Whether you’re from a big city or a small town, getting from A to B in London can be daunting – especially for young students who’ve just arrived in the capital. From its iconic red buses to its excellent tube, London boasts some of the world’s best public transport, but using it for the first time can be stressful.
To help out, we’ve put together a comprehensive student guide to navigating London using public transport. Covering everything from the cheapest travel to the apps that can help, this is an essential read for any student getting set up in the capital.
The tube is definitely the most well-known way to travel around the capital, but it’s by no means the only option. Did you know, for example, that London busses carry around 6.5 million people a day (that’s more than the entire population of Scotland)? Take a look this list and see if there were any you didn’t know about:
The cheapest way to travel is with an annual Oyster Card, and you’ll be able to benefit from a 30% student discount! An Oyster Card gives you access to almost every part of the capital, and using your card will ensure you never overpay for a journey.
We’re sure in no time you’ll be directing tourists with the best of them, but even born-and-bred Londoners find these apps handy.
City Mapper is about to become your new best friend, however you plan to travel across the capital. Simply type in where you want to go, and the app will tell you the quickest way to get there.
It covers every mode of transport, and is integrated with live train and bus times, Uber and cycle docking stations. It also boasts a handy function that tells you which carriage to sit in for the quickest transfer between tubes, too.
The Oyster app allows you to top up your card on the go without having to queue (or more likely, try to find a TFL worker at your Zone 3 station) and see how much each journey has cost, so you’ll know right away if you’ve overpaid.
You probably already use this app. Google Maps comes into its own in London, with live bus, train and tube departure times. It’ll tell you how to get to your destination but will likely only give you a couple of options, unlike Citymapper. The beauty of it is the walking routes though, and it gives you pretty realistic estimates of how long a walk will take. It’s especially useful in Zone 1 as you’ll often find walking between stations is quicker than jumping on the tube.
You may already be a dab hand at the tube and know exactly which change you need to make to get from Blackhorse Road to Covent Garden, but this nifty app shows you 3D maps of stations so you can ignore the signs and take short cuts between platforms. Get ready to impress your buddies.
If you’re planning to cycle but don’t have your own set of wheels, then the Santander Cycle App is likely to come in very handy. You can see at a glance which docking stations have bikes and get release codes straight to your phone, allowing you to skip the docking station terminal. It will also tell you how much each journey costs, so you can work out how much you’re saving by not getting a cab! Speaking of which…
You’ve probably already got this app, and it will be just as handy in London. Realistically, you probably won’t be getting an Uber every day, but you can’t beat a cosy car ride home after a late night on the town.
London is a busy, fast-paced city. It may take you a while to navigate the transport systems, but before long you’ll be a pro and wonder what you were ever worried about.
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