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As one of the thousands of Americans moving to London each year, the biggest part of adjusting to living in London is learning how to use the public transport. Having a private car in London is expensive and unnecessary. As soon as you have settled into your new London apartment you need to start learning how to make your way around the city using the tubes, trains and buses.

Transport Zones

The transport network is divided into fare zones that spread out from the centre of the city to the outer edges of the suburbs. The central Zone is called Zone 1 and the furthest Zone is called Zone 6. The more zones that you travel in, the more you will have to pay to use the transport network. If you live in Zone 2, work in Zone 1 and only make the occasional trip out to Heathrow or other areas in Zone 6, then you should only get a Zone1 and 2 Travelcard, and purchase a Zone 6 Travelcard when you need it. If you purchase an all inclusive Zone Travelcard, you’ll be paying quite a lot more than you need to.

Lines and Routes

The transport system is coded by name and by color. The easiest way to remember which line you need to travel on is to remember the color, but note that locals refer to the line by its name. For example; the Red Line is called the Central Line. It just makes it easier to understand in a hurry if you can easily identify who line and station you need to get on and off.

Reading the Map

The London Underground Map, in particular, is not to scale, so when you read it, you might find that you save more time with a five minute walk than by taking the tube to the closest station. The tube maps that you see are drawn schematically and do not represent distances in scale. In London it is sometimes quicker to walk!

Peak and Off Peak Times

Peak travel time for all forms of public transport is between 4:30 am and 9.30 am Monday – Friday. If you purchase a 7-day Travelcard loaded onto your Oyster Card you can travel at any time of the day and not pay any more.

Living in London for the first time can be confusing, but armed with your Underground Map and you’re A-Z street map, you’ll be right at home in no time at all.


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