The London Underground – everyone has used it, from Rihanna and Jay-Z opting for the tight squeeze on the way to the O2, to London’s business people and students. For all its annoyances, the city’s famous Tube is undoubtedly a vital part of London life and – as 2013 saw it celebrate its 150th anniversary – the capital has been keen to mark its long history, which goes far beyond making travel quicker and more efficient.
The London Underground is one of the easiest ways to navigate London, and usually one of the fastest. While it can be subject to hold ups, it does get around the city’s notorious traffic issues. Travel cards make the Tube considerably cheaper for people who are using the system daily, particularly those who study at universities in London and can purchase Oyster Cards at a discounted rate if they are also eligible for a 16-25 Railcard or similar scheme.
There are a number of common best practices to bear in mind whilst travelling on the London Underground that will make your journey more efficient and comfortable. It is an unspoken rule that passengers both in carriages and on escalators are to stand on the right to allow people to get past when they are nearing their stop or in a rush to get on the next train. It is also worth bearing in mind that peak times are best avoided when possible, but of course if you are on an economics course in London centre and trying to make a 9am start, this isn’t always possible, so plan ahead and get there early.
Alongside this simple advice, there is also a vast range of helpful technology and planners that can make your trip as smooth as possible. There are an infinite number of London Underground apps for tablets and smartphones available on the market but some of the best can really improve your journey.
Tube Map Live is an app that gives you live time information to avoid getting caught out by irritating delays; it’s used mainly by those who don’t need a London Underground map as such but do require information on their route.
The Citymapper app is the ideal London transport gadget. Free to download on the iPhone and iPad, it provides your device with a full offline map and, particularly handy for London students, it can tell you the exact cost of what your journey will be. In addition to these apps, there are a few other helpful online planners that can seriously help with your journey routes.
Transport for London and the Tubeplanner both offer great journey planners that tell you what stops are involved on your trip and how long you should take to get where you’re going. What many people don’t know is that while the mobile signal on the underground is obviously sacrificed, the system does have its own WiFi at 120 stations thanks to a partnership with Virgin Media, and many phone plan providers also offer their customers free WiFi on the underground.
The odd and the interesting
While this practical London Underground information is useful to daily travellers, it will come as no surprise to learn that the world’s oldest underground train network is associated with a host of oddities and interesting events.
The Tube Carriage Supper Club has to be one of the best, which involves The Basement Gallery holding their own supper club in a decommissioned 1967 Victoria Line carriage. Reservations are booked up far in advance, as dinners at this quirky location take place only a handful of times a year.
From food to music, the 121212 Orchestra challenge saw one man start a musical experiment in which he set out to form an orchestra out of musicians he met as strangers whilst he was travelling on the Tube. Similarly, to mark the underground’s 150th anniversary singer songwriter Ben Langham compiled ‘A-Z of the London Underground’, a song that lists all the tube stations, which can be watched here.
These unusual events just go to prove the extent to which the iconic London Underground is a part of London life; there are few other landmarks that are as much of a city essential as they are a tourist attraction.
Other ways to get around as a student
While the underground is undoubtedly one of the quickest methods of getting around London there are plenty of other methods for getting around London cheaply and quickly as a student. The iconic London bus is just one of the many ways that students can save money and get around. Fares are just £1.45 for those using an Oyster card and those carrying a ‘bus only’ 18+ Student Travelcard, which costs £54.20 a month, receive unlimited travel across all zones.
For those looking to combine exercise and travel, the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme is another great option. Affectionately known as ‘Boris Bikes’ after London Mayor Boris Johnson introduced them, they cost £90 a year for a dedicated key or £2 a day, with the first half an hour being free.
Image Credits: jared (flickr.com), _dChris (flickr.com), European Cyclists’ Federation (flickr.com) respectively
This content was written by Rachel Smith. Please feel free to visit my Google+ Profile to read more stories.