Let’s talk about the Tube! Coming from Ohio, the group had various levels of familiarity with public transportation and trains. Some of us have experienced subways in the US, others experienced trains in India and further abroad, but London has a fantastic transportation system that we have been happy to learn and embrace. It has made it very easy for us to get around, and in turn quickly learn about the city that has been our home for the last week. We are glad to present a few pointers from an outsiders perspective on how to use the London Underground.
First, let’s clarify some language: The public transit system in London is referred to primarily as the London Underground, or the Tube. There are also the National Rail and London Overground services that connect at various change stations with the Underground. Just don’t call it a subway- that’s a clear giveaway you’re not local.
Keep Left. While you may be glad you don’t have to drive on the other side of the road here (if you’re from the US), you might not know that you should walk on the other side. When in doubt keep left. Go up the left set of stairs, or walk on the left while people stand on the right on escalators.
The World’s Your Oyster. The London Underground uses contactless payment in addition to prepaid paper tickets. Pick up an Oyster Card for five pounds, and you’ll be zooming through the tube in no time. You can top off (add more money to your card) at any station, and even get a refund if you’re leaving and there’s still money on your card.
Mind the Gap! No post on the London Underground would be complete without mentioning this world-renowned safety advice. Mind the gap simply means that you should be careful and pay attention to the space between the train and the platform. Now you don’t have to ask a Londoner and become very embarrassed.
We will miss the London Underground as we head North this next week, but we’ll be sure to report back with more thoughts from our travels!