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Travel / Transport / London / Guide
Guide to using public transport in London
  Planning your journey
  Transport problems
  Buying an Oyster card
  Student Oyster photocards
  Lost property
  Access for disabled


Transport services within London include:
- London Underground (the Tube) and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and London Overground. See: Travel/Transport/London/Underground.
- Buses and trams. See: Travel/Transport/London/Buses
- Boat services on the River Thames. See:
- Train services into London. See: Travel/Transport/Train.

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If you have a question about how to travel within Greater London, your options are:
- see Transport for London's Journey Planner:
- telephone London Travel Information on 0843 222 1234 (24 hours).
- ask at a Travel Information Centre:

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Transport problems are common in London. Some of the possible causes of delays or disruption include:
- roadworks or engineering works (a lot of the railway track is old and needs to be improved; this work is usually done at weekends or on public holidays)
- the weather (wet leaves cause problems for trains in the autumn, and snow in winter affects the lines which are above ground)
- systems or equipment failures (broken trains, failures of the points or signals, electrical problems, broken lifts or escalators)
- staff problems (strikes, staff shortages due to sickness)
- security or safety alerts (unattended bags, track fires, stations closed due to overcrowding)
- passenger action (passenger taken ill, person walking near the tracks, suicide)

It is a good idea to check if there is any disruption to transport before you travel, especially when it is important that you arrive on time, during bad weather or at weekends.
Check the "live travel news" section of the website: for information (this contains both real-time information and details about planned engineering works and long-term problems)
It is also possible to request travel alerts by e-mail or on your mobile phone.

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The cheapest and most convenient way to travel on public transport (buses, Tubes, DLR or trams) in London is with an electronic card called an Oyster card. Cash fares are much higher: even if you are a short-term visitor to London (for example a tourist on holiday) you are likely to save both time and money by getting an Oyster card.

To get your Oyster card, ask at any underground station in London. You will need to pay a deposit (in 2011: £5) plus some money to add to your card's credit (you can choose the amount, for example: £5). You can add extra credit to your card at any time either at a ticket office or by using one of the ticket machines which has an Oyster card reader. You can also use these to check your balance (this is also displayed at many ticket gates and when you use your card on a bus): if your balance is too low to make a journey your card will be refused at the entrance and you will need to add more credit. If you are leaving the UK and don't want to keep your Oyster card, you can return it to a ticket office at an underground station and you will get back your deposit and any credit which remains on your card (this can only be paid to you by cash if you used cash to buy the card).

Visitors to the UK from some countries can buy an Oyster card before coming to the UK:

Oyster card

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If you have a Student Oyster Photocard you can buy a discount travelcard period ticket (for 1 week or more) or a discount bus pass period ticket (for 1 week or more) from a ticket office. These cards are about 30% cheaper than the normal travel passes, and are put electronically onto your Oyster card. The discount travelcard allows you to travel on the Tube, bus, DLR or railway services within Greater London (excluding the Heathrow Express service from Paddington to Heathrow Airport). The discount bus pass allows you to travel on most bus services. Note that you cannot obtain a discount on 1-day travelcards or pay-as-you-go.

You should buy a Student Photocard if:
- You are going to a school or university in London which deals with Student Photocards (or if you are studying at a university outside of London on a course which includes a work placement within London)
- You are aged 18 or over
- You have enrolled on a course for at least 14 weeks
- You attend lessons for 15 hours or more each week (ie you are a full-time student).
- You regularly travel in London by bus, Tube, tram or DLR

The Photocard always expires at the end of September (it may be an earlier date if your course at the school ends before this). University/college students who are taking a standard academic year course (starting in September) can obtain a card which can be used between 1st September of the year in which the course starts and 30th September of the following year. You can buy the card at any time of the year, but the cost of the card is always the same.

If possible you should apply online for your Student Oyster photocard, using the website You can only do this if your university/college is listed in the drop-down box on the website. You will need a digital passport-style photo, your student number, and a debit card or credit card to pay the fee (£10 in 2011). Make sure that you use the same name as the one with which you registered at your university/college.

Alternatively you can obtain a card by completing an application form obtained from your school's administration (note that you can only get the forms from schools which are part of this scheme). You will need to attach a passport-sized photo with your name written on the back. The school's administration will need to put an official school stamp and signature on the form. You send the form and photo in the envelope which is provided, together with payment. You can pay using a credit card, cheque (if you have a UK bank account and chequebook) or postal order (you can get a postal order from most post offices). It may be about 3 weeks before your Student Photocard is sent back to you (you may want to ask your school if they can send you the forms before you arrive, so you do not need to pay higher travel costs during the first few weeks). Your card will be sent to you by post to the address you give on the form (make sure that this is your UK address).

Note that you must never allow someone else to use your Student Oyster Card - the photo and details on the card must match the person who uses it.

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If you have just left something on a bus, you can try going to the "operating garage" for the route - check the website of the bus company for details. If you have just left something on an underground train or the DLR, you can check to see if it has been handed in by the driver at your train's destination station.

Lost Property Office, Baker Street

After a couple of days of more (not including Sunday), lost property on the underground, London buses, Docklands Light Railway or in a taxi is usually sent to the Lost Property Office at 200 Baker Street (just outside Baker Street underground station). Check the opening hours before you go here (in 2003, it was open only between 9:30am and 2:00pm on Monday-Friday). There is a small administrative charge for reclaiming the lost property.

If you lose your Oyster card, telephone 0845 330 9876 (between 8am and 8pm). Details are on the website: Keep any tickets which you buy before you receive your replacement card, as you can claim a refund for these.

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See: Travel/Transport/London/Buses

See: Travel/Transport/London/Underground

London's black cabs should be accessible for people in a wheelchair. This is probably the most convenient way for a person in a wheelchair to travel around London, but fares can be expensive (especially when the roads are crowded).
See: Travel/Transport/Taxi

General information
Further information is available from the Accessibility section of the Transport for London website:
For the diary of the adventures of Akemi (a Japanese disabled lady travelling around London as a tourist), see: Ideas/Diary/Akemi.

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For more information about public transport in London, see the Transport for London website:

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London buses and trams: Travel/Transport/London/Buses
London underground and DLR: Travel/Transport/London/Underground

Air travel and airports: Travel/Transport/Air
Driving a car: Travel/Transport/Car.htm.
Taxis: Travel/Transport/Taxi
Railways: Travel/Transport/Train

Home page: Home

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