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Public Transport in London : Visitors guide Including Fares & Transport Passes

by Ethan
Baker Street train station

Public Transport in London : London, the bustling capital of the United Kingdom, is known for its iconic landmarks, rich history, and efficient public transport system. Navigating the city can be overwhelming for visitors, but with the right information about fares and transport passes, exploring London becomes a breeze. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various modes of public transport available, their costs, and the best transport passes to make your journey in London seamless.

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The London Underground: The Lifeline of the City

Baker Street train station

Photo by Felix Hanspach

Public Transport in London : The London Underground, also known as the Tube, is the oldest underground railway network in the world. With its extensive coverage and frequent services, it is the most popular mode of transport for both locals and tourists. The Tube consists of 11 lines, each color-coded for easy identification.

Buy a Visitor Oyster Card

Some key points to know about the London Underground:

– Wearing a facemask on public transport in London is encouraged but not mandatory
– Heavy penalties are imposed for buying single journey tickets, which can cost more than double the price of using an Oyster Card
– A single journey on the London Underground may involve 1 or 2 train changes, starting when you enter the station and ending when you exit at your destination
– Transport for London (TfL), chaired by the Mayor of London, manages buses, the Underground, DLR, and suburban trains
– Oyster and Travelcard passes allow seamless travel across all modes of transport
– Children under 11 travel for free on the Underground and DLR, while discounted fares are available for those under 18 or studying in London
– Visitors do not have senior fares
– London residents over 60 can obtain a pass for free bus and Underground travel
– English National Concessionary bus passes cannot be used on the Underground but are valid on red buses
– The Underground operates from around 5am to midnight, with extended service on Friday and Saturday nights
– Night buses are available in Central London when the Underground is closed
– Waiting times for Underground trains are typically under 5 minutes throughout the day.

London Buses : A Scenic and Affordable Option

a red double decker bus parked in front of a building

Photo by Bruno da Costa

– TfL manages regulation, fares, and ticketing for buses, Underground, DLR, and London suburban trains
– Oyster and Travelcard are popular transport passes for seamless travel across all modes
– Cash cannot be used to purchase bus tickets on board
– Children under 11 can travel for free on red London buses and the Underground
– Child fares for those under 16 are available but can be complex
– Discounts available for those under 18 or studying in London with an Oyster ID card
– Visitors do not receive senior fares, but residents over 60 can get a free bus pass
– London buses operate 24/7, with extra night buses when the Underground is closed
– Travelcards are valid in any zone on buses, allowing travel outside of designated zones

Read more : things to do in London to uncover a plethora of exciting activities and attractions to indulge in during your visit.

Buy a Visitor Oyster Card

Docklands Light Railway (DLR)

white and red train beside building at daytime

Photo by Tomas Anton Escobar

Public Transport in London : The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is a driverless train network in east and south-east London. It connects with the London Underground at major stations such as Bank, Tower Gateway, and Canary Wharf. The DLR serves various areas including Docklands, Beckton, Stratford, London City Airport, Greenwich, and Lewisham. It also connects with the IFS Cloud Cable Car at Royal Victoria station. The DLR operates from around 5.30am to 12.30am on weekdays and Saturdays, and from around 7am to 11.30pm on Sundays. Specific timings can be checked on the Transport for London website for trip planning.

Buy a Visitor Oyster Card

How much does the DLR cost?

The fares for DLR and the Tube are identical. You have the option to use a Visitor Oyster card, Oyster card, Travelcard, or contactless payment cards to pay for your DLR journey. If you possess a contactless payment card issued outside the UK, it is advisable to consult your bank regarding potential transaction fees or bank charges.


London riverboat services on the Thames

aerial photography of London skyline during daytime

Photo by Benjamin Davies

Public Transport in London : The river Thames water bus service, Uber Boat by Thames Clippers, provides a fast and frequent mode of transport along the Thames in London. It offers efficient links to major locations in the city and allows commuters and visitors to enjoy the view of famous landmarks from the water. Unlike river tours, this service does not provide guided commentary. There are four different routes available, covering destinations from Putney to Woolwich. To plan your travel, you can refer to the Uber Boat by Thames Clippers river bus route map.

Where does the London river bus go?

