Navigating London with Public Transportation

One big difference between Syracuse London and the main campus at Syracuse University is that I need to use public transportation to get to class every day. London is a major metropolis, and it is a lot more complex than the South Campus trolley! As an overview, in London, there are buses, the London Underground (also known as the tube) and the London Overground. I take the tube every day. Syracuse London gives each student an “Oyster card” which is preloaded with unlimited travel in Zones 1 and 2 of London and a set amount for travel outside those zones. You “tap” your Oyster card when going in and out of tube stations and when getting on a bus.

Before I came to London, I remembered the maze-like maps and muffled announcements from conductors on the New York City subway and imagined that announcements on the tube would be quite similar. The announcements are quite clear, and I always know what station I am at and what trains are available from that station, along with a variety of other important information. You can also read this information on screens inside the cars. The maps are also so easy to read; they are straight-line maps that show each stop and the other tube lines that can be reached at each station! Because of this, I know I will always be able to find my way home even if my phone dies.

While on the topic of getting around, Citymapper is my favorite navigation app for London and each city I have visited so far. Citymapper tells you how to get to the nearest station, what train to get on and how many stops until your transfer or final stop. There are so many signs in the tube that it is always easy to find your stop. If for some reason you can’t find your platform or you don’t know what train to take, TFL (travel for London) staff are always easy to find and happy to help! Luckily, I have never gotten lost on the tube, and I always know where I’m going.

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