London is renowned for its public transport system, and you’ll find that far fewer people own cars in London than you’ll be used to back home; once you get to know the busy streets of London you’ll realize why it’s far easier to travel by public transport! Use the following section to help introduce you to public transport in London – it’s a way of life that will be very much a part of your time here as well as a method of getting from place to place!
Most students’ Oyster Cards are included in the cost of their programs. Firstly – let’s talk about the precious gem you shall be carrying around with you everywhere you go – your Oyster card! This little blue card will be your key to the city (the clue’s in the name!).Your Oyster travel card is valid from unlimited journeys on the London Underground between zones 1-2, and on the whole London bus network up until the end date of your program.
To use your Oyster card, touch it on the yellow discs you see at barriers at tube stations and as you board buses. On the underground you will need to touch in when you enter the station and touch out to leave, on the buses you just touch in once.
We urge you to keep your Oyster safe and try your hardest not to lose it, as it can be irritating and costly should you need to wait to get a replacement. If you lose your Oyster Card, please see the Student Life Office for advice on obtaining a replacement.
LONDON UNDERGROUND (THE TUBE)
The London Underground is the rail network that runs underground reaching all corners of the city. All lines have their own names and distinct color used on the Underground map (see your Welcome Pack or the map section of this book). When planning your journey, locate which line(s) your stop is on and then follow the signs for that line at interchanges.
It can be a bit tricky at first working out the fastest or most efficient route to your destination so use the route planner – this will tell you the routes to your destination and the length of time they will take, along with any possible maintenance work that may affect your journey.
Your nearest tube stations are Gloucester Road (Circle, District, Piccadilly), South Kensington (Circle, District, Piccadilly), High Street Kensington (Circle and District) and Earls Court (District and Piccadilly).
The London Underground does not run throughout the night – lines close around midnight, so after this time you will have to use other modes of transport, like the bus system.
Oyster cards are also valid on London buses. Travelling by bus is a great way to explore London above ground and help you learn your surroundings. Be aware that busy traffic throughout the capital may mean that your journey isn’t as speedy as by tube. Unlike the underground, most London buses run all night and can be identified by the letter ‘N’ in front of the number. Some routes may change at night so if you’re planning to be out late, check your return route. Buses are a great way to actually see the city as you travel and help you learn your surroundings, however, do be aware that the busy traffic throughout the capital may mean that your journey isn’t as speedy as by tube.
The best buses into central London around ‘Metrogate and Hyde Park Gate are the 9, 10 & 52. The best buses to central London around Manson Place are the 14, 345, 74 and 97.
The iconic London Black Cabs run on a meter and can be flagged down if the orange ‘Taxi’ light is on. Black Cab drivers (or ‘cabbies’ as Londoners call them) undertake a rigorous training course on London’s geography known as ‘The Knowledge’, which means they know every street, landmark and attraction in London! This means that they are a safe bet should you not be wholly certain of your destination, however, you should be aware that Black Cabs do not run as frequently late at night.
Alternatively you may get a minicab. These are ordered over the phone, or going into a minicab office (you can see these with yellow lights outside the door). It is illegal for licensed minicabs to pick up passing trade, and therefore they cannot be hailed down like Black Cabs. All licensed minicabs have their documentation displayed in the window and have the London Transport sticker in their windows. Minicabs can be cheaper than Black Cabs, but they may not be familiar with the route so research your destination before jumping in. It is also a good idea to get a quote on your journey and verify this quote with the driver before setting off.
FIE recommends Green Tomato Cars, London’s Environmentally friendly car service: 0208 568 0022 (number is also on your FIE ID card).
If you are not in Kensington and need a taxi number then use the service Cabwise and text ‘HOME’ to 60835 and they’ll text you back with local cab numbers for both minicabs and Black Cabs.
There are many mainline rail stations over London providing overland rail services both throughout London and national services. These are known as ‘National Rail’ services. If you are travelling around the UK via train check which station you depart from when you purchase your ticket. For information on overland services, both in London and the UK, check http://www.nationrail.co.uk or http://www.thetrainline.com or phone National Rail Enquiries on 0845 7 48 49 50. It is worth noting that if you are planning travel by rail you can often get cheaper tickets by booking in advance.
On tube maps, National Rail stations are shown by this red icon:
These are a very affordable way to travel around the U.K. National Express coaches and Megabus coaches operate from Victoria Coach station and offer multiple intercity routes, which maybe longer than train journeys but are often a lot cheaper.
- Police, Fire and Ambulance: 999
- Directory Enquiries: 118 118
- FIE Emergency: 020 7808 0131
- Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, Accident and Emergency: 020 8746 8000
- International operator: 153
- National Rail Enquiries: 08457 48 49 50
- London Transport: 020 7222 1234
- American Express: 020 7484 9600
- Gatwick: 08700 002 468
- Heathrow: 08700 000 303
- Luton: 01582 405 100
- Stansted: 08700 000 303
- Victoria Coach Station: 020 7730 3499
- Eurolines European Express Coaches: 020 7730 8235
- Youth Hostel Association: 020 7236 4965
- Campus Travel: 020 7938 2188