londoners (I'm not vouching for the directions though). Or ask the Tube / bus staff - normally they are pretty nice.
  12. If you are lucky enough to have tickets for the Games then you will need to leave plenty of time to get there. The Get Ahead of the Games website shows you what it will be like.
  13. If you use a night bus, be prepared for anything...

If anyone thinks of any more please post below.

Tom Edwards Article written by Tom Edwards Tom Edwards Transport correspondent, London

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  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Please make sure your Oyster card is topped up.

    I do not like people running past me to go the gates, touch their Oyster for it to say "Seek Assistance" for me to be standing right behind them, with a queue building up as people are all trying to get out of the limited number of gates!

    Keep moving as smoothly as possible, stopping causes queues and frustrations!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    When consulting your map, do proceed atleast 2 metres from the tube gates, in order to avoid being runover by commuters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Get an Oyster? generally good advice, but when my Olympic tickets arrived last week I was pleasently surprised to see one day travelcards for the days that I had tickets for.

    Do overseas visitors also get these?... still an oyster for the days with no Olympic tickets

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    When on the tube...
    - don't lean on the pole that everyone else needs to hold on to, you'll get knuckles in your back,
    - don't be a turtle-back with your giant backpack wacking and squashing the people around you: take it off and stand it in front of you,
    - don't be part of a school trip during rush hour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Regarding the sauna conditions on buses and Tubes - DO take a bottle of water (unfortunately you're not allowed anything stronger).

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Do research your route. Some connections are faster (and more pleasant) if you walk instead of changing trains. Examples:

    *Embankment - Charing Cross (District & Circle to Overland trains)
    *Bank - Cannon Street (Central line to District & Circle lines - Bank is shown as having a connection to these lines but it is actually an long tuinnel to Monument station, involving stairs and escalators.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Get out of my way please - I am late for work.

    Have fun!

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    And PLEASE try and travel after 9:30 in the morning. Its cheaper for you and will make your journey and that of London's daily commuters a lot more pleasant. This particuarly applies to large groups of people!

    Also please DON'T get to the bottom of an escalator, stairs or tunnel entrance and just stop! There will be a large amount of people behind you suddenly with no where to go!

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    When you're on a train and it is crowded, make sure you are ready to get off as soon as the train stops - if you have been lucky enough to get a seat, you need to stand up and move towards the doors before the train stops, otherwise people waiting on the platform will have started to get on before you have got off as they won't have realised you are not staying on the train

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    If you child misbehave on the tube ie stamps on a guide dogs tail he will be shouted at by the general public, who may also report you to the station staff who can check the CCTV....

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    You know those signs by the stairs of some stations saying to only use in an emergency? Only use them in an emergency. There's many.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    When a train arrives and the doors open, stand to the side so arriving passengers have space to exit the train. Don't stand in front of the doors blocking their exit onto the platform. Wait till they are all off, and only then board the train.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1.

    Move up the carriage on a busy train and tube. It can get pretty cosy in rush hour. No groping.



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