Wednesday, September 12, 2007

London Underground Tips & Tricks

The tube strike made me sit up and appreciate the London Underground that I use to commute everyday to work and back. Now that I've learned my lesson, it's less painful even if I don't get a place to sit and read my book, or if a person next to me eats smelly chips or if I have to hang on to my husband for want of a place to hold on to because of the rush!

But you gotta be smart if you want to make the tube work for you. If you don't know much about it, you will end up walking miles (OK, I am exaggerating!) inside the tube station crossing between different lines and ending up at the butt of a long escalator queue. Nobody wants these on a work-day morning. So here are some tips and tricks that I have picked up in the last 2 months that have really worked for me. These are mostly time-saving tips.

1. Way-outs!
These are the exits to a different line or to a street and they are clearly marked on all platforms. But if you board a carriage that is far way from the 'way-out' you might have to plan an extra 5 minutes into you travel time everyday. The solution? The way-out tube map! It's worth the £1.95 if you haven't already worked out which carriage to get into so that when you reach your destination you are bang opposite the exit and no one can beat you to it or the escalator wait at the end of the way-out tunnel!
This could be your way to Mind the Gap between the carriage and the exit! :)

2. For the walker in you!
When I first came to London I was advised by someone that I could easily walk from Waterloo to Charing Cross. That someone entered directly into my not-to-take-seriously list of people. But after burning precious pounds on the tube travel, one day I found out that it was indeed a pleasant walk from Waterloo to Charing Cross. The official tube map does not give one a good idea of the geographical distances between the stations, if you were to walk. Here's the solution. An accurate geographical tube map. It will help you decide when to walk and when not to. Very handy, especially if you have only a couple of minutes before your play/meeting starts!

3. For the tourist
This book - Going Underground - can tell you which London attraction is close to which tube. If you happen to pass through a particular station, you might as well visit all the attractions close to it!

4. Get the cheapest fare
Public transport in London is the most expensive in the world. Or so I heard. It makes sense to make your travel choices wisely. If you work and/or live in London, you might already have an Oyster card. But you still need to decide whether you should go for a pay-as-you-go (pre-paid) or a travelcard (season ticket). You can find out at the Oyster Card Calculator.

5. For the bookworm
This is not related to the tube, but if you are a bookworm you will pardon me for that. If you miss your book collection back home and the affordable paperback prices back in India, you should visit one of these places - Oxfam, Cancer-Research UK (do you know any other?) - over the weekend. Satiate your need and also do a good thing! I bought 6 books for £3.5 last weekend and I am still beaming about it.
On second thoughts, you could read these books in the tube. So there!
A warning though - you have to be lucky like me to get the books that you want to read!


Swetha T L said...


Wanted to let you know something which I should've told you 2 years back. I have been reading your blog ever since mid 2005 :) even before I started blogging. I have changed 4 locations in 2 years Mumbai-Bangalore-Muscat-Bangalore, but I have never stopped reading your blog.Your URL remains in my bookmark list where ever I go and no matter what :).

I am your out-and-out fan and have always been appreciating your thoughts and writing skills but all that was only on mind, thought of letting you know today :).I still don't know why I am doing it today, But am glad I've done it.

Your work is awesome!! Keep it going girl!

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Glad to hear that Swetha. Comments and feedback most welcome.

Have a good day!

Vishy said...

Few differences I observed with the NYC subway system
- The handy sub-way maps that you could pick up anytime in London are nowhere to be found here
- Updown and downtown platforms could be on distinct locations(even few streets away as against opposing platforms in London)
- Trains here are airconditioned(thankfully)
- Various tranit systems have their access control systems leaving the newcomer totally confounded...

In all, if u r new here, u sd settle for more than a few glares from busy,brusque passers-by till u settle down :)


Girl With Big Eyes said...

London spoiled you, eh?

I am sure before you know, you will get used to the NYC system as well. If we are good at something, its adapting to things AFAP!

Anonymous said...

Hello bigeyes

If you are a foodie, visit the Borough farmer market on Saturday near borough tube station. Open till 2 Pm

Girl With Big Eyes said...

Thanks Anon. Will keep it in mind.