How to use the London Underground

Photo Credit: Giphy

Being charged three times the standard fare or coming out at the wrong station, with great loss of time to find out the right route, is quite normal when travelling by the London Underground.
The locals are absolutely got used to the rush hour, the overcrowded Central Line, and the newspapers stuck in the seats.

Nonetheless, these mistakes easily make a tourist rethink about another pricy holiday in the British capital city.  A foreign student may well have an everyday topic to complain about with his friends, lecturers, and parents – to tell the truth, this could well be a good excuse to ask mum a top up on the credit card.

Here there is some advice to read BEFORE leaving your room and not get puzzled by the London maze

Everyone, indeed, can tell his personal misadventure in the underground jungle.

I was once on the train with a friend and we were chatting about nearly-forgotten events of our childhood. All of a sudden, both of us understood there had been no stop for more than 10 minutes. What should have been only a two-stations-away journey turned into getting-off one train, getting-on another, and moving along the platforms in search of the right direction.
And that was all because we got on the fast track instead of the all station train – where is the difference? Shouldn’t be every train FAST?

Do not let the means of transport spoil your journey. Read and enjoy the city!

Step by step - or only one step

All Photo Credit: Cristiana Ferrauti
1 - Research, research, research...always first: research!
We spend so much time in front of the screen, so why not save 5 minutes before going out to check the best route on Google maps or on Transport of London website?
Moreover, the research is useful also - and most important - to make sure there aren't work in progress or severe delays on your line. It is better to stay a bit more on TFL webpage instead of standing on the platform twenty minutes more than expected - especially during winter time.

2-  Rely on technology, but have a look also at the more traditional, old fashion posters at the entrance. Small paper Tube maps are available in every station.
You will have an overall view over the multiple lines, with the help of lively colours - like a child's play.

3 - If you didn't check on the website, do not forget to look before going on. Search for the "Good Service" line related to your route.
Due to maintenance works, some parts of the chosen line or, worse the entire line may be closed. Your Oyster should be used carefully, like a credit card: never touch it if not sure to use that service.

4- For what regards the Oyster, I now get used to the bright yellow circle that waits for my card, even if it means to top up again and again...
Never forget to touch in and out the card reader whenever you enter or go out the turnstile. Do not be misled by the already-opened doors: you will encounter bad surprises - like a triple charge for a cheap and quick journey - in case you forget (or try to save money and be cunning) to touch.
You may also buy a paper ticket, but even only-a-weekend tourists will benefit from a Visitor Oyster card. And that is in terms of capping, avoiding queues at the ticket office, and liberty of movement among the zones.
Another important warning: never bring it with other contactless card, it may clash!

5 - Baker Street is one of those tricky stations that could drive you crazy.
There are at least three levels for all the tunnels that cross each other in this point. More trains for the same line may also be waiting there.
There is only one safe method in order to not lose time sitting for more than 11 minutes without moving: check the screens (they are everywhere) with time, destinations, and platforms before getting on a train.

6 - iPhoneaholics will never move around the city without a quick look at their smart screens. Nevertheless, it is a good idea also for all the normal and less phone-dependent people to download useful apps like GoogleMaps, Bus countdownor other tools to trace your route and point the nearest station.
However, do it before or just after your commute: no network available on the Tube. Here we are: the rushing and hyper technological London doesn't provide wi-fi or mobile access underground. So sorry, but it is worth bearing in mind that no one is perfect...

7- Last but not the least: team up!
Ask to another commuter, to a passer-by, or just to a friend.
This is a lively city, with many activities, events to attend, and places to eat. Nevertheless, if you are not alone, everything becomes even more enjoyable. And also a terrible maze like the complex junctions of the Underground will be fun!