No matter where you live (or visit) in England, transportation is a must. Here’s some things I’ve learned to keep you on track to your destination!
Travelling by train is still very popular although in the South-East they’re infamous for being late or cancelled. Many people commute into the London or other city-centers by train, so it can be crazy busy during those times. They’ll announce which station you’re approaching (usually both visually and audibly) so you’ll know when to get off. I’ve been lucky enough to be on the train while a local football team had just played Ebbsfleet, with their fans proudly singing “Ebbsfleet’s a shithole, I want to go home!” Followed by 30 minutes of more singing, clapping and chanting.
Tips: Off-Peak tickets (travelling only during certain times) are a great way to save some money while still getting around the country. Make sure you know when the last train leaves so you’re prepared!
Tickets: You can buy tickets online, from the person at the station (if they have one) or a machine at the station. You can also buy a yearly Railcard if you’re going to be travelling over a long period of time. These give you discounted fairs on tickets.
Etiquette: People aren’t very talkative on the train so it’s best to keep to yourself and don’t hog seats with your bags, especially if it’s busy. Make sure you’re ready to hop off at your stop since the train won’t wait for long.
The Tube is an incredible way to get around London but it’s very much it’s own beast. Like trains, the Tube is heavily used during rush-hour. If you find yourself using it during the morning or evening rush, you’ll be squeezed in like sardines. And not everyone has the same standards for personal hygiene. But it’s great for people-watching!
Tips: First-timers seem to like standing while travelling on the Tube. “I’m standing on the Tube!” This gets old quickly. If you’re lucky enough to see a seat, use it, unless there’s someone else who needs it more.
Tickets: There’s lots of ways to get tickets, either by a Oster card you can top-up, regular tickets from the station, annual passes, or even using your wireless bank card to pay-as-you-go. Make sure to always tap the barriers in and out so the system knows when to stop charging you.
Etiquette: You’ll probably need to take an escalator deep down under London to get to the Tube. Make sure to stand on the right-hand side or walk up the left. Get on and off the train quickly and for god sake, please don’t just stand in the way. It drives everyone mad.
I take the bus every day to and from work. I always drove in Canada so it took some time to get the buses right (and getting on a few wrong buses along the way). Keep in mind this is about non-London buses!
Tips: A lot of the older buses won’t announce what stop they’re approaching and there’s no signs in the bus, so you basically have to be a mind-reader if you’re not sure where you’re going. If I’m taking a new route, I try to look at Google Maps street view at the stop I need so I have an idea where to get off. Otherwise it’s a guessing game!
Tickets: You can buy tickets online (to be sent in the mail or to your mobile) or on the bus. If you’re buying them on the bus, they only take cash and make sure you have nearly the right change otherwise the driver may refuse. It’s embarrassing. If you use the bus a lot, I would suggest buying a longer ticket. I pay £70 for a monthly ticket that I can use on any route within my area. The bus charges you for how far you need to go so sometimes it ends up being cheaper to just get a £6 adult daily ticket.
Etiquette: Like all the others, be as quick on and off as you can. You need to wave the bus down so it knows to pick you up. Don’t just stand at the stop assuming they’ll get you, otherwise you’ll watch your bus go by without you (like I have).
Wherever you’re going, there’s many different options of how to get there!