So, you’ve got your place at LSE, you’ve finally travelled to the big city and now it’s time to figure out how you’re going to get around this big old city!
First up, we have the London Underground. Ran by Transport for London (TFL) and better known as the Tube, the underground has 11 lines covering 402km, serves 270 stations and handles up to 1.35 billion passenger journeys each year - so it’s highly likely that you’ll be living close to a tube station during your time in London! The main 11 lines that operate across the whole of London are the Bakerloo, Central, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City, Jubilee, Metropolitan, Northern, Piccadilly, Victoria and Waterloo & City. All of these lines have their own designated colour and many of them will also have that colour on the inside of the trains handles and railings, which is always helpful if you’re worried you’re on the line train.
Paying for the tube
Sign up to a TFL 18+ photocard and get up to 30% off your travel - https://tfl.gov.uk/fares/free-and-discounted-travel/18-plus-student-oyster-photocard
Divided into zones (1-6) that stretch across Central and Greater London, the cost of your transport will depend on which zone you live in and how many journeys you make each day, so the closer you live to zone 1, the cheaper your travel will be. Keep reading on and we’ll tell you how TFL journeys are paid for!
The underground trains run around every 2-4 minutes, so there’s not always the need to rush as there’ll normally be another train along pretty soon after the one you’ve missed. It’s also worth noting that a lot of underground stations stop running between 12am and 5am on most days of the week. The exception of this is the night tube, where on a Saturday and Sunday a number of lines operate on the night tube, which is always super handy for those late nights in the library and nights out with friends - details on these lines can be found here.
You’ll find hundreds of escalators on the TFL network, with the longest one being 60m long at Angel station! However, there’s one thing you must remember... It’s an unwritten rule that you must stand on the right and walk on the left of the station escalators. Make sure you blend in like a proper Londoner by following this rule!
The nearest stations to LSE campus are Holborn (Central and Piccadilly lines) Temple (Circle and District lines) Covent Garden (Piccadilly) and Charing Cross (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
The London Overground is part of the Transport for London network, but works slightly differently to the underground lines. This line that’s marked as an orange line on the map most commonly runs from Zones 2 outwards, facilitating travel further out of central and into Greater London. Although the prices are the same as on the underground, the overground runs a bit more like a normal train, for example on the tube you don’t need to press the buttons to open the door at your stop, whereas on the Overground you do!
Not quite as frequent as the underground, the trains on the overground network run usually each 8-14 minutes, so you may want to plan your journey ahead a little if you’re going to be using this line.
Paying for Underground and Overground trains
All Transport for London (TFL) journeys are paid for with either an Oystercard, Travelcard or contactless bankcard. At the entry to the platform of underground or overground stations, you’ll have to touch your card onto the yellow reader and when you exit the station at your destination, you must repeat this to complete the journey.
Sometimes you’ll need whatever type of card you’re using to open the barriers before you get down to the platforms, other times there’s no physical barrier to the trains so you still need to find the yellow reader to pay for your journey with your card.
You can find out more about the fare breakdowns on TFL’s website here.
Buses & Trams
London has various bus routes, many of which have 24 hour services which is perfect for when you need to get home late at night, along with some great sightseeing opportunities along the way! Buses are card only, so no need for cash, and you can choose to tap an Oystercard, a Travelcard or a contactless bank card to pay your fare when you get on the bus - it’s pretty helpful that the card readers on the TFL network are the same, so you should get used to them pretty quickly!
London’s tram network runs through Croydon in south London and goes as far west as Wimbledon, connecting parts of London to the Tube, London Overground, bus and National Rail network.
You can find out more details on the TFL Tram network here.
Paying for buses and trams
A single London bus journey costs £1.55 no matter how far you go (unlike the Tube zone fare system). You can even take multiple buses within one hour at no extra charge thanks to the hopper fare system. Plus, no matter how many buses or trams you take, it will never cost you more than £4.65 a day, but just make sure you use the same payment option across every journey (the same bankcard or device - don’t mix the two!).
If you can put up with the temperamental British weather, cycling can be a seriously cheap and effective option to travel around London. LSE’s campus has an array of bike storage facilities that you can take a look at here. As a general rule around the city, you’ll need to stay off the pavements and adhere to all road signs and traffic lights on your journey. Wearing a helmet is recommended, but not compulsory, but you can get yourself up to scratch
you can find a full set of safety rules on the Highway Code website.
Also check out this handy article for all the tips and tricks for cycling safely in London!
Student Oyster Card (what it is, the benefits and how to get it)
If you’re over 18, a student and living in a London borough (so that will be nearly all of you!) you will be entitled to discounted travel with an Oyster photocard. TFL now ask for a £20 non-refunable fee, but this gets you 30% off the price of adult-rate Travelcards and Bus & Tram passes, something that’s really useful to get hold of if you regularly get around by public transport. The only downside is that you need to be fully enrolled at LSE before you apply, as TfL will need to confirm your registration with the University.
In the meantime, you can find out more about the Student Oyster Photocard on the TFL website and the LSE Oystercard support web page.
Fancy getting out of London for the weekend or heading back home for the holidays? Well make sure you get a railcard for your journeys on National Rail services! For everyone aged 16-25 and mature students, the £30 railcard is typically paid back within 3 journeys and a must for those planning on travelling around the UK during their time at LSE. For details on how to purchase your railcard, visit the website here.
You can also purchase a 26-30 railcard with the exact same perks and format as above - visit the website here!
Helpful apps, websites and guides
Even coming from someone that’s lived in London for a while now, as a newbie Citymapper will be your saviour for your time living here! It’ll calculate any type of journey for you and how to get from one side of London to another by tube, overground, bus, tram, cycling and walking. It’s quick and simple to use and more importantly, FREE to download onto your phone. Look up ‘Citymapper’ on your phone's app provider and use it as your own personal guide.
TFL Go App
Use TFLs official live map to see your route or search any place or address across London. You can get live bus and train times for every station and find out the quieter times to travel across the network. The app also provides live updates on all bus, Tube, London Overground, DLR, TfL Rail and tram lines. A bit like Citymapper, you can also check walking and cycling routes for all or part of your journey and use step-free mode for planning accessible journeys - this includes information on toilet availability, platform access and live lift status. Look up ‘TFL Go’ on your phone's app provider to download!
When wanting to organise your journey on the tube and overground, make sure you’ve also got a Tube Map app on your phone. It can help you to plan the route of your journey efficiently and can show you where exact tube stations are located on lines and in zones for you. Check out your phones app store for a number of great options.
General maps on your phone
General map apps such as Google or Apple are also great to have at hand when you’re trying to get around London, especially for planning walks and getting from A to B by foot.
General tips and hints for getting around London’s travel network
- Aways plan your journey ahead - if you can, avoid travelling in rush hour as now Covid restrictions have been lifted, the tube is particularly crowded (and more expensive) between 07.30 and 09.30am and then again between 17.00 and 19.30 on weekdays.
- Although Covid restrictions have been lifted in most places, TFL still requires passengers to wear a face covering over your nose and mouth, unless you are exempt for age, health or accessibility reasons.
- It’s really important to remember to not to forget to touch the pad as you leave those stations that don’t have barriers, otherwise you can be charged a maximum fare of £50 - nobody wants that on a student budget!
For the most up to date Covid and general safety travel guidance, please visit the TFL website.