Thames Clippers, known as Uber Boat, operates river bus routes with various popular stops along the Thames. These stops include

  • Millbank Pier for Tate Britain
  • Westminster Pier for the Houses of Parliament,Big Ben, and Westminster Abbey.
  • London Eye Pier is another stop, offering access to SEA LIFE London Aquarium, The London Dungeon, and the London Eye.
  • Bankside Pier is a stop for Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
  • London Bridge City Pier provides access to HMS Belfast, Borough Market, and The Shard.
  • Tower Pier is where you can visit the Tower of London and Tower Bridge. Greenwich Pier is a stop for Greenwich, while North Greenwich Pier is for The O2 and the IFS Cloud Cable Car.
  • The Woolwich Ferry offers a free service between Woolwich and North Woolwich.

London Uber Boat Ticket

London Tourist Maps and Public Transport Maps

two people pointing at London's number one sightseeing map

Photo by Janis Oppliger

Transport for London (TfL) is responsible for coordinating all public transport in London. They release official maps that can be obtained in hard copy at information centers. The most popular map is the London Underground map, which can be found in dispensers at underground stations for free. TfL’s website provides links to maps for all forms of public transport, including buses, trains, trams, and river services. There are also special maps showing which underground stations have lifts or connections without stairs. However, with the rise of electronic resources, the availability of paper format maps has decreased. Now, there are more single route or district maps, rather than the universal maps that were common in the past.

Maps : Fare Zones | Underground Map | Tube & Rail Map | Night Tube Map | London Bus Map | Tourist Bus MapStandford Map Shops


London Taxis, Black Cabs and Minicabs

vehicles passing by a street

Photo by Darya Tryfanava

Public Transport in London : Only black cabs can be hailed on the street, indicated by a yellow taxi sign when available. Black cabs are metered with a minimum charge of £3.20. Minicabs are a cheaper alternative but their prices should be asked beforehand as they do not have meters. It is important to book a licensed minicab with a Transport for London license disc, as unbooked minicabs are illegal, unsafe, and uninsured.

To access a comprehensive list of fares, please refer to the taxi fares information provided by Transport for London.

Exploring London on Two Wheels: Santander Cycles

black Santander bicycles parked on bicycle stand

Photo by Yomex Owo

Public Transport in London : Santander Cycles bikes in London can be rented using a credit or debit card at docking-station terminals. Cash is not accepted. The bikes can be hired for £1.65 for the first 30 minutes, with an additional £1.65 for every extra 30 minutes. After finishing the ride, the bike can be returned to any docking station. Users can check bike availability at nearby docking stations on TfL’s website. Bikes can be hired multiple times during the access period, with a 5-minute wait required between returning and hiring a new bike. For longer rentals, it may be cheaper to rent from other bicycle hire companies in London. Santander e-bikes are also available for hire at a higher price, and they can be docked at standard docking stations.

Read more : things to do in London to uncover a plethora of exciting activities and attractions to indulge in during your visit.

The London Pass: Unlock 80+ Attractions and Enjoy a Free Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour

The London Pass allows you to visit over 80 popular attractions in London, including Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral. You can download the pass instantly and choose between 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, or 10 consecutive days. The pass comes with a digital guide that provides information on attractions, their opening hours, directions, and entry instructions for your convenience.

Buy London Pass with Klook

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can I use my contactless payment card on all modes of public transport in London?

Yes, contactless payment cards can be used on the Tube, buses, trams, and some national rail services within the designated fare zones.

Where can I purchase an Oyster card or Visitor Oyster Card?

Oyster cards and Visitor Oyster Cards can be purchased online, at Tube stations, Oyster Ticket Stops, and various retailers throughout London.

Are there any discounts available for children or seniors?

Yes, children under the age of 11 travel for free on the Tube, buses, and most National Rail services when accompanied by an adult. Seniors aged 60 and above are eligible for discounted fares.

Can I use my transport pass to travel to and from London’s airports?

Transport passes, such as Visitor Oyster Cards and Travelcards, are valid for travel to and from London’s airports, including Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, and London City Airport.

What should I do if I forget to tap my Oyster card or contactless payment card?

If you forget to tap your card when entering or exiting a station, you may be charged a maximum fare. In such cases, contact the Transport for London customer service for assistance.

